It will only be fair to confess, as we mark 20 years since Yitzhak Rabin's murder, our own guilt in the circumstances which made it easy for the despicable murderer to assassinate a prime minister in Israel.
As attenuating circumstances in the heavenly court, I will present to the honorable judges the unfortunate fact that we had someone to learn from - Yitzhak Rabin himself. He disregarded the threats on his life, and we - his bureau employees - followed this disregard, which eventually claimed his life.
It’s important to know that the prime minister's bureau in Jerusalem, perhaps not today but definitely during the days of Rabin, was a pretty quiet island in a stormy sea. The voices from the outside were blocked by sealed windows, and the protests seemed like "nothing" from behind the windows of the armored car. Ten seconds, maybe one second more, and the car would pass by the protestors.
The bigger echo arrived in the mail, and in this case through shoe boxes with dead cats, letters smeared in feces, Nazi symbols. In most cases, they were not seen by the prime minister. At most, he was told about them.
As the person who was informally in charge of Rabin's image, I tried during the stormy days of the Oslo Agreement not to separate him from the the people and to demonstrate what he had always wanted to prove to his opponents: That he is not afraid of them.
There was one time, for example, when the security guards wanted to get him out of the Hilton (today the Crowne Plaza Hotel) through the kitchen. When he found out about the plan, he insisted on leaving through the front door, facing protestors who were burning with anger. He even lingered before entering the car, in order to "show them." He may have even smiled scornfully.
In a different incident, during a Mimouna celebration in Ashkelon, we asked to get rid of the group of police officers escorting him. And so on and so forth. That's how the man wanted to be and live, and that's the way it was. We properly internalized the "commander's spirit."
We couldn't imagine, we didn’t know, we didn’t internalize the extent of hatred towards him among a certain part of the population. It was our fault. The bureau, as I mentioned, is a sealed fortress. People working around the clock, hardly reading newspapers, with definitely no time for radio. Television? What's that? And when they hit the sack at midnight, they have no time or energy to hear or read what happened. The phone rings almost every hour anyway.
And so the employees in Rabin's bureau were unaware of the success of a false PR campaign, which firmly fixed distorted facts in people's minds which are stuck in their heads like headless nails to this very day.
Here are just a few examples: For instance, that the Oslo Agreement divided the land (wrong, definitely not in a timeframe of years. The agreement fails to mention the two words which have already become a common phrase - Palestinian state); for instance, that the Oslo Agreement was bought through a majority of only two Knesset members at the price of a Mitsubishi (wrong. The agreement was approved with a majority of 11 MKs, not including three Likud MKs who abstained. The Oslo-B Agreement was indeed approved with a majority of two votes after two MKs decided to quit the Labor faction before the vote. What people don’t know is that one of these two MKs reneged on his decision five minutes before the Knesset session opened, and it was only a vile leak of his intention which eventually left him among the opponents); for instance, that the Israeli government gave the Palestinians rifles (wrong. As far as I know, Israel demanded - and received -a registration of the numbers of rifles which had all reached the Palestinian Authority not through the government).
And there were more and more lies which found their way into the hearts of a large public, which still believes in those false statements and slogans, and that may have been the main reason for what happened 20 years ago and is going on to this very day. That's the little I have to say right now. To be continued, when the time is right.
Eitan Haber served as slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's bureau chief.