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Several conferences being held throughout Israel lately are questioning the way Israeli society has been dealing with Yitzhak Rabin's murder. A question that cannot be avoided is how the religious community has been dealing with the assassination.
It has become apparent that many members of the community simply chose the path of denial. Naturally, the facts can't be ignored, but they can be debated.
An example of this occurred at a conference held at Bar Ilan University, in which I partook. Several lecturers, who also attended the conference, honestly and painfully probed the questions involved in the murder.
One of the participants, an affable person wearing a black skullcap and an editor at the First Source (Makor Rishon) newspaper, expressed a stance I found rather shocking, to say the least.
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Firstly, he claimed it was not a murder: It was an assassination. Obviously: the word "murder" is loaded, whereas "assassination" (which in the Hebrew sounds like collision) is a less severe term. If a person is murdered, he is obviously killed; if he is "assassinated" perhaps he survived, perhaps not, perhaps he was just scraped.
Either way, a murderer breaks one of the Ten Commandments – however, the commandment doesn't say "do not assassinate." Therefore, one shouldn't say "Rabin's murder" but rather "Rabin's assassination."
Secondly, the act of ("assassination" not, heaven forbid "murder") is purely a political act: It entails no religious aspects whatsoever. "There is no connection," argued the speaker, between the perpetrated act and religious matters: It is a de facto political issue.
Apparently, Din Rodef (the halachic ruling justifying preemptive murder to prevent a Jew from killing another Jew), as well as other religious sayings and stances, was not a factor. This stance is very convenient for those who are unable to deal with the moral aspects of the murder.
Finally, because this is the case, the act clearly had no meaning for the religious community. If "there is no connection" between the murderer (sorry, "assassin") and his religious stances, then clearly there is no need for the religious community to relate to the matter. The religious community, as per the speaker, has even partially forgotten the matter.
The mainstream of the religious community in Israel was shocked by the murder, and many of its members realized that introspection was in order. Naturally, the blame is on the murderer alone, yet many understood that they cannot detach the act of murder from the statements made on behalf of religion (the controversy following the Oslo Accords, for example.) These people should be commended for their honesty, courage and their moral accountability.
One can only tremble at the words spoken by the "Makor Rishon" speaker and hope that his readers are honest enough not to be dragged into such deception. The heritage and ethics of Jewish law are at stake.