The two bullets from an assassin's pistol that killed Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Saturday night, November 4, 1995, shattered not only the festive post-Sabbath air of a Tel Aviv political rally, but also a cherished taboo of Israel itself - that the democratically elected leader of the modern Jewish State would never be harmed by a fellow Jew. The shocking murder horrified Israelis and millions of others, Jew and non-Jew, around the world. But it also focused a glaring spotlight on a festering problem too long left unaddressed or avoided, perhaps because of its discomfiting repulsiveness and intractability: violent Jewish extremism. In the wake of the assassination, there has emerged a growing recognition of the need to expose and counter this pernicious phenomenon, both in Israel and in the United States. Activists and supporters of such radical Jewish groups as Kahane Chai and the Kach movement have engaged in disruptive or violent behavior and abusive and threatening rhetoric over the past ten years - as did the JDL before them. Rabin's confessed assassin, Yigal Amir, was a member of a highly secretive violence-prone group called Eyal (a Hebrew acronym which translates as "Jewish Fighting Organization"); the group's leader, Avishai Raviv, has also been charged with involvement in the assassination. The problem posed by such violent Jewish radicalism has been exacerbated by controversial, provocative statements and religious rulings made by several Orthodox rabbis, both in Israel and the U.S. Examples include that of Rabbi Abraham Hecht of Brooklyn, who stated in June 1995 that it was permissible according to halakha (Jewish religious law) to kill Prime Minister Rabin because of the alleged danger to other Jews caused by his government's peace policies. Many observers, including some within the Orthodox community, have condemned such statements as incitements to, or approval of, violence, and even murder. Extreme elements (both religious and nationalist) among the West Bank settler movement have echoed such sentiments or issued threats against Rabin's life. It was amid the explosively heated atmosphere in Israeli society that was building since the 1993 Israel-PLO accord and fed by hateful, inflammatory accusations, recrimination and invective, that Yigal Amir committed his horrendous, fanatical act.
1995, © Anti-Defamation League. The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.