On that fateful night 5th November 1995, P.M. Yitzchak Rabin was assassinated by an extremist right-winger, Yigal Amir. This horrendous and tragic crime was carried out in the Kikar Malchei Yisrael (Kikar Rabin). I was present at that peace demonstration and just after we dispersed to return to our destinations, tragedy struck. In about two weeks, Israel will be commemorating the 11th Anniversary of Rabin’s assassination. By a cruel coincidence of fate, the assassin will be granted conjugal rights so that his wife, Larissa Trimbobler, can bear his child! All this at the time of commemorating Rabin’s murder!
It is horrifying that Israel’s penal system allows such a meeting to take place. There is no lack of admirers of Yigal Amir and it certainly raises many questions as to whether they were involved in this macabre decision. The idea of Yigal Amir receiving conjugal rights in order to bring a child into the world should raise eyebrows. Unfortunately, there was no great outcry in Israel. This outcry should have come from governmental level but the government is too busy forming coalition partners with Avigdor Lieberman’s extreme right wing Yisrael Beitenu Party to be even bothered by this horrifying decision. Even Amir Peretz, the Labour Party Leader and “National Disappointment”, has not even said a word about it. Why should he? He has been sucked into the right wing camp by Ehud Olmert and has been neutralized as Lieberman “accepts” the principles of the coalition agreement to receive the coveted prize of becoming a Minister in the Cabinet. (It is not likely that Lieberman and Company cares about coalition agreements anyway). After all, Peretz will be given all kinds of Olmert tidbits to keep him in the coalition.
Somehow the message that this conjugal rights decision conveys is that, with the passage of time, the punishment fits the crime less and less, thus eroding the effectiveness of the punishment of political murderers. This gives legitimacy to the extreme right wing of Yigal Amir`s despicable ilk to carry out another political murder which will add another nail to the faltering democracy in Israel. A question that may be asked is: Would a Hamas terrorist be granted privileges of conjugal rights as Yigal Amir after a paltry eleven years of imprisonment? This despicable human being will be celebrating his honeymoon on Rabin’s Memorial Day! His behaviour had not been exemplary by any standards. He never uttered any regret for his dastardly deed. The press, which is usually critical of the government, has been strangely silent about this. The only journalist, who criticized this decision, is Nehemia Shtrassler of Ha’aretz. The assassination of Rabin is slipping into the mists of memory. This diabolical decision of conjugal right for Rabin’s assassin is proving the point. Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin said, in response to a petition Amir filed with the Tel Aviv District Court, that the conjugal visits do not pose a security risk. He can receive conjugal privileges. The fact that he committed such a horrendous crime does not seem to be an issue anymore. The cynical use of the term “security risk” as applied to Yigal Amir is ridiculous. Yigal Amir is the perfect example of a Jewish Fundamentalism mutant an offshoot of the illegal settler movement. The conjugal rights granted to Yigal Amir could give legitimacy to this extremist, dangerous ideology. This is a “security risk” for left of centre Jewish Israelis as much as it is for Arabs in Israel. In fact, it is a danger to democracy in Israel which has taken a bash from this gross conjugal rights decision for Yigal Amir. The damage that this assassin did for Israel goes beyond a mere “security risk”.
Yigal Amir had done irreparable harm to the direction of peace in Israel. Because of the assassination he also killed the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians and gave grist to the Hamas mill. It will only be a matter of time before Yigal Amir is pardoned. He is already half way there. Who knows? Maybe if President Moshe Katzav never had his problems with his lady accusers of sexual harassment and rape, perhaps he would have pardoned Yigal Amir. Now his powers of pardoning criminals have been suspended. It is bound to happen sooner rather than later by one of the next presidents who hopefully will not be tainted by some pending lawsuit. There is no doubt that this granting of conjugal rights will somehow soften the establishment’s attitude towards granting Yigal Amir a pardon.