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November Today in Terrorism

November 4, 1995: Assassination of Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin

The November 1995 assassination of Israeli PM Rabin by a Jewish extremist is a good reminder that terrorism knows no religious bounds.

The November 1995 assassination of Israeli PM Rabin by a Jewish extremist is a good reminder that terrorism knows no religious bounds.

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL – Is it any surprise that when senior religious authorities call someone a traitor that some will act on those words violently?

The beauty of living in a society that is, at least in principle, democratic is that we are allowed to agree to disagree. We seldom all have the same opinion on any one thing and hence we have debates, arguments and differences. We all accept that everyone has an opinion and has the right to express that opinion.

After all, didn’t someone say “I may disagree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it”? There may be disagreement about who actually first said this but it is a very powerful belief. In other words, no one has the right to kill someone else over a difference of opinion.

Tell that to a bunch of Israeli Ultraorthodox leaders.

There is little doubt that the ‘solution’ to the neverending Israel-Palestine dispute is really, really hard. Passions on both sides have their entrenched positions and acts of violence have been committed on all fronts.

We may be used to hearing about Palestinian violence/terrorism and that should surprise nobody. There have been a lot of attacks and they do garner a lot of attention. The Palestinians are not the only actors in this regard however.

Jewish extremists exist as well and there is a whole subculture of Jewish extremism, as I demonstrated in my most recent book When Religion Kills.

Today’s featured attack is a very good example of this form of terrorism.

On November 4, 1995 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a Jewish extremist. The PM was killed at a peace rally, ironically. Except that this was no ‘lone terrorist’ random killing. The perpetrator had plenty of help.

Many Ultra Orthodox leaders fumed at any attempts to talk peace with the Palestinians: Rabin had been one signatory of the 1994 Oslo Accords. At seething right-wing demonstrations, Rabin had been denounced as a traitor and a murderer, and likened to Adolf Hitler. As I wrote in When Religion Kills:

Within Jewish law is a concept known as din rodef that gives a Jew religious license to kill another Jew who poses a threat to Judaism and/or Israel. In 2004 a prominent rabbi claimed that anyone prepared to give away any part of Israel was subject to din rodef.

Phil Gurski, When Religion Kills

For some, opposition to a peace deal was not enough: they had to kill those with whom they differed in opinion. How is that acceptable in a Western democracy, or anywhere else for that matter?

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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