Haaretz (Editorial)
November 6, 2007 - 1:01pm

It is no coincidence that the Yitzhak Rabin Center for Israel Studies stands deserted, while on the soccer fields, the murderer is cheered and the victim is booed.

The real Rabin legacy should be sought on the soccer fields, in the classrooms, the outposts, the yeshivas, among the secular, the religious and the traditional; in fact, everywhere in the country where - according to surveys - 38 percent of the religious public view Yigal Amir as a hero. The Rabin legacy is in fact the anti-Rabin legacy. At the present time, ahead of talks with the Palestinians, the legacy will be updated to become an anti-Olmert legacy.

The rally in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square was a protest against Amir and his growing status. The preoccupation with the circumcision of his son has resulted in an unfortunate deviation from the main issue, because the problem is not Amir's biological son, but rather his spiritual sons, who walk among us by the thousands.

Some of their voices are heard, and will be heard even louder the closer we get to the Annapolis conference. Most will make do with prayers hoping the talks fail; a minority might resort to violence, bolstered by Amir's success. The preoccupation of the media with the assassin and not the assassin's legacy blinds the public to the real danger.

You cannot preach democracy to those who scorn it, and who consider the land of Israel more important. That is not to say that there is no point to debates between right and left; wisdom certainly does not reside with one side or the other. We should and must debate Annapolis like Oslo, Taba and Camp David, as long as common ground exists between those involved in the debate, including a desire to reach an end to the conflict with our neighbors.

The concern is that the religious right takes no interest in explanations by this side or that, and views eternal war with the Palestinians as better than giving up parts of the homeland. That is the source of the belief that no leader has the right to give in during negotiations, no matter how large of a majority supports him in the Knesset; and anyone who does give in is a traitor.

If the Annapolis talks evolve into an agreement, Ehud Olmert will need strong public backing to stand in the breach. It is a pity, therefore, to waste time on Amir's marital relations, and unnecessary to wallow in vengeance against the man and his family.

The mourning public should conduct a political struggle over Amir's path rather than singing dirges. From this perspective, the rally was an encouraging sign that cannot be considered a-political, after signs and speakers mentioned the Annapolis conference and the need to reach an agreement.

We can hope that those who believe the country should be divided between two peoples will not express themselves only on November 4. In the face of the weeping and wailing already heard from the rabbis, in the face of the prayers for the land to remain whole, the other camp must prove it is alive and kicking.

Rabin's assassination proved that with demagoguery and violence it is easy to undermine the elected government, even if its decisions are backed by a majority in the Knesset. The cries of the Beitar fans on the soccer field are the first warning signs of the horror that awaits. Benjamin Netanyahu, Reuven Rivlin, Dan Meridor, Roni Bar-On, Benyamin Begin, Uzi Landau - the erstwhile Beitarists cannot make do with short responses to the occasional reporter.


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