Born 12-E’: LeVar Burton (Star Trek TNG), Maurice Ravel, Django Reinhardt, Yitzhak Rabin (5th Israeli PM), Jeff Bridges (a.k.a. The Dude), Chaim Topol (a.k.a. Fiddler on the Roof), David Zucker, Margot Robbie
Israel’s 5th prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin was born 12-E’ according to the Mayan master Tzolkin calendar (to-day). He’s remembered by many, Israelis and others, as being the last emphatic voice for peace, speaking out in the small corner of the world I call home, that’s been a sad and tragic battleground for way too long.
His voice and way were cut short by multiple gunshots to his back on the night of November 4th, 1995 (13-Ak’abal). The fanatic right-wing zealot who shuffled old Yitzik off (t)his mortal coil was Yigal Amir (12-Kej, akin to Rabin’s 12-E’, 65 days/quarter cycle apart). Like 9/11 for Americans, you can ask any Israeli who’s old enough, and s/he’ll tell you exactly where they were, what they were doing, and the way in which they first heard about Rabin’s murder. The .38 caliber rounds reverberated through the nation’s soul, and for many – it still does.
It’s astonishing how much change can be packed into one day. Into a moment.
“Despite attempts to defend his actions on religious grounds, Amir was found guilty, and sentenced to life imprisonment plus six additional years in prison for injuring the bodyguard.”
“Upon hearing that Yitzhak Rabin was dead, Amir told the police that he was “satisfied” and was acting on the “orders of God.’ [CNN] At his trial, Amir said he did not care if the outcome was death or paralysis as long as Rabin was “out of the way”. He expressed no regret for his actions.[Ha’aretz]”
I was coming out of a mall movie theater, that late Saturday evening, when me and my girlfriend heard a radio news cast over the mall PA system. It was odd and surreal all at once, since that mall usually played the ubiquitous mall music and store adverts that play inside the heads of all earthly mall-goers. Listening intently, we realized something was very wrong.
The voice of a man, recorded outside a Tel-Aviv hospital, kept repeating “Rabin’s dead” amidst a choir of crying and wailing.
We drove back to her parents’ home listening to radio reporters trying to pin down facts and eyewitness accounts, and we hardly exchanged a word. When we went to bed we embraced and kept listening to the radio in her room, in total shock, disbelief and grief, unable to get any kind of real sleep. We hardly felt refreshed hours later, when we woke up shortly after sunrise, to the melancholy notes of a slow song on the radio we left on.
It was possibly one my first wake-up calls, if you will. The first hairline fracture of doubt to appear on my once-pristine and wholesome trust in cohesion of leadership, national solidarity, and established systems of control in general. I reckoned that, if this heinous political act, most commonly associated with 3rd world banana republics, has become reality in my own ‘developed’ country, then who knows what’s next, who’s in charge, or how to proceed?
It might not be far fetched to posit that anything we call ‘political’ is, to a degree, inherently violent and heinous.
Five years prior to that day, when I got my first ID card, all excited, and thought about voting in the next general elections, my parents told me to always vote for and support Rabin’s and Peres’s Labor party, since it was their own, personal family tradition. When I got to the ballot, though, being 16, I naturally didn’t do what they told me. Instead of voting Labor, I gave my very first vote to an obscure, alternative, niche-kind of party. You know, the kind that never makes it.
As for my parents, the legendary social welfare programs, unions, and labor conditions that were in full effect during the days they were employed were good enough reasons for them and their generation of immigrants to keep the people who founded the country, and who called themselves the people’s party, in power.
Government used to care once. I wish my generation had just one third of that generation’s compensation and insurance plans. It’s not that we don’t have it as bad.
Yitzhak Rabin, although often controversial, combative and outspoken, is still to this day celebrated by most nations as one of the greatest statesmen of the 20th century. Especially during his final months and weeks, he spoke and acted in sincere and concrete ways towards achieving peace with Israel’s Muslim neighbors. These days sealed his fate, and at the same time made his legacy legendary.
To most Israelis, when Yigal Amir took his life, it was like a distant, dear grandfather was tragically and hatefully murdered, in circumstances that could have been averted.
Rabin’s career-long colleague and rival in the Labor party Shimon Peres, who was then the acting Vice Prime Minister, assumed the deceased leader’s seat for the 6 months that followed the assassination.
When forced elections came again on May 29th, 1996 (12-Tzi) I was still a 20+ year-old Navy sailor. Like many of my compatriots and friends, I felt sure Peres would remain in office to succeed Rabin as Prime Minister elect, and lead Israel down the path of Peace outlined by himself, Rabin, and the rest of the Left.
That night, the current Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the Likud (Right-wing) party, won the 1996 election by a margin of 1%. For Israeli liberals and democrats it was just like taking a political gunshot, right to the head this time. “We went to sleep with Peres, woke up with Netanyahu”, they then said.
Looking back over the 20-odd years that went by since Rabin’s traumatic assassination, it seems that the forces behind it have gained whatever goal they were aiming for. They have won, to the detriment of all, themselves included. The right-wing monopoly, gradually gaining ground over Israeli consciousness and reality perception, has left the political stage vacant of any real opposition, resistance or checks to their power. Rather than contesting any pertinent political matter, the opposition today bickers over our diminishing social and labor guarantees, child and senior benefits, the co-opting and privatization of national resources, and our abuse of the rights of political refugees, women, and homosexuals.
What used to be called the Israeli LEFT has all but joined in the fate of the last living great white rhino. Alone, rapidly aging, and without a mate, it’s going from ‘endangered’ to ‘extinct’ very fast; a fading shadow of its former glory.
Tonight, as 12-E’ gels into 13-Aj, I know I’ve long since been disillusioned and rudely awakened from the dream of a big-daddy government, who equally looks out for me and everyone else. Today’s elected government “daddies” are mean, incompetent, bigoted, greedy, ego tripping publicity addicts.
None of them can hold a candle to Rabin.