Yitzhak Rabin assassination conspiracy theories
Found in: History of Israel
Yitzhak Rabin assassination conspiracy theories arose almost immediately following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister, on November 4, 1995. The gunman Yigal Amir, a Jewish Israeli student, was apprehended within seconds by other people in the crowd. Yitzhak Rabin died later on the operating table of Ichilov Hospital. Yigal Amir confessed to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
The matter has been reported as clear cut in the media, and the Shamgar national inquiry commission and the court all drew the same conclusion that Yigal Amir was guilty of murder. Yet, some inconsistencies in the evidence have been alleged, both in the medical records and in the inquiry testimony. These allegations and other suspicions have been included in occasional left-wing conspiracy theories and more prevalent right-wing conspiracy theories.
Right-wing conspiracy theories
Conspiracy theorists Uri Barkan, Barry Chamish, Natan Geffen, and David Morrison, wrote books alleging that Amir's action was on the surface intended to have been a staged, unsuccessful assassination bid to rekindle Rabin's flagging popularity, and was subverted by other factions who added the fatal wounds later. David Rutstein has created websites on the subject.
These theories make some or all of the following claims. Others have been strident in opposing these conclusions.
Police reports state that gunpowder was found on Rabin's body and clothing, suggesting that he had been shot at point-blank range, as gunpowder travels only a few inches before dispersing. According to the official version, Amir shot from a distance at which no powder traces could have settled on Rabin's body and clothing.
Surgery reports describing a bullet wound with the bullet entrance in the chest are inconsistent with the eyewitness reports and the Kempler video, which suggest that Rabin was shot in the back while walking away from Yigal Amir.
Rabin would have walked after Amir's shots in a manner inconsistent with gunshot, an impossibility if they shattered the vertebrae.
Each medical record describes wounds which are "completely different" in nature to those concluded by the official Shamgar Commission. Medical descriptions of Rabin's condition are described as suddenly appearing to change.
Dr Guttman, a physician, opined that "[t]he first two wounds, to the chest and abdomen occurred before Rabin's arrival. The third, frontal chest wound, had to have been inflicted after he entered the hospital," and that "it is inconceivable that Rabin had no spinal damage. The six members of the operating team were too skilled to have all been wrong about that."
Three police officers who had been present testified that "when Yitzhak Rabin was placed in the car, he showed no visible wounds." Gordon Thomas in his book "Gideon's Spies" adds: "The surgeons insisted there was no possible gunshot wound that would have allowed Rabin to leave the attack site showing no evidence of a wound and arrive at the hospital with multiple damage ... subsequently the doctors have refused to discuss the matter."
Rabin's motorcade took 22 minutes to arrive at the hospital, even though he had a highly experienced chauffeur, and the streets were cordoned-off. The distance between the crime scene and the hospital is a five minute walk.
No blood was seen coming from Rabin at the scene, despite wounds to his lung and spleen, nor was any found later at that location. By contrast witnesses describe blood "gushing" from a chest wound upon arriving at hospital.
Leah Rabin stated that a security guard told her immediately after the incident that the bullets shot at her husband were "blanks". She further stated that she was told by an Israeli security chief that she "should not worry as the whole thing had been staged."
Amir, who was employed by the Shin Bet in Latvia about two years before the murder, commented at a court hearing, "If I were to tell the whole truth, the entire system would collapse. I know enough to destroy this country."
David Rutstein, an American-Israeli Internet entrepreneur and former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) informant, gained some exposure by making the Yitzhak Rabin assassination video available through the internet. Rutstein had emigrated to Israel at age 18 but later returned to the United States where he collected information on befriended Jewish right-wing activists for the FBI. He claims, like Chamish before him, that Peres had ordered the murder. Rutstein's web sites regarding these topics score high in the Google search engine. In 2005, Rutstein submitted a slander case against Shimon Peres demanding 250,000 shekels , after Peres called him in a Labor party publication "a sick person who should be hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital." Rutstein claims that his own actions have caused now President of Israel Shimon Peres to lose a Labor Party primary to Amir Peretz in 2005.
Leftist conspiracy theory
According to a leftist conspiracy theory, extreme right-wing factors in the Shabak activated Yigal Amir and joined him in a subversive conspiracy to murder Yitzhak Rabin. This theory tries to explain how Yigal Amir easily penetrated the security perimeter around Rabin. Historian Michael Harsegor, a professor emeritus at Tel Aviv University, has supported this theory.
Criticisms of the conspiracy theories
There are three types of criticisms of the conspiracy theories. The most common type refutes and relativizes claims made in the conspiracy theories or by the conpiracy theorists and points out that the theories are detached from Israeli political culture, social relations and historic events. This criticism is not necessarily politically "colored" and may refer to both the right wing and left wing conspiracy theories. The other criticism focuses entirely on the more common, right wing theories.
A second, mostly Israeli left-wing criticism, attacks the very existence of such theories as a denial of what they consider to be right wing "responsibility" for the murder. This "responsibility" for the murder would have been by creating an extreme hostile environment to the late Prime Minister, in which Yigal Amir and his immediate accomplices Hagai Amir and Dror Adani were just a small group of the actors.
A third type of criticism, by right-wing activists, claims that the mostly Israeli right-wing conspiracy supporters embarrass the Israeli right by supporting fringe theories for which no proof exists. The conspiracy theorists, according to this criticism, move the debate away from the responsibility of what they call the "perpetrators of the Oslo crimes". These right-wing critics conclude that the right-wing conspiracy theorists serve the goals of the Israeli left.
Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
Uri Barkan - Srak, web-publication in Hebrew
Barry Chamish - "Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin?", ISBN 1-57129-081-8.
David Morrison - Lies: The Israeli Secret Service And The Rabin Assassination
Articles in press and magazines
"Israel's Plague of Conspiracism", by Professor Steven Plaut, published in the Jewish Press weekly, January 18, 2006
"A Mothers Defense", by Guela Amir, originally published in the defunct George Magazine, March 1997, p. 138
"10 years after murder, website asks who killed Yitzhak Rabin", by Natalie Prishkolnik in Ynet
Articles on alternative news sites
Top Israeli news site publishes crudely altered Rabin assassination video article on Israel Insider website
"Rabin Assassination Eye-Witness Video Emerges After 11 Years" on Arutz Sheva website
"Rabin Assassination Video Resurfaces After 10 Year Absence" on the Arutz Sheva website
"Questions Remain; 28% of Israelis Say Amir Didn't Kill Rabin" on the Arutz Sheva website
"Ten years after Rabins assassination, the case for conspiracy is reopened" on the DEBKAfile website, November 6, 2005
"Discredited Shin Bet chief's comment resurrects Rabin conspiracy questions" on the Israel Insider website
"Re-open the Rabin Murder Case" on the Israel Insider website
"Treachery at the top?" on the "Gamla Shall Not Fall Again" website
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