Eight years ago this week, the fate of Israel was sealed. On Nov. 4, 1995, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir. The murder was tragic, not just because Rabin suffered an untimely death but because Rabin became sacrosanct. The illusory image of Rabin as the tough sabra willing to negotiate with the Arabs, as the invincible general turned peacemaker, as the tolerant, wise leader of the Jewish state, was forever enshrined in the public consciousness. Rabin's political inheritance, the Oslo Accords, became unassailable.
On the anniversary of his death, it is now more necessary than ever to explode the myth of Yitzhak Rabin. As long as Rabin's myth exists, it will be impossible to move beyond his failed policies: negotiation with terror, persecution of the Israeli right wing, apologies for Jewish existence.
Rabin was no "great general." As Uri Milstein's "The Rabin File" explains, Yitzhak Rabin bears responsibility for many of the most fouled-up military operations in Israeli history. On Dec. 9, 1947, during the War of Independence, Rabin took charge of the Jerusalem sector of the Palmach (the elite striking force of the Haganah, precursor to the Israeli Defense Force). Rabin's task was to secure Jerusalem and access to the city. Under his watch, Israeli forces met with disaster after disaster. The substantial losses incurred by Rabin's soldiers led the United States to withdraw support for the establishment of the Jewish state on March 19.
Rabin's military record extends beyond incompetence. The celebrated soldier actually fled the field of battle in 1948. On April 20, a food and supply convoy set out for Jerusalem. The area fell under Rabin's jurisdiction. His forces failed to secure the road, and the convoy was ambushed. When the ambush occurred, several officers attempted to lead counterattacks; Rabin did not. Instead, he personally drove away for reinforcements. After requesting reinforcements, Rabin did not return to fight with his men -- he went to sleep.
One of Rabin's proudest military moments came on June 22, 1948. Menachem Begin's Irgun, another Israeli military group, was in the midst of negotiating a pact with David Ben-Gurion under which Irgun would join the new Israeli Defense Force. Meanwhile, the Irgun had loaded a ship, the Altalena, with weapons and Jewish fighters (many of them Holocaust survivors) to join the IDF. Ben-Gurion ordered that the Altalena be fired upon. Rabin carried out his orders to the letter. Later, Rabin bragged how he had "bumped them off on the deck of the burning ship and while they were trying to swim to safety." Sixteen Jews were killed, many shot while swimming to shore.
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