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Sat Oct 31, 2015, 12:23 PM

Shot in the Heart When Yitzhak Rabin was killed, did the prospects for peace perish, too?


"Aassination is an unpredictable act. Historically speaking, high-profile political killings have been as likely to produce backlashes and unintended consequences as they have been to achieve the assassinís goal, if he had one. When Lee Harvey Oswald killed President Kennedy, the result was an outpouring of national soul-searching, which Lyndon Johnson took advantage of to push civil-rights and Great Society legislation through Congress. When Syrians conspired to murder Rafik Hariri, the former Lebanese President, in 2005, the result was not continued Syrian domination of Lebanon but a national uprising followed by a humiliating evacuation of Assadís forces.

Yet the killing of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Prime Minister, in 1995, by Yigal Amir, an Israeli extremist, bids to be one of historyís most effective political murders. Two years earlier, Rabin, setting aside a lifetime of enmity, appeared on the White House lawn with Yasir Arafat, the leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization and a former terrorist, to agree to a framework for limited Palestinian self-rule in the occupied territories; the next year, somewhat less painfully, he returned to the White House, with Jordanís King Hussein, to officially end a forty-six-year state of war. Within months of Rabinís death, Benjamin Netanyahu was the new Prime Minister and the prospects for a wider-ranging peace in the Middle East, which had seemed in Rabinís grasp, were dead, too. Twenty years later, Netanyahu is into his fourth term, and the kind of peace that Rabin envisaged seems more distant than ever.

The story of Rabinís assassination, told in ďKilling a KingĒ (Norton), by the journalist Dan Ephron, inevitably raises the question of what might have been. At the time of his death, Rabin showed every intention of trying to forge a broader peace that would have included ceding most of the occupied territories to the Palestinians, and probably would have resulted in the establishment of an independent state.


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