The Violent Bear It Away
Don't take no tidal wave, don't take no mass grave
Don't take no smokin' gun to show how the west was won - Neil Young
These are strange days, even for those who have anticipated them. It's not so much that things are going to Hell, it's just that things seem to be getting there so much sooner than expected. Only two more years of drought and the Amazon rain forest may burn and become a desert, a process "that might end in the world becoming uninhabitable." The oceans are devolving into an acidic, primeval goo. Complex life is dying by our hands while we extinguishing ourselves, creating conditions unknown for hundreds of millions of years, in which the very bottom of the food chain, the slimes and invertebrates, reinherit the Earth.
And even for the Middle East, which has seen so many wars, this war is an odd one. Israel's actions appear counter-intuitive, even by its hard-right's own measure of "national security." Its self-immolation of any credible claim to a just cause virtually assures tragedy for itself and its people. Its goading Syria and Iran into a general war by turning Lebanon into a slaughterhouse means the Israeli state has become, itself, a suicide bomber; an engine of apocalypse. But for whom, and for what?
"[Israeli] Defense officials told the [Jerusalem] Post last week that they were receiving indications from the US that America would be interested in seeing Israel attack Syria." And Haaretz quotes Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah as saying on Saturday that the "Israelis are ready to halt the aggression because they are afraid of the unknown. The one pushing for the continuation of the aggression is the US administration." And then there are a pair of Mephistopholean characters named Cheney and Netanyahu.
It's often presumed that Israel leads American policy in the Middle East, and that's frequently been true, which is why this war is strikingly and disturbingly different. The United States is actually egging on Israel to press the attack regardless of the cost Israelis may be expected to bear for the fresh blood its armed forces shed. George Bush spoke arguably his most frightening and truthful words last Friday, when he admitted that it's not the White House intention to create "a sense of stability." It's by instability - by creating "failed states" in the Balkans, Central Asia, the Middle East and elsewhere - that End-Time criminals stand to gain the most. That may be little surprise to those of us who know the playbook, but our humanity still can't help but be shocked by their unbridled delight in the "opportunities" now presented by the "new Middle East."
In the mid-90s, there was talk of a different, new Middle East.
On the evening of November 4, 1995, in Tel Aviv's Kings of Israel Square, Yitzhak Rabin spoke these words:
There are enemies of peace who are trying to hurt us, in order to torpedo the peace process. I want to say bluntly, that we have found a partner for peace among the Palestinians as well: the PLO, which was an enemy, and has ceased to engage in terrorism. Without partners for peace, there can be no peace. We will demand that they do their part for peace, just as we will do our part for peace, in order to solve the most complicated, prolonged, and emotionally charged aspect of the Israeli-Arab conflict: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
This is a course which is fraught with difficulties and pain. For Israel, there is no path that is without pain. But the path of peace is preferable to the path of war. I say this to you as one who was a military man, someone who is today Minister of Defense and sees the pain of the families of the IDF soldiers. For them, for our children, in my case for our grandchildren, I want this Government to exhaust every opening, every possibility, to promote and achieve a comprehensive peace. Even with Syria, it will be possible to make peace.
This rally must send a message to the Israeli people, to the Jewish people around the world, to the many people in the Arab world, and indeed to the entire world, that the Israeli people want peace, support peace. For this, I thank you.
And then he was shot.
There's a reflex among some on the left to embrace the lone gunman hypothesis, because they regard the alternative as an embrace of a hollow liberal myth. Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn regard John F Kennedy as nothing but a patrician cold warrior who would have delivered more of the same had he lived. Rabin receives the same treatment, if not more, for his harsh words and measures during the Intifada and for the flawed Oslo Accords. But their killers were not appraising them from the left. From the hard right, they were both men who had risen through the system and had become traitors to it.
Rabin's convicted lone gunman, Yigal Amir, had close ties to the extremist nationalist organization Eyal, and was groomed by its founder Avishai Raviv to kill Rabin. The Israeli paper Maariv reported November 24, 1995 that "according to Sarah Eliash, a schooteacher working at the Shomron Girls Seminary, some of her pupils heard Raviv encourage Amir to murder Rabin. Raviv told Amir, "Show us you're a man. Do it."
Uri Dan and Dennis Eisenberg elaborated on the girls testimony writing for The Jerusalem Post, which Barry Chamish quotes in his Who Murdered Yitzhak Rabin?
Sarah Eliash had already appeared voluntarily before the commission and related how her pupils had run to see her on the night of the killing. In tears they said they knew Yigal Amir. They had met both Amir and Avishai Raviv.... 'We used to see Raviv and Amir on Saturdays during last summer,' they related.
These gatherings were arranged by Yigal... Raviv was real macho. He kept saying to Yigal: 'You keep talking about killing Rabin. Why don't you do it? Are you frightened? You say you want to do it. Show us that you're a man. Show us what you're made of.
Now, would it surprise you to know that Avishai Raviv, the founder of the extremist Eyal and the bug in the ear of Rabin's assassin, was also a Shabak (or "Shin Bet," Israel's covert internal security) agent, codenamed "Champagne" for, writes Chamish, "the bubbles of incitement he raised"?
Amnon Abramovitch dropped a bombshell last night, announcing that Avishai Raviv was a Shabak agent codenamed "Champagne." Now we ask the question, why didn't he report Yigal Amir's plan to murder Rabin to his superiors? In conversations with security officials, the following picture emerged. Eyal was under close supervision of the Shabak. They supported it monetarily for the past two years. The Shabak knew the names of all Eyal members, including Yigal Amir.
Just as 9/11 was wargamed, so too was Rabin's murder. Shabak explained its failure to protect the Prime Minister at Kings of Israel Square with the excuse that it had "no contingency plan" to stop a lone gunman. A year and a half after the assassination, that blew up in the agency's face with Anashim's interview of two former members of Shabak's personal security unit, Tuvia Livneh and Yisrael Shai. "When Yisrael and I heard the news of the murder we became infuriated at the fact that there was a contingency plan for just such an attempt, which we practiced endless times."
This is not a case of wisdom after the fact, but scandalous wisdom well before the event, which is being published for the first time: when the two commanded the unit at the beginning of the 1990s, they prepared a detailed contingency plan for a political assassination at Kings of Israel Square, including the possibility that the assassin would act from the exit stairs behind the stage, precisely where Yigal Amir waited for Yitzhak Rabin. The plan was transferred to field command where it was practiced in dry runs.
So, a suggestible gunman was befriended and goaded into action by an undercover Shabak agent, and the assassination followed the script written and performed in dress rehearsal by the same agency. These are just two of the arguments for conspiracy in Rabin's death. Chamish, following his own political lights, believes the guilt lay with leftist elements seeking to discredit the right, but he reaches that conclusion by far overreaching the disturbing facts of the case with partisan speculation. Besides, if it had been an attack from the left, it failed miserably. In the ten years since the murder Israeli society, despairing of peace, has undergone a rightward radicalization. Last November, the Dahaf Polling Institute found that "20 percent of respondents said Amir should be pardoned, and 45 percent said he should be allowed to have conjugal visits in prison." ("The measure of public sympathy toward Amir worries Rabin's surviving family members.") The poll also found that a quarter of respondents "believed in a conspiracy theory perpetrated by the Shin Bet."
Chamish spoke by telephone to one of the young women who had heard Raviv encourage Amir to murder Rabin. Soon after, her father took hold of the receiver, and told him to "Find someone else if you can. You have to understand that, don't you? You don't know what's going on.... This is no democracy. You don't know what it is.... I can't tell you what they said they'd do to her if she talked anymore."
The Age of Nations is over, and many of the most powerful are no longer ruled by forces which safeguard the interests of the state, let alone its citizens. We're entering an extinction boundary, between the reign of high mammals and the return of the jellyfish. What are the politics of jellyfish?