Nov 3, 2009 10:49 am


After ignoring the Israeli public for a year, Barack Hussein Obama chose to address it on the 14th anniversary of his assassination. Why? Because it serves the administration's goals both domestically and abroad.

At home his supporters have been issuing periodic warning of his own imminent assassination since before his election. It is their true and tried method to deal with mounting opposition to their man. Opposing Obama, unlike opposing Bush, is bound to give permission to would be assassins to execute the heinous deed. What lower risk way to make the point but to focus attention on the assassination of another democratically elected leader?

After all, the Rabin assassination came in the midst of a major elite public rift in Israel of the kind we currently see in the US. The"peace" rally which preceded the Rabin's assassination was held by the leftist elite which sought to dismiss the real concerns Israelis had about an agreement he signed without consulting them and the wisdom of which they began to doubt. For the famous Rabin Arafat handshake was followed by explosions of Israeli passenger buses in Tel Aviv.

The elite Obama administration may not be asking the American people to risk their lives in that direct a manner, but it is certainly asking it to risk their economic well being in the midst of a recession. Indeed, while the American public is concerned about high unemployment and worried about the declining value of their dollar denominated savings, the American elite is busy redesigning the health care system and cooling an already cooling climate. Yes, it is dangerous to give a democratic citizens a feeling they are ignored. Focusing on Rabin may convince leaders seeking to galvanize the angry populace that they will be held responsible for the consequences.

Abroad, Obama needs a foreign policy success and he promised to put Israeli/Palestinians peace on top of his agenda. As always that meant pressuring Israel to make risky concessions. But Israelis are willing to do so only when they believe they trust the American president to be there when their blood starts to flow and only 6% of them trust Obama the man who equated Palestinian refugees with Jews placed in ovens. With so little trust in him, Obama is unable to bend Netanyahu to his will. The Opposite is true. At the very least, Obama must convince the Israeli left to trust him and he is trying to do so by taking their side in the internal Israeli argument the Rabin assassination.

Why? Because five minutes after that assassination, the left chose to use it as a club against the right. The culprit, it insisted was not a fanatical 25 year old but all those who doubted the wisdom of the Oslo agreement when passenger buses began to explode in Tel Aviv. Rabin has argued that to curtail the Oslo process means empowering the Palestinian rejectionists even as his"peace partner" Arafat continued to assert his commitment to anti-Israeli Jihad.

The right bemoans the assassination but refuses to accept the collective guilt as the left insists it should. So, it opts out of the week long memorials choosing instead to commemorate the death of Rachel, the beloved wife of Jacob. It was a little known day before there was a need to resurrect it in competition to the Rabin commemorations.

Consequently, when Obama chooses to speak to Israelis about the Rabin assassination, his design is to increase the internal Israeli split in hope of increasing his popularity with the Israeli left by taking their side in this debate. If he succeeds, his popularity will enjoys a significant rise. Personally, I doubt it. My feeling is that the commemoration is an Israeli elite preoccupation and the vast majority in Israel is rather fed up with it but we shall see. Either way, no Israeli will ever forget where they were on the day Rabin was assassinated just as no American forgets where they were the day Kennedy was. May we never live through another such day. It is far too painful. Certainly, it is not one a real friend of Israel would should to exploit.

Update, see on the same subject, Marty Peretz Dear Rahm: Barack Obama and Yitzhak Rabin, The Link That Will Not Help

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