Monday 31 August 2009

Olmert's Indictment: Secular Justice or a Sign from God?

By Matthew Kalman / Jerusalem
Monday, Aug. 31, 2009

On the eve of the 2001 Israeli general election that would sweep Ariel Sharon to power, Ehud Olmert, then the mayor of Jerusalem and Sharon's right-hand man, explained why the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had been brought down. Olmert pointed out that, at the Camp David peace talks, Barak had offered the Palestinians almost all the West Bank and half of Jerusalem. Olmert declared, "This shows that anyone who dares to raise his hand against Jerusalem will be wiped out."

Now Olmert himself has been "wiped out." Months after offering the Palestinians a deal similar to Barak's, he was forced to resign last year as Israel's prime minister over a string of corruption allegations. On Sunday he became the only Israeli prime minister ever indicted on criminal charges, part of a scandal that will prevent him from returning to power anytime soon.

The 60-page indictment charges Olmert with multiple counts of fraud, breach of faith and deception. Prosecutors say Olmert double-billed for trips abroad on behalf of various charities and public bodies, including the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, and received tens of thousands of dollars in cash payments from Long Island financier Morris Talansky. Olmert vigorously denies the charges and says he will fight to clear his name.

Many religious Israelis believe that Olmert's woes are a divine punishment for reneging on his promise never to divide Jerusalem. According to one poll, more than a quarter of all Israelis and a majority of the religious, believe that Ariel Sharon's massive stroke in January 2006 was a punishment for ordering Israel's withdrawal from Gush Katif in Gaza in 2005 and considering a Palestinian state. "No question about it," Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe, a leader of the Chabad Hasidic movement in Israel told TIME. "He fought against the people of Israel, against the land of Israel, against the Torah of Israel, against God." Olmert, says Wolpe, "is getting his punishment."

But there may be a more earthly kind of justice at work. Olmert is the fourth senior Israeli politician to face criminal charges in the past year. Former president Moshe Katsav is on trial for rape (he has denied the charge); Olmert's former finance minister Avraham Hirschson was sentenced to five years for theft and money laundering; and former health minister Shlomo Benizri of the Shas Party is about to start a prison sentence for bribery. "It reflects the growing toughness of the enforcement agencies, their ability and their will to confront the highest ranks of politics in order to root out corrupt people," says Professor Moshe Maor of the Hebrew University.

Secular justice, nevertheless, can still have apocalyptic repercussions — in this case for Olmert's party. Kadima leaders were torn between their loyalty to Olmert, who founded the party with Sharon in 2005, and their desire not to be tainted by the criminal prosecution. "On this difficult day, we must not forget Olmert's rich contributions," said Kadima legislator Yoel Hasson. But Kadima's right wing could take advantage of the crisis to split the party and cross over to the Likud, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been trying to woo them for months. Such a move would bolster Netanyahu's shaky coalition that depends for its survival on small, right-wing parties that champion unlimited Israeli settlement in the West Bank.

"There's a whole shift in the political spectrum. We could be, if Netanyahu handles this correctly, on the verge of a new political dynamic," says political commentator Moshe Dann. "Kadima are fighting among themselves. If Netanyahu can convince members of Kadima that it is in their and the national interest to join his government, he will ensure his survival, eliminate Kadima as a serious rival, and establish himself as Israel's most important political leader."

It was Olmert's resignation and the subsequent ouster of his center-right Kadima party from government earlier this year that resurrected Netanyahu's career. Now his coalition's opposition to territorial concessions in the West Bank has put it on a collision course with the Palestinians and the Obama administration. Some Israelis continue to see the hand of God in all this. Settler leaders said they hoped that Netanyahu, whom they forced from power in 1999 for making concessions to the Palestinians at the Wye River peace summit, would take note. Says David Ha-Ivri, spokesman for the Samaria Regional Council, a settler organization: "We always hope that the fear of God will protect public officials from making bad moves. In our belief and understanding, eroding away our rights on the land of Israel is a bad move. I hope that this reflects on Netanyahu and strengthens him in the position of holding on to the land of Israel."

Friday 28 August 2009

East Jerusalem Arabs feel squeeze as Jews push into communities

Burgeoning development of apartments harming urban relations, critics say

TORONTO STAR, Aug 28, 2009

Matthew Kalman

JERUSALEM – Ahmed Abedat was wondering this week how much longer he will be able to enjoy the spectacular view from his grocery shop in Ras Al-Amud – from the ancient Mount of Olives cemetery across the valley to the majestic golden Dome of the Rock soaring above the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.

Abedat's father opened the store a half-century ago under Jordanian rule, when Ras Al-Amud was the first bend out of Jerusalem on the ancient road to Jericho. The shop continued to thrive after the 1967 Six Day War, when the Israelis captured East Jerusalem and the West Bank, despite an Israeli security checkpoint 100 metres down the road outside the regional headquarters of the Israeli police.

Today the checkpoint has gone, replaced by Israel's nine-metre high concrete security barrier that severs the road to Jericho and cuts off East Jerusalem from nearby villages. The police station is empty, slated as the site of new houses for 104 Jewish families.

Abedat, 60, never thought he would miss the police and the checkpoint, but as he counted his meagre $5 in takings one morning this week he doubted aloud whether his little store will be able to continue. He doesn't expect any business from his new neighbours.

"They don't talk to us. They never come to my shop to buy anything. We hardly see them," Abedat told the Star. "They want the Arabs to leave Jerusalem. They want it for themselves."

"They" are the Israeli residents of Ma'aleh HaZeitim, a half-finished compound behind Abedat's grocery. With the police station site, Ras Al-Amud will soon be home to 1,000 Israelis, the largest concentration of Jews in any Arab-populated neighbourhood of East Jerusalem. Israeli groups that encourage such migration say they are merely returning to the Jewish heartland of Jerusalem. Palestinians describe them as settlers.

"There's no reason in the world why the Jewish people can't live here and other places like it," said Daniel Luria, executive director of Ateret Cohanim, an educational organization that builds yeshivas and student housing. "This is the heart of Jerusalem, the homeland of the Jewish people and the pumping-station of the Jewish world."

The site is owned by Irving Moskowitz, a Miami casino billionaire who has spent millions of dollars buying up properties in East Jerusalem for right-wing religious groups. Moskowitz's money has helped move 50 Jewish families into the Palestinian village of Silwan, site of the ancient city of King David, as well as purchase houses in the Muslim and Christian Quarters of the Old City.

Last month, the United States demanded that Israel halt plans for 20 apartments in another Moskowitz property in Sheikh Jarrah, north of the Old City. Approval for another 200 units nearby is pending. The issue sparked a collision between the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Obama administration.

U.S. special envoy George Mitchell is trying to get Israel to freeze its construction of Jewish settlements, a Palestinian condition for resuming peace talks. He has also asked Arab states to offer gestures toward normalization of ties with Israel. A Israeli delegation will meet the U.S. envoy again next week.

Palestinian mapping expert Khalil Tafakgi said the police station project was part of a plan to keep East Jerusalem under Israeli control.

"The aim of this outpost inside the Palestinian built-up area is so as to not divide Jerusalem another time. It means that Jerusalem, east and west, will be under Israel's control and East Jerusalem will not be capital of the Palestinian state. This is the aim," said Tafakgi.

Ateret Cohanim argues that the property deals are legal.

Its opponents say that moving ultra-nationalist Jews into the heart of Arab neighbourhoods is causing irreparable damage to urban relations.

"The whole issue of settlement in East Jerusalem, which all countries except Israel recognize as occupied territory, is part of what is contributing to tension in the city rather than the good faith that could lead to a negotiated peace," said Sarah Kramer, associate director of Ir Amim, a group working for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence.

Wednesday 26 August 2009

The West Bank's English Settler

More4 News
Wednesday, August 26

Shira Gilad is spending her honeymoon on Ramat Migron - an illegal outpost on the West Bank

Saturday 22 August 2009

Israel's Visa Rule: If You Visit Palestine, Stay There

By Matthew Kalman / Ramallah
Saturday, Aug. 22, 2009

When Canadian businessman Sam Ismail brought his wife and five children to visit his brother's family in Ramallah last week, he planned to stay for 10 days and tour both Israel and the Palestinian territories. They had flown into Amman, crossed over to the West Bank. Knowing that Palestinian Authority license plates are banned in Israel, Ismail reserved a car at an Israeli rental company. But, when he got to Israeli border control, he was shocked to discover that his Canadian passport was stamped "Palestinian Authority Only." "Last time they came, they visited Acre, Haifa, Jerusalem — the whole country," Ismail's brother Nedal, who lives in the West Bank, told TIME. "This time they packed up after 96 hours and spent the extra week in Jordan instead."

Ismail had fallen afoul of an Israeli border policy, quietly begun in June, that bars foreigners who say they are visiting the Palestinian Authority from entering Israel. Israel says the visa helps to exclude visitors who threaten security. According to Israeli Interior Ministry spokeswoman Sabine Haddad, the procedure is based on an unpublished 2006 decision by the Israeli interior and defense ministers that "any foreign national who wants to enter the Palestinian Authority must have a permit issued by the army, and entry is permitted only into PA territory."

Palestinians say it violates international law and the promise of unhindered movement for foreign travelers under the 1995 Oslo II Accords. "Israel wishes to strictly regulate travel of visitors who come to the country, especially those curious to see the West Bank," says Toufic Haddad, a Palestinian-American activist. (Read about Ezra Nawi, the Israeli activist jailed for aiding Arabs.)

The policy has affected U.S. citizens. This week, Betty Najjab, an American from Centreville, Virginia and the widow of a Palestinian, was given one of the new visa stamps after visiting in-laws in Jordan. She told TIME she didn’t know if she would be able to fly home: the return leg of her ticket departs from Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport. "We have made it quite known to the Israeli Government... that we expect all American citizens to be treated the same regardless of their national origin," U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters this week. "These kinds of restrictions we consider unacceptable."

"It is being applied in an arbitrary manner," Salwa Duaibis, Coordinator for the Right to Enter Campaign in Ramallah, told TIME. "It depends on the discretion of the person sitting at the border. If you want to go and visit family in Jerusalem and you get this visa, then your whole plans are thrown out of the window."

The new policy is alienating businessmen like Khaled Sabawi of London, Ontario whose family has for years fostered investment in Palestine and whose father Mohamed was on the board of the Peres Peace Center. Sabawi runs the Ramallah-based MENA Geothermal, one of the first green energy companies in the Middle East. He has spent nearly three years traveling between Canada and Ramallah on three-month Israeli tourist visas. Last January, Sabawi was suddenly turned back at the border crossing from Jordan. Subsequently, he was denied entry twice. Since June, his visa has restricted him to Palestinian territory. Says Sabawi: "I find myself being racially profiled, interrogated by security officials and forced to wait for up to eight hours at the border."

"I can't meet with Israelis any more and lots of our equipment comes from Israeli manufacturers. I can't buy from them if I can't meet them to negotiate," Sabawi told TIME. "We will withdraw our investments if we can't be here to oversee our businesses. It will simply be too risky for us to invest in Palestine."

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Huckabee's First 2012 Campaign Stop: Israel

By Matthew Kalman / Har Bracha
Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009

Har Bracha — the Mount of Blessing — is a windswept hilltop settlement of Jews overlooking the Palestinian city of Nablus. According to biblical tradition, it is where Joshua and the children of Israel first entered the Holy Land. And, on Aug. 18, Mike Huckabee — a Baptist preacher, two-time governor of Arkansas and once and perhaps future Republican presidential candidate — received a heartfelt blessing from the local Orthodox Jewish minister. Rabbi Eliezer Melamed prayed that Huckabee would become President so that he could emulate the ancient Persian king Cyrus the Great, who encouraged the Jews to rebuild Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem. Said the rabbi: "We hope that under Mike Huckabee's presidency, he will be like Cyrus and push us to rebuild the temple and bring the final redemption."

"You have imposed upon me a rather significant role," Huckabee replied. "[To] train the Jewish people to love Israel. You're going to ask a Baptist to do that?" But speaking to TIME, he uttered words that would warm the hearts of Jewish settlers. "Do the Palestinians need a place to call their own?" he asked rhetorically. "If that's very important, then that should be accommodated. But can it be accommodated on the exact same property that Jews currently occupy? The answer is no, it can't. And so we can kid ourselves all day long and try to perpetuate this idea of having two governments running the same country, but it's not worked out and it's not realistic."

The three-day visit is Huckabee's 11th trip to Israel. The Arkansan, who is widely expected to seek the presidency again, in 2012, visited sites heavily weighted toward one side in the Middle East conflict: Israeli homes in predominantly Arab neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements on the West Bank, including an outpost considered illegal even by the current Israeli government. He explored underground tunnels in the ancient city of King David, which are slowly being excavated from underneath the Palestinian village of Silwan in East Jerusalem; he also visited the place where Jacob dreamed of a ladder leading up to heaven, in the West Bank settlement of Beth-El, next to an Israeli military base on the outskirts of the Palestinian city of Ramallah.

"It's inconceivable that we would ever understand how two sovereign governments would control the very same piece of real estate. We don't know how that would work," Huckabee said, elaborating on his opposition to the two-state solution. He compared the ban on Israeli settlements in Arab areas of East Jerusalem and the West Bank to segregation between black and white Americans in the deep South during his childhood. He called for "integration" between Israelis and Arabs.

The Obama Administration has been at odds with the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over settlement activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and Huckabee has used his trip to accuse Obama of zigzagging on pledges he made to Israel during the 2008 campaign. "Our primary concern ought to be whether or not Iran is weaponizing nuclear material, not whether 20 peaceful Jewish families happen to be moving into a neighborhood in their own country," he said.

As for his own ambitions, Huckabee remained coy, saying it was "just too early to determine" whether he will run in 2012. He said the vast amount of financing that is required to run risks limiting candidates to "the very rich." "I would have to know that my candidacy would be credible enough and likely lead to a victory; otherwise, I'm far better off doing what I'm doing, and probably will have a greater level of voice and influence on the process with radio and television." (Huckabee now hosts a television show on Fox.)

Huckabee was in Israel as a guest of the Jewish Reclamation Project of Ateret Cohanim, an Israeli educational foundation that aims to strengthen the Israeli presence in occupied East Jerusalem through the purchase of property for study centers and the families of students and teachers. Against bitter opposition from Palestinian groups and left-wing Israeli organizations, Ateret Cohanim has established yeshiva study institutes in the Muslim and Christian quarters of Jerusalem's Old City and encouraged housing projects for nearly 1,000 Jews in Arab neighborhoods where Jewish residents were forced to leave more than 60 years ago because of wars and unrest. The group boasts of its activities in "hot areas" of East Jerusalem. Its plans to develop 20 new Israeli homes were denounced last month by the Obama Administration. Huckabee told TIME that he purchased his own air ticket and was not a member of Ateret Cohanim. "I have no personal connection," he said. "I don't think they would let me in since I'm not Jewish."

Joseph D. Frager, a New York physician who is chairman of the Jerusalem Reclamation Project and on the board of Ateret Cohanim, said he organized the trip because he believes Huckabee "understands the Middle East probably better than most political leaders in America." Frager told TIME, "I compare Huckabee to Winston Churchill a lot, because Churchill was a fundamentalist Christian, [which] very [few] people realize. Huckabee has the same type of fundamentalist Christian background that enables him to understand the dynamics of the state of Israel, Judea and Samaria in particular, and of course, Jerusalem. Mike Huckabee represents the majority of Americans, fundamentalist Christians or not. The majority of Americans' views are a lot more closely aligned with Governor Huckabee than they are with President Obama."

But perhaps not with the views of all Israelis. Peace Now leader Yariv Oppenheimer was among several dozen protesters who greeted Huckabee on Aug. 17. "It's very easy to live in America and tell us to keep fighting the Palestinians," Oppenheimer told TIME. "We deeply believe that the two-state solution is an Israeli interest, and before someone from abroad comes to speak to us about taking over land and neglecting peace, he should remember that he is not the one who will have to fight in the army, stand at the checkpoints and continue to fight wars because there is no vision for peace in this country." (See pictures of the divided city of Jerusalem.)

Huckabee was certainly unwelcome in the eyes of Palestinians. Dimitri Diliani, a newly elected member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said the former governor was "stupid" and "un-American." "He is damaging to the official U.S. policy regarding illegal settlement activities in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem," Diliani told TIME. "He represents a petty politician looking for petty support from the American right, whose heydays are far behind us. Settlement activity is criminal in nature. In being the icing on the cake in the eyes of the fanatics in the Israeli settlement movement, he is an example of how low a politician will go to get an audience."

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Monday 3 August 2009

Fatah leader warns of party split

JERUSALEM POST, Aug. 3, 2009

As more than 2,000 delegates gathered in Bethlehem for the long-delayed Sixth Fatah Congress, the leader of Fatah in Bethlehem warned of a split in the party if the leadership denies a role to the younger generation who launched a wave of violence against Israel in the second intifada.

"There will be a clear split within Fatah," Abdullah Abu Hadid, secretary of Fatah in Bethlehem and a leader of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, told The Media Line in an exclusive interview. "We have the leaders of the first and second intifadas and the real leaders of the Palestinian people, the leaders of the Palestinian street."

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been struggling to stay in control of the movement after they lost an election in 2006 to Hamas and were expelled from Gaza in a bloody coup the following year.

"I think that what's known as the Old Guard in Fatah gave what it could and it has nothing more to give," Abu Hadid said. "The movement needs to have new blood in its leadership, a young leadership."

"The sixth Fatah conference is drowning in oppression with people who have nothing to do with Fatah or its history," he added. "They just want to choose an Oslo leadership with a Zionist-American plan."

The gathering is the first meeting of the Fatah congress for more than 20 years and a rare opportunity to refresh the ranks of its aging leaders. Four of its 21-member ruling central committee have died and the surviving members, including Abbas, are all aged over 65. The congress will elect a new central committee and a new 120-member revolutionary council.

Abu Hadid said he wanted to see Marwan Barghouti, the former Fatah West Bank secretary-general now serving five life terms for murder in an Israeli jail, elected to the central committee and even as leader.

He said the jailed leader was "Fatah's savior and salvation" but warned that his appointment to the central committee would not be enough to stem a rebellion within the ranks.

Abu Hadid warned of a "third intifada" directed this time against the Palestinian leaders as well as the Israelis. He said the sense of frustration among ordinary Palestinians - at the lack of progress in talks with Israel, the economic situation and the corruption of senior officials - was worse today than in the weeks preceding the outbreak of the last intifada in 2000.

"If there's a third intifada, it will be in order to change the course of negotiations, to change the conduct of the Palestinian Authority, and change the conduct of the current leadership," he said. "The people won't enter a direct confrontation with the Israelis without correcting things at home and without amending things domestically."

"It's worse now than it was in 2000," he continued. "The Palestinian street is impoverished, the prices are rising without stop, Palestinian dignity is diminishing, Israelis are being hostile in Judaizing Jerusalem, demolishing houses in Jerusalem, arresting Palestinians on a daily basis, and the leadership isn't capable of protecting people."

But Thiab Ayyoush, president of Palestine Ahliya University and a former deputy minister who has been nominated for a seat on the revolutionary council, said there could be a compromise between the different generations.

"This conference is seen by most of the Palestinians, if not all, as very important because after our experience of building the Palestinian state since 1994 it is the first time that we have a real opportunity to examine and see what was done through these years," said Prof Ayyoush.

"We can't say that the old people are expired," he said. "We can't say this because we're still in need, you know, for their wisdom and their experience. However, we would like also to see the young people participate in this movement and have their role, their active role."

"Marwan Barghouti is one of the main leaders of the intifada and the people who are qualified for leadership," Ayyoush added. "We respect him. He spent a lot of years in the Israeli prisons and I think he is qualified but there are many persons who are also qualified."

Prof Ayyoush said the differences between the Fatah factions were more about style than about substance.

Gay vs. Orthodox: A Deadly Turn in Israel's Culture War?

Monday, Aug. 03, 2009
By Matthew Kalman / Jerusalem

Israeli police launched a citywide manhunt through Tel Aviv for the masked, black-clad gunman who opened fire with a pistol at a gay youth club on Saturday night, Aug. 1, killing two and wounding 15 more. While the authorities have been careful not to speculate on a motive for the crime, the city's stunned gay community was not hesitant about assigning blame for the atmosphere they believe was conducive to the crime. Pointing to Orthodox Jewish gay-bashers, gay activists say the shots fired in the club for teenagers — the most serious in a series of verbal and physical attacks on their community — were a violent manifestation of Israel's ongoing culture war. The attack spotlights the tensions within Israeli society as it tries to balance Western liberalism and Orthodox Jewish values.

Tel Aviv is considered one of the world's favorite gay holiday destinations, celebrated for its nightlife, carefree beaches and tolerant atmosphere. In 2005, the city launched the country's first municipally funded gay center, and in 2007, the Israel Ministry of Tourism launched a marketing campaign specifically targeting the gay community, featuring photographs of tattooed, yarmulka-clad men kissing. In many areas of Israel, gay couples are treated as equals. They can adopt children and enjoy equal inheritance rights. The Israeli diplomatic service was one of the first to grant full rights to gay partners. (See a video about Jerusalem's gay-pride parade.)

But the Tel Aviv that is the epitome of Israeli gay rights is only a short bus ride from one of the more inflexible Orthodox communities in the country, Bnei Brak. And in all matters connected to religion, gay rights are considered subservient to traditional Jewish teaching, in which male homosexuality is outlawed and lesbians simply do not exist.

Israel has long struggled with the demands of modern society and the increasingly strident calls from the ultra-Orthodox to bring public life more in line with rigid Jewish teachings. There is no separation of church and state in Israel, where religious facilities — including those for the Muslim and Christian communities — are funded by the government but controlled by the religious establishment. There is a wary standoff between the state judicial system and the religious courts, leading to increasingly frequent showdowns over cases involving divorce and religious conversion. (Read how opposition to gay rights unites Israel's contentious faiths.)

Passions can run high. Advertising billboards featuring scantily clad women are periodically destroyed. There is a legal battle under way over demands to run separate public buses for men and women on routes serving ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. Recently Jerusalem has seen weekly protests over a municipal decision to open a parking lot on the Sabbath. Last year, a former Health Minister from the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party blamed a series of small earth tremors on the rise of homosexual activity. Earlier, Shas had led religious opposition to gay couples' being granted the right to adopt children.

Nitzan Horowitz, a gay lawmaker from the left-wing Meretz Party, blamed the attack on "years of unremitting incitement from parliamentarians, rabbis and public figures." He added, "I attribute this to the general incitement and hate with which we have been contending for years in this community." Shas, however, was quick to condemn Saturday's killings. "We are shocked and bereaved, and denounce without reservation the murderous incident that targeted Tel Aviv's gay community," the party said in a statement. Israel's chief rabbis described the killings as "an unthinkable, vile crime."

Still, the ultra-Orthodox and the gay community have been known to come to physical blows. Gay activists recall the 2005 pride march in Jerusalem, when an ultra-Orthodox man leaped into the crowd and stabbed three marchers before he could be restrained by police. The violence came after the city's ultra-Orthodox mayor had tried to ban the march but was overruled in court. The following year, police ordered 12,000 officers to protect a few hundred marchers from possible ultra-Orthodox violence. Even Tel Aviv has not been exempt from gay-bashing. Gay activist Shlomi Laufer, writing in Tel Aviv's daily Yedioth Ahronoth, recalled two men embracing on the boardwalk being spat on and others being chased with baseball bats and even stabbed.

"The problems in Israeli society run very deep," Saar Netanel, a gay leader and former Jerusalem city councilor who opened the city's only gay bar, tells TIME. He explains that while Jews are united by their conflict with the Palestinians, the obsession with security comes at the expense of dealing with other social issues. "There are more than two societies here," says Netanel. "It's a very diverse population in Israel. There is one part of Israel, my camp, for whom the temple is the Supreme Court and we believe in democracy and we want a liberal and modern country; and there is a part of Israel that wants a more religious country — some of them even want the rule of Jewish law, not a democracy. They don't believe in the courts — they believe in the law of the Torah."

For many Israelis, Saturday's killings recalled the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995, when a lone shooter capped months of hate-filled rhetoric against Israel's elder statesman by gunning him down as he left a peace rally in the same city. "The pistol did not act on its own, the gunman did not act on his own — what stood behind him was incitement and hatred," Labor lawmaker Shelly Yachimovich said at an impromptu gathering near the site of the shootings on Sunday, consciously echoing comments made after Rabin's assassination.