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Le Dernier Jour d’Yitzhak Rabin (Rabin, the last day)

Thursday 12 May 2016, by SIGNIS

By Amos Gitaï, (France, Israel), 2016

Washington, DC. May, 12th, 2015 (G.C.) One of the most committed and renowned Israeli filmmakers, Amos Gitaï, has reconstructed in his latest feature film the last day of Yitzhak Rabin, who was shot during a rally on November 4th, 1995 in Tel Aviv.

He links the causes of the murder with the occupation of the Palestinian territories and with the Israeli victory in 1967. Religious fundamentalist Rabbis saw it as a sign of God. In the light of the Oslo Peace process in 1993, Rabin talked with the Palestinians and the religious fundamentalists began to accuse him of being a traitor because it made an end to the dream of an exclusive Jewish State in a greater Israel. The accord meant a two states solution, one state for Israelis and one state for Palestinians. In public meetings with the political leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, who was against these Oslo Accord, they openly asked for the death of Rabin.

A praying congregation of radical Jews considered him as devilish and against the Torah. One of its rabbis passed a Din Rodef against Rabin so that it was, in the eyes of the radicals, a license to kill. The film is more than about the last day of the Israeli prime minister. It goes beyond it with the governmental investigation commission set up after the murder.

Gitaï starts his film with a short interview with Shimon Perez who was with Rabin the day of the murder. It documents the context of the Oslo Accord and indicates that there were Israelis who wanted peace and Israelis who did not want peace. The latter were openly hostile and presenting cartoons of Rabin in Nazi uniform. They wanted his death. Despite these negative hate campaigns, Rabin continued to give speeches in public. He was encouraged by those who believed that the Oslo Accord was to bring peace. Perez believed that if Rabin was not murdered the relations between Palestinians and Israelis would be peaceful.

After these words from Perez, the film starts and continues for over two and a half hours. The first scenes show Rabin at his last meeting with thousands of people, believing in his peace policy. Gitaï lets us hear Rabin’s speech and shows his fearless behavior with the crowd encouraging him to continue. Then the images turn from colour to black and white and everything becomes chaotic. It evokes a feeling of a menace … it is if the murder will happen at any moment, but colour returns and everything seems normal.

The tension drops – a relief, nothing happens. If we watch carefully, we see a young man in a blue T-shirt making his way towards Rabin through the security. He pulls his gun and shoots Rabin three times in his back. Most of this was filmed by a cameraman who had a feeling that something was going to happen that day. He saw the murderer, Yigal Amir, and thought he was dressed like an undercover agent (a plainclothes police officer) just like the one who he had spoken minutes before. Gitaï suggests here that there was a kind of conspiracy and introduces a thriller element. He mixes fiction and non-fiction which heightens the drama considerably. The film is also a courthouse drama.

With the arrival of Amir at the police station, he asked a male officer for his registration and a skullcap, which the female officer refuses. Indirectly, through a radio message, we learn that Amir was a religious law student, member of the radical right wing movement Eyal. In the morning he had prayed in the synagogue that the killing would succeed. It is evident later that he has no remorse in having killed Rabin.
Rabin’s death was publicly announced on November 5, that he was murdered in the battle for peace.

Later the investigation commission closed its eyes about the radicalism of the illegal Jewish settlers, the fundamentalist rabbis and their politicians. Their actions against the Palestinians had violated the Geneva convention since 1967 and had been condemned by the United Nations. The commission was asked only to inquire about the failure by the police in protecting Rabin. It did not debate the origins, the motives and the responsibilities for the murder, although one of the judges was called later to do so for the sake of democracy. It did not happen.

The film ends with images of a poster of Netanyahu with the slogan a “strong leader for a strong nation”. He won the election of 1996 and he buried the peace process. He had no more talks with Palestinians whom he more dehumanized even more, calling them “beasts”, with hundreds of thousands new illegal Jewish settlers in the occupied territories destroying the means of existence of Palestinians and no initiatives to begin to respect the Geneva convention and the condemnations of the United Nations.

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