Killing the King

Many in Israel and the Jewish diaspora are reading a new book Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron.it’s been 20 year since the assassination of the Israeli PM, Yitzhak Rabin.

Killing

The villain in the book is convicted assassin, Yigal Amir, who was a student of law at Bar-Ilan university near Tel aviv, a school with religious Zionist roots.

Though not strictly Orthodox in orientation, it attracts mainly conservative Jews to its campus. It has had a hard time living down its relationship to Amir, the fanatical true believer who is serving a life sentence for his ugly handiwork.

During the last war crime in Gaza (2014) Hanoch Sheinman, a philosophy professor at the law school sent an e-mail to his second year law students expressing sympathy for all victims in Gaza. On the surface a minimal act of concern. But not so fast,herr professor. The law school dean, Shachar Lifshits upbraided Sheinman whom he said “contravened the values of the university and the law faculty … This constitutes the inappropriate use of the power given to a lecturer to exploit the platform given to him as a law teacher … that … seriously offended the students and their families.”

Another take was that of Stanford prof Steven J. Zipperstein, who teaches Jewish Culture and History:
“There is no reason to doubt that Lifshits is telling the truth when he says that Sheinman’s e-mail offended. And that’s the problem. That he then goes on to say that the sentiments expressed in it conflict with the values of his university, an institution inspired by religious convictions, chills one’s bones. And this from an institution, indeed a law school, that ought to be keenly attuned to what an inability to empathize with basic human rights can result in. Yitzhak Rabin’s assassin, Yigal Amir, was a law student in November 1995 at the time he murdered the prime minister.”

Zipperstein notes that, “Never before in an Israeli military conflict has the mere expression of empathy for Arab civilian dead and wounded been seen, beyond the political fringe, as akin to betrayal … Sheinman’s dean has asked him to apologize. But it’s Lifshits who ought to offer an apology …”

No comment need be made here other than witnessing the erosion of humanitarian impulses, the failure to see the Other as a human being

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