The assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin in 1995 shocked Israel to its roots but as the memory of the event fades new narratives emerge that twist history to suit current political agendas. This seems to be the case with the movie “Incitement” that just won Best Picture and Best Director at the prestigious 2019 Ophir Awards on Sunday night.
Culture Minister Miri Regev criticized the film, saying the movie was part of an agenda to malign Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Yigal Amir is a murderer who shot a bullet into the heart of the nation and did the worst thing possible, kill a prime minister in a democracy,” said Regev. “There is no place for a film that tries to understand him or his motivations, or to hint or accuse others of being behind his heinous act.”
“The creators did not miss an opportunity to assign Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a part in the incitement campaign,” she said, calling such a portrayal “a distortion and an attempt to mislead the public, which was completely detached from reality.”
Regev refused to watch the movie.
In fact, Netanyahu was not part of any anti-Rabin incitement. The most egregious incitement were posters distributed at a Likud rally depicting Rabin in a Nazi SS uniform. The Shamgar commission tasked with investigating the assassination concluded that the posters were produced and distributed by the Shin Bet (the Israeli internal security service also referred to as the Shabak). The posters were a ploy devised by Avishai Raviv, a Shin Bet agent who befriended Amir and urged him to kill Rabin while posing as a righ-wing extremist. Raviv did so in order to document activities and people within the settler community.
The anti-Netanyahu agenda was not just implicit in the movie but was one of the motivating factors of its creators. The director, Yaron Zilberman, criticized Netanyahu during his acceptance speech, describing him as corrupt. He praised Rabin and said he hoped that future leaders would unite the country.
This comes after the second-round elections culminated in a near-tie in which Netanyahu is struggling to form a coalition.
It should be noted that Rabin did not, in fact, leave a legacy of a united Israel. After signing the Oslo Accords with Yasser Arafat, much of the nation felt disenfranchised and the right-wing religious settlers who lived in Judea and Samaria felt a strong hatred from the secular left-wing living in the center of the country. Shimon Peres replaced Rabin after the assassination but lost to Netanyahu in the following elections held in 1996. Those elections were incredibly close with Peres initially being declared the winner.
HBO recently aired a ten-episode series titled “Our Boys.” Billed as a dramatized depiction of the murder of three Israeli teens in 2014. In fact, the murder of the Jewish teens was barely seen. Almost the entirety of the movie dealt with the subsequent murder of a Palestinian teen carried out by a three Jews who were later convicted for that crime. The film depicted Jewish settlers in a manner at least one critic described as “neo-nazis.” That critic felt it was an apt depiction. Netanyahu criticized the film as being “cynical and harmful.”
Yigal Amir, who murdered Rabon, is now 49 and is serving a life sentence and is being held in solitary confinement.
Incitement will now be Israel’s official selection for consideration for a Best Foreign Language Film Oscar nomination.