Tonight, Israel marks the 13th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Lest we think that this somber occasion would be a moment of pure reflection, national introspection, and so forth, Rabin’s son Yuval has made sure that the connection to Israel’s current political miasma remains fresh.
But not in the way you might expect. Yuval Rabin met today with none other than Benjamin Netanyahu, who was widely branded by Rabin’s supporters as bearing indirect responsibility for the murder — for having created what was called a “climate of incitement” that seemed to legitimize and justify the crime. Rabin’s widow Leah famously refused to shake Netanyahu’s hand. But now her son not only appears to be making peace with Israel’s opposition leader, but also apparently lending him public support in advance of the coming elections. When confronted by reporters (according to the Hebrew-language site NRG), Rabin said that he was “unwilling to live only in the past, but also in the present and future . . . reality has changed. Just look at who else is running in the elections.”
That’s a pretty nasty slam, not just against Rabin’s heir in Labor, Ehud Barak, but even more so against Kadima head Tzipi Livni. Yet it is more interesting in the broader context of Netanyahu’s recent string of high-profile catches over the last few months. First Gen. Uzi Dayan, the nephew of the famous general and Labor figure Moshe Dayan, a few months ago. Then, more recently, Benny Begin, the son of former Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Tomorrow, Netanyahu is reportedly going to announce the return of Dan Meridor, a long-time Likud moderate with an unrepentant early-Beatles haircut. Rabin has not yet suggested that he would actually run for a spot on the Likud list, but the speculation is rife.
What do all three of these new additions have in common? A strong reputation of either clean hands or centrist views, which Bibi does not. This suggests an important PR makeover for Likud. Given the odor of corruption hanging around Kadima, it’s a strategy that may well work.