The trigger was pulled by the assassin Yigal Amir on November, 1995, but the bullets that tore into Rabin's body had started on their fatal course as far back as 1967.
Following the June 1967 war, Israelis, both leaders and citizens, were drunk with victory, and a political climate hitherto almost unknown emerged in the country. Rabbis claimed God's hand was in this victory, as it had been achieved in six days "and on the seventh the army rested." Thus the Almighty once again became "the Lord of Hosts." The chief Army Chaplain, Rabbi-General Shlomo Goren, was traveling up and down the newly conquered - in his view, liberated - territories, blowing his shofar (a ram's horn) from Nablus (Shchem in Hebrew), where, according to the Bible, Israel's first king Saul had been anointed by the prophet Samuel, up to Mount Sinai, where Moses is said to have handed down the Ten Commandments to the Children of Israel.
So it went on: suddenly, the secular State of Israel became increasingly impregnated with religious overtones and every site, stone and tree, in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) was resonating with biblical meaning.
Taken by surprise, Israel's Labor government under Levi Eshkol and Moshe Dayan, put up little resistance when, in 1968, Rabbi Moshe Levinger forced down their throats the first Jewish settlement in the OPT named Kiryat Arba, overlooking Hebron, the city of the Patriarchs.
A new sociopolitical fabric was weaved in Israeli society - the intimate fusion between religion and ultra-nationalism. This combination molded a new Israeli consciousness: that of the deeply religious person who at the same time was a fanatical nationalist, ready to give his life and take the lives of others in the holy war over the possession of all of Eretz Yisrael, the Land of Israel, promised by the Almighty to "his people." Those "others" were, first, "hated" Arabs and, ultimately, "traitorous" Jews as well.
All that followed is history: the massive settling of the West Bank and Gaza on land either confiscated from Palestinians or conveniently proclaimed "state land"; the increasingly aggressive attitude towards Palestinians, culminating in the killings perpetrated by members of the Jewish terrorist group, misnamed the "Jewish underground"; the massacre of some 30 Moslems in prayer in Hebron; and, finally, the murder of Prime Minister Rabin - all can be traced back to the fusion of religion and nationalism, that has always been (as with Islamic Jihad and Hamas) such a highly explosive cocktail.
Even today, most settler rabbis, as well as other nationalistic rabbis liv¬ing in Israel proper, refuse to accept at least moral responsibility for teach
ings that fertilized the soil from which those heinous deeds sprang up.
Rabin was killed because he dared to recognize the PLO and Arafat as legitimate partners in the peace process. He was killed because he was ready to give up territory for peace. He was killed - and Yigal Amir allud¬ed to this - because he had the audacity to state that the Bible was neither a title deed nor a map outlining Israel's frontiers.
Shimon Peres has pledged to continue Rabin's quest for peace. This is not an easy undertaking, especially as Israel's nationalist-religious opposi¬tion has again started to incite public opinion against the peace process.