The Plot to Kill Yitzhak Rabin

Co-author Ina Friedman

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A dramatic tale of intrigue and malice, Murder in the Name of God investigates and re-creates the tragic events of November 4, 1995. On that night, a twenty-five-years-old student, Yigal Amir, fired three shots that killed Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, an act that changed the course of the Middle East peace process for a decade.

Based on exhaustive research, including an exclusive interview with the assassin, Murder in the name of God is the sole book to give the full story of the people whose words and deeds made Rabin’s assassination possible: the extremist rabbis who condemned Rabin by invoking an arcane Talmudic ruling; the right wing politicians who joined in a sophisticated campaign of incitement against him; the militant Israeli settlers, for whom the Oslo accords spelled betrayal; and the security agents who failed to understand the obvious signs. In a series of shocking revelations, Murder in the Name of God ranges beyond Israel to show the extent American support – ideological and financial – for the movement that produced Rabin’s killer.

More than a tale of assassination, Murder in the Name of God is a powerful indictment of a society’s failure of will, its reluctance to look at itself honestly, and its unwillingness to bring its own worst enemies to justice.

Rabin's stone in Rabin's Square

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Chapter One - The savior

            Before you sits a polite young man, relaxed, self-possessed, almost serene.  He speaks softly and laughs engagingly; in no way does his bearing suggest violence.  At first he murmurs just above a whisper, forcing you to listen intently. He sounds like a missionary bent on redeeming a sinner. And that sinner is you because of your lack of faith; because of your spiritual weakness; because of your failure to grasp his reasoning and appreciate his achievement. On second glance he seems almost euphoric, at peace with himself, imbued with a sense of great power, awash in his success. He has no doubt whatsoever that he has accomplished the deed of the century.

He welcomes a battle of wits. Schooled in talmudic argument, he is an agile opponent. He never retreats when his assault is blocked, just attacks from another angle. The words flow easily off his tongue, and he even has a sense of humor, a hint of self-deprecation. At times he will giggle in discomfort, then recover and attack again, jumping from a shallow slogan to tortuous talmudic reasoning. Intoxicated by his own rhetoric, he is convinced he has won the day. His eyes shine with satisfaction as a smug smile spreads across his lips.

Yigal Amir is a strong man, accustomed to self-discipline. He has trained himself to defy the world, for he lives in a world of his own. Alone, in cold blood, he murdered the prime minister of Israel and has refused to ask for forgiveness. Remorse is one of the signs professionals seek in scrutinizing a criminal's profile. Its absence bespeaks a deeply disturbed personality. That is the most blatant trait of psychopaths, who are often clever, charming, and popular. Yet punishment does not deter them, and they never express regret. Is Yigal Amir a psychopath? The court psychiatrists who examined him pronounced that he is not. Raised in a cohesive family, he fitted well into social frameworks in school, volunteer groups, and the army. At the university he was an outstanding peer leader. He is a most unusual phenomenon, but then so is political assassination.

Amir identified with an avant-garde of Jewish zealots: elitists in their own eyes, fanatics in the estimation of others. They have isolated themselves in small yeshivas, in settlements on the hilltops of Samaria, in the courtyards and alleyways of Hebron, in Joseph s Tomb in Nablus. Like them he has embraced a system of values that are messianic and anarchistic in the view of society at large. Like them he feels only contempt for anything that smacks of the Establishment. The powers that be are infected with hypocrisy.  The rabbis assail secular Jews for their crassness but gladly live off their taxes.  The settlers are cowed by the government. A settler wouldn’t have dared to kill Rabin, he sneered to the police officer who interrogated him. I didn’t grow up in their hothouse. I don t look up to them. I mean I think theyre wrong to bow their heads all the time. The settlers are concerned about their image. Theyre timid, terrified people.


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"Israelis still have a lot of questions about the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin by Yigal Amir on Nov. 4, 1995. Karpin, an Israeli journalist, and Friedman, an American-born Dutch correspondent, attempt, with significant success, not only to answer most of these questions but also to describe the social, religious and political background against which the murder took place". 

The New York Times, David B. Green, January 10, 1999


“An exploration of a political crime, it is a model of its kind, well researched and presented.”

The Times (London)


“A much-needed portrait of a dissident faction within Israel that seeks to retain the occupied territories at any cost.”

Kirkus Reviews


“Two years after the assassination of their prime minister, Israeli journalists Karpin and Friedman have produced not only a chilling profile of the murderer but also an exposé of the right-wing zealotry that created him.”

Publishers Weekly, October 26, 1998


"What the Shamgar Commission left out, because it was beyond its mandate as established by the government, was faithfully filled in by Michael Karpin and Ina Friedman in their book entitled "Murder in the Name of God". The book paints, over hundreds of pages, nearly the entire picture of those black days. Any new discovery on this matter would be something of a surprise".

Eitan Haber, Jerusalem Post, November 7, 1999


 “Karpin and Friedman recount how the mainstream opponents of the Oslo accords collaborated with violent extremists in a campaign to wreck the peace process by vilifying Rabin. Murder in the Name of God will ensure that the events surrounding the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin are sealed in the historical record”.

Joshua A. Brook, the Washington Monthly,
December 1998


”This is a painstaking and detailed account of conspiracy to murder the man who was Israel's best hope of achieving peace, if only Israel – or a certain part of Israeli religious and political thought – had permitted him to do it”.

The Financial Times,
February 20, 1999


“Co-written by one of Israel’s most prominent journalists, this disheartening exposé of the right-wing zealots and political rivalries behind the Israeli prime minister’s assassination in 1995 includes an exclusive interview with convicted killer Yigal Amir and reveals a startling degree of American complicity.”

The San Francisco Chronicle


“A penetrating investigation of a society still driven by its failure to resolve the conflict between religion and secularism, religion and modernity.”

Tristan Quinn, the Observer (UK), April 23, 2000


"In this book, Michael Karpin and Ina Friedman are circumspect. They build up a detailed analysis of a violent subculture which has percolated into the mainstream and still threatens Israeli democracy".

The Independent, February 16, 1999


"It is undoubtedly a well argued, factual and highly disturbing investigation into the political cesspool of Israeli extremism and its rationalisation of incitement and cold-blooded murder".

Colin Shindler, the Guardian, April 17, 1999

"The authors have produced a comprehensive and balanced account of some of the more disturbing aspects of this religious fundamentalism, such as rabbinical rulings sanctifying Rabin's killing and calls by certain rabbis to soldiers to disobey orders to withdraw from Judea and Samaria".

Efraim Karsh, the Middle East Quarterly, September 1999


“The authors have produced a comprehensive and balanced account of some of the more disturbing aspects of this religious fundamentalism, such as rabbinical rulings sanctifying Rabin's killing and calls by certain rabbis to soldiers to disobey orders to withdraw from Judea and Samaria.”
The Middle East Quarterly


"Karpin and Friedman provide an able, well-informed, journalistic account of the Rabin assassination, both its immediate causes and the campaign of incitement that gave rise to it.”

TLS, March 5, 1999


"Reading this book makes one really understand the most important
crisis of contemporary Israel."

David Zyngier, Australian Jewish Democratic Society, July 2000


"A compelling work of investigative journalism."

Jewish Chronicle,
February 26, 1999


"It should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in the complexities of Israeli-Palestinian politics and in the hazards of peace processes worldwide"

Sunday Tribune, February 21, 1999


"This is an important book, which not only analyses the build-up to the most famous political murder in Israel but also alerts us to the dangers today".

Julia Pascal, The Independent, February 16, 1999


"This book deserves to be read by anyone who wants to understand the complex and dangerous situation that still exists in Israel".

The Sunday Times, February 14, 1999


"Karpin and Friedman provide overwhelming evidence to support three critical claims. First, Rabin's murder should have come as no surprise… Second, Amir was neither deranged nor isolated in his belief. Far from representing a "lunatic fringe" living on the margins of Israeli society, he came out of a world and subculture that represent an important component of Israel and its body politic… Third, several individuals on the mainstream right, most notably Binyamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon, did not hesitate to rely on the religious and radical right to promote their own agendas".

Juilain Denoeux, Middle East Policy, June 1999


"'Murder in the Name of God' is a chilling account of how, in the wrong hands, religious precepts can be twisted to fit any purpose. As Israeli politics moves into its next phase, one can only hope that this comprehensive exposé will help prevent any future tragedies".

Sarah Coleman, Jewish Bulletin of Northern California


The charge of treachery dominates Ina Friedman and Michael Karpin's new book. Yitzhak Rabin was labeled a traitor from the moment he signed the Oslo peace accord in September 1993. Two years later he was dead. Words matter in Israeli politics".

Tim Franks, New Statement, March 5 1999



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The Jewish Quarterly: Tuesday, 18 May, 1998
8.00pm in Lecture Theatre, BG

Jacob Sonntag memorial lecture: Michael Karpin, author of Murder in the name of God/the plot to kill Yitzhak Rabin will discuss his book. Chair: Professor Fred Halliday. Admission £5, students £3 - available from the Jewish Quarterly, POB 2078, London W1


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Hardcover, November 1998
Henry Holt and Company, New York

Copyright @ 1998 by Michael Karpin and Ina Friedman

ISBN 0-8050-5749-8

Paperback, 2000
Updated second edition in 2001
Granta Books, London

Copyright @ 2000 by Michael Karpin and Ina Friedman

ISBN: 1862073171

Der Tod des Jitzhak Rabin – Anatomie einer Verschwerung

Rowholt Verlag Gmbh, Reinbek bei Hamburg, Germany, 1998

ISBN 3 498 03496 0

Murder in the Name of God: The Plot to Kill Yitzhak Rabin (Hebrew)

Zmora Bitan Publishers, Tel Aviv, 1999

NLS: Talking Book

Murder in the Name of God: The Plot to Kill Yitzhak Rabin (Hebrew)

Zmora Bitan Publishers, Tel Aviv, 1999

Audio Cassette

Murder in the Name of God: The Plot to Kill Yitzhak Rabin     
By Michael Karpin and Ina Friedman

Publisher: Books on Tape; Unabridged edition 1999
Language: English

ISBN: 0736648070


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Deborah Harris @ Harris Elon Literary Agency, Jerusalem


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New York Times Books; Review by David B. Green

New York Times Books, First chapter

Granta Books

The Washington Monthly; Review by Joshua A. Brook

Arizona State library

New Statesman; Review by Tim Franks

Washington Report; Review by Allan C. Brownfeld


The Independent

Middle East Policy

EIR – Executive Intelligence Review; Book review by Michele Steinberg

EIR - Jewish Fundamentalism’s ‘Errant Weeds’ Threaten Israel and Palestine
By Michele Steinberg and Neil Marti

Talking Books, National Library Service for the Blind and Physically
Handicapped; RC 49200

Jewish Post

American Council for Judaism

Jewish world review

Ha'aretz  - Akiva Eldar (in Hebrew)

William Duane's blog

Rabin Center Official Site

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia – Neofascism and Religion

Conspiracies – Barry Chamish


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