Israeli professor suffers from backlash over controversial Rabin assassination comments

Reverberations continue for professor after his controversial remarks at a pro-Netanyahu rally. 

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Rabin Center has cancelled a lecture that was to be given under its auspices by a professor who raised the possibility that then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was not assassinated by the person sitting in prison for the crime.

Mordechai Kedar, a Middle East and Arab language and culture expert who is also a lecturer at Bar Ilan University, addressed a rally for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on October 29. During his speech, he said that he has proof that a man with the initials YR had killed Rabin as part of a leftist conspiracy, and not Yigal Amir, who admitted to the assassination and is serving a life sentence for it.

The cancellation was unsurprising, given the fact that after Kedar’s allegations went viral, the library and research center named for the prime minister reacted by calling him a “sick headline seeker with the conspiracy theory of the day, who reaps [his] seven minutes of fame” and wishing him a “speedy recovery.”

The Raanana municipality has also canceled a scheduled Kedar lecture on the Middle East, according to Arutz 7.

These cancellations come on the heels of the Bar Ilan administration’s decision to suspend the respected lecturer from representing the university in conferences abroad. It will also haul him before a disciplinary committee.

Bar Ilan President Prof. Aryeh Zaban told Army Radio last Thursday that Kedar had displayed “intellectual irresponsibility” and “used his rank and university to say hallucinatory things” that were outside his area of expertise, whereas “things that a university professor says are given weight. We’re talking about very significant things.”

There are many who have been disgusted by the barrage directed at Kedar, which included harsh condemnations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Likud ministers as well as a range of politicians on the left side of the political spectrum.

The Zionist Im Tirtzu organization initiated a petition in support of Kedar that was signed by thousands of people in the week since the university announced the summons to the disciplinary committee.

Praising Kedar for his “sense of mission” in “fighting falsehood, incitement and propaganda against the State and its citizens, all on his own time,” it criticized Bar Ilan University for singling him out when its anti-religious, anti-Zionist and pro-BDS academics have not been reprimanded for hateful public speech and support for extreme leftist organizations.

“It is permissible to criticize Dr. Kedar as he criticizes others. It is fair to say that his words are in error or that they are unworthy,” the petition says. “That is why the State of Israel is a free state with freedom of opinion and expression. But from here to the serious injury to his name and livelihood, and his silencing by summonses to disciplinary committees, is going a long way.”

Kedar has refused to take back his allegations, which he says are based on a years-long private investigation by Nahum Shachaf, an Israel Prize winner who works for the government.

But while reiterating his call for a new state investigation into the assassination in a long statement reported on the Srugim website Tuesday, he said that he would not deal with the subject anymore.

It demands “serious study,” he said, while he preferred to get back to the subject he called “the love of my life (after God, my wife, children and grandchildren) – Middle Eastern studies.”