Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel (Ephron)

Ephron is aware he could be tempted into “What if?” territory. What if Rabin hadn’t been assassinated? Would there have been peace between Israel and Palestine? Between Israel and other countries?

He tells a difficult story well, alternating between the progress of the Oslo accords and the evolution of Yigal Amir, Rabin’s assassin. Though the outcome is never in doubt, Ephron creates tension around all of the steps and missteps that led to Rabin’s death.

I’ve always had trouble reading too much about the Middle East. It can be so confusing, but Ephron writes clearly and doesn’t digress often. For the most part, he keeps his account pretty much bias-free.

The book is thoughtful and raises a lot of questions. For example, we want to consider Amir mentally ill? (And Ephron makes one remark to this effect – something about what might have caused him to become unhinged.) What if he wasn’t / isn’t? Certainly, there are people who are mentally ill, but what if we put others in that category simply because we can’t stomach the way they see the world? What if, in other words, Amir was / is completely sane?

I’m going to change the verb tenses , but Ephron asks the other question: “[C]an the country ever bridge the chasm between its pragmatists and messianists – between the people who view. . . Israel as a secular nation-state and those who [see] it as the realization of biblical prophecy?”

It seems that the US is not the only house divided.

A great and compelling book.


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