The Rabin File
by Gad Nahshon
"I do hereby declare that I bear no hatred toward Rabin and that my feelings toward him are no different from those I bear toward a baboon or a laboratory mouse," wrote the famous Israeli revisionist military historian Dr, Uri Milstein, from the headquarters of his organization "Machon Shridut" or "Survival Institute" in Ramat Efal, a small town near Ramat Gan. This declaration is to be found in his new book in English (Gefen, publisher, Jerusalem and New York, 1999), The Rabin File: An Unauthorized Expose.
It is not just one more book on the late Itshaq Rabin, who was assassinated in Nov. 1995 in Tel Aviv by the murderer Yigal Amir. Rabin was, and is going to be, a legend. Recently, many Americans, including President Clinton, were mobilized into a huge project in Israel, the building of a "Rabin Center" so that his legacy and heritage will not die in our national collective memory.
Dr. Milstein, an expert on Israel's military history, has published many books. In the USA, many are familiar with his three volume history of the Israeli War of Independence (University Press of America, Lanham, New York, Oxford). Dr. Milstein is a pioneer revisionist historian but he is not a post-Zionist historian. Many of his theses and notions turned out to be the truth. He believes that 'God is in the ?" He is, first of all, a behaviorist who discusses the issues of war. But he is also known to be an unemotional servant of the facts and truths. He views himself as an objective historian who often tells people the terrible truth which they refuse to listen to. He is often very provocative. And he likes to cut the throat, pitiless, of myth or 'Holy Cows'. And he is willing to pay the price of being a maverick historian.
This book was written in Hebrew and was published by "Shridut" only a few months before the assassination of Rabin. Rabin was murdered by Yigal Amir who, probably, read this book. Of course, Amir's idea of a murder of a prime minister, a terrible crime which calls for the death penalty, (Amir was punished with 'life') came from his personal sick convictions.
Dr. Milstein views himself just as a scientist who researches myths in his laboratory. In the past he has tried to dismantle the myth of the famous 'Palmach'. Milstein is not afraid to confront the Israeli defense-military establishment when he is searching the truth, the historical evidence. Perhaps he would like to be a sort of new martyr!
The bottom line of the Rabin File is very shocking: Rabin, Israel's 'Mr. Security', 'Exalted Generalissimo', 'Rabin the Great Military Leader' was a fake. Rabin's records in the battles is very poor. There is no foundation to Rabin's legend or myth. But the Rabin File is based on the 1948 War of Independence. Dr. Milstein pointed out Rabin's failures in the battles, especially of the 'Jerusalem Front.'
The climax of Rabin's poor record is chapter seven: "Yitzhak Rabin, the Brigade Commander, Flees the Battlefield." Rabin, according to Dr. Milstein, should have never advanced up the military ladder. He became a general and a Chief of Staff because David Ben-Gurion, politically, needed him. Rabin's career was a political one rather than a military one.
When the book was published in Israel, Dr. Milstein was 'attacked' by many people: "How dare you to smear Rabin!" many claimed that Dr. Milstein just had an agenda and that he just put 'contract' on Rabin who, then, was still alive. Dr. Milstein was, or course, ex-communicated by many people and official bodies. Dr. Milstein often tended to exaggerate using very strong words. He also ignored the facts, for example, that in 1948 Rabin was only 25 years old. Indeed, many people might view this book as a piece of anti-Rabin 'smear tactics.' Rabin was, first of all, a commander of the Palmach, a symbol of this young generation of 1948, a generation of heroism. But Dr. Milstein views the Palmach, as a fabricated myth, "The Palmach Myth."
You might argue that Milstein's expose of Rabin is originated in his expose of the 'Palmach'. Dr. Milstein has no emotions or moral commitments to the Israeli establishment. He believes in his objective neutral approach to military history. We must say that even in the Rabin File, he did not try to ignore his critics such as on page 221, he quoted his 'enemy' Dr. Mair Paril: "Milstein's statement 'Rabin Fled' is mud slinging" and on page 222 he quoted the head of the Haganah's Intelligence Service in Jerusalem, Yitzhak Levi, who wrote in his book Nine Measures, Milstein is motivated by hate and desire to hurt Rabin when he attacks him for daring, on his own, to break through the curtain of fire…". But Dr. Milstein still believes that Rabin fled from the battlefield in the Jerusalem front. On page 222 Milstein wrote: "I described Rabin's performance during the battle of April 20, 1948.
I maintain that he ran from the battlefield and abandoned his units and did not return to them with reinforcements…" In this English version Milstein also introduced Mr. Rabin as "The Altalena Murderer". Rabin was sent to fight against the Irgun's people during the confrontation which took place on Tel Aviv beach, June 22, 1948. Ben-Gurion called Palmach and Hagana to help the new government. Rabin was over there but he had to carry orders from Ben-Gurion, Igal Alon, Igal Yadin and others. It was a tragedy, almost caused a civil war. Ben-Gurion made a big mistake. Of course, there were soldiers who refused to shoot on the Irgun's people.
Rabin File is not an easy book to read. Milstein has argued that he does not have an agenda. He has a style of research and a style of writing that many do not like. But Milstein is honest with himself. He is dedicated to finding and exposing the history's truth.
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