Opinion

I lived in Israel when the prime minister was assassinated. Donald Trump's 'joke' terrifies me.

It didn't take most Israelis to assassinate Yitzhak Rabin. It didn't take thousands, or even a few dozen. It took one guy.

On November 4, 1995, the prime minister of Israel — my prime minister, one for whom I, a dual American-Israeli citizen, had canvassed and voted — stood before a sea of supporters and with an uncharacteristic smile and his famously awful voice, sang a song of peace. A few moments later he said his goodbyes, jogged down a short flight of stairs, and was shot dead.

It didn't take most Israelis to assassinate Yitzhak Rabin. It didn't take thousands, or even a few dozen. It took one guy.

One guy who'd heard again and again that Rabin was the embodiment of evil, that he was the second coming of the Holocaust, that ancient curses should and could be revived and rained down upon his head to hasten a divinely mandated death; one guy who a month earlier had seen Benjamin Netanyahu, the then-opposition leader, acquiesce a crowd of protesters as they jostled and roiled and brayed for blood. To this day, Netanyahu denies he saw anything untoward in that mob, denies any culpability in the incitement that led to the murder of the man he'd declared a threat to the state's very existence.

Comparisons across continents, decades, and cultures are problematic. The lax security that flanked Rabin that night was nothing like what surrounds Hillary Clinton today, for instance, and in 1995 there was a very specific policy, the Oslo Peace Accords, at stake.

But as meaningful as such differences are, they don't matter much on the ground. Those who revel in calling Clinton a "bitch," who chant "lock her up!" or accuse her of treason aren't pondering the enormity of the lies they're fed. The protestations of Democrats and RINOs don't give them pause — Trump supporters know they know something I don't.

The election is already rigged; Hillary is Crooked; the country is being stolen from beneath their feet. Their freedom and possibly their lives depend on defeating her and all who support her; drastic steps aren't just justified, they're called for. This bitch wants to continue the Kenyan usurper's work? Hell. No.

As starkly horrifying as they were, Trump's "Second Amendment" comments — in which he said "the Second Amendment people" might be able to stop Clinton and "her judges," in a remark widely understood as inciting violence, an interpretation he denies — were not particularly new. He and his supporters have called for and threatened violence for months, a plain fact that both his campaign and the GOP have consistently and brazenly dismissed.

I've been here before. I watched the rallies unfold in 1995. I saw the loathing in people's eyes and their frenzied anger. And then I saw one guy take the message to its logical conclusion. I watched the vigil outside the hospital, I watched the funeral, and I watched as my country wept and mourned, denounced and recriminated, ultimately following the path that Netanyahu and those protesters had called for, rendering the peace accords effectively null. Netanyahu's party, the Likud, refused (with a few notable exceptions) to accept any responsibility; the assassin believed he'd answered the call.

I believe that where Israeli security failed, the Secret Service will succeed — just as President Obama has been kept safe, I believe (I hope, I pray) that Clinton will be too. But here's another, more important difference between Israel and the United States: America is awash with guns.

Hillary Clinton is not and has never been the extreme right's only target. Abortion provider George Tiller was murdered in 2009 by a domestic terrorist motivated by anti-abortion hate speech. Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) was shot and nearly died in 2011 after being featured on Sarah Palin's "target list"; a 9-year-old was among the six people killed that day. Just eight months ago, three people were murdered at a Planned Parenthood office by a man convinced he was avenging dead babies.

Clinton was materially endangered by Trump, but so were untold other Americans. As David S. Cohen wrote for Rolling Stone, Trump issued a dog-whistle "knowing that some dog will hear it, even though he doesn't know which dog" — or where, or when.

I've never recovered from Rabin's murder. It's shaped my engagement with politics more than any other single event in history — in part because it forces me to remember that there are no "single events" in history.

It only took one guy to kill Yitzhak Rabin, but that one guy didn't live in a vacuum. For months and years, Yigal Amir had been breathing a miasma of contempt and execration, odium and intimidation, all of which was aided, abetted, fomented, and forgiven by those who led his movement.

I've already said that this election has me living in fear; today, I'm more afraid than ever.

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