Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Why is there a monument to a war criminal on our campus?

A statue to Rabin is offensive to both Arab and Jewish students
Caroline O’Connor

“Force, might and beatings.”

This was the command that General (and former Prime Minister) Yitzhak Rabin gave his officers during the First Intifada—a mass wave of protests where Palestinians took to the streets to protest the well-equipped Israeli army as part of a wider resistance against their brutal subjugation.

Rabin made good on his word. At a 1988 election debate, he boasted about the widespread beatings and massacres that the Israeli Defense Forces carried out under his command.

“Two hundred and sixty Palestinians were killed in the last few months!” bragged Rabin to a cheering audience. “7,000 were wounded! 5,600 are currently in prison! Are these trivial numbers?”

It may sound obvious, but someone who so proudly boasts about military brutality—someone who goes by the ominous sobriquet of “Bone-Breaker”—has no business on a college campus.

Yet at the University of Massachusetts, off to the right of Bartlett Hall and facing the pathway toward the Du Bois library, sits a pretty maple tree. At its base lies a stone monument with the inscription: “In Memory of General Yitzhak Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel, 1922-1995.”

But it’s unclear why a monument to an Israeli politician with no known connections or formal ties to the school exists. The official UMass website contains a list of every monument on its campus, with a brief blurb that explains the individual’s connection to the University or the history of the monument. An explanation for the Rabin monument is curiously absent.

In the wake of last summer’s white nationalist organizing, the University launched a public relations campaign around the idea that “Hate Has No Home At UMass.” If UMass wishes to hold true to these words, then any monument to a man like Rabin should be immediately abolished.

The claim that UMass stands with its marginalized students, especially its Arab students, is preposterous so long as a monument to someone so proudly evil exists.

Despite the gushing claims of figures like Bill Clinton that he had a “vision for freedom, tolerance, cooperation, security and peace,” this same visionary once expressed his wish for Gaza to “sink into the sea.” The harsh reality is that Rabin’s violence could fill an entire book

The extent of his barbarity extends back to the State of Israel’s foundation. As a young officer, Rabin was part of discussions involving the extermination and expulsion of almost the entire Arab population of Lydda and Ramleh for the crime of being the wrong ethnicity in the nascent Jewish state. At the end of a brutal barrage of tanks and gunfire, around 250 Palestinians lay dead. Seventy thousand more were driven from their homes and stripped of their possessions.

Rabin, by his own admission, saw to it that his method of ethnic cleansing would have Palestinians “expelled quickly and without attention to age.” These refugees were not even given water, and hundreds more died of heat stroke and disease under the blazing sun.

And this set the tone for Rabin’s long career. Under Rabin’s supervision during the 1967 Six-Day War, around 1,000 Egyptian prisoners of war were killed en-masse by Israeli troops.

But perhaps the most absurd aspect of an American college hosting a Rabin monument is that not even Americans were spared from Rabin’s ire. Paranoid about potential American surveillance of the aforementioned Egyptian human rights abuses, as chief of the general staff, Rabin oversaw a missile strike against a U.S. Navy observation ship which killed 34 sailors and wounded many more.

Though his crimes against humanity are book-length, Rabin’s most enduring legacy remains the 1993 Oslo Accords—the diplomatic catastrophe that secured Rabin his reputation as a “visionary of peace.” Yet the actual mandate from these so-called “peace accords” stated that Israel would withdraw from some occupied areas and set up local Palestinian authorities to police their own communities—though Israel would still maintain control of these territories from a distance.

Even then, for acquiescing even the slightest bit to the Palestinian people, Rabin was assassinated by a far-right supporter of the expansionist “settler movement”—a predictable outgrowth of the Zionist project that claims Jews have exclusive land rights to “Judea and Samaria” (i.e. the West Bank). It speaks volumes about factions of Israeli society that a man known as “the Bone-Breaker” was considered too moderate. As Malcolm X once said in reaction to John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the chickens indeed came home to roost.

Although the motivation as to why UMass would commemorate such a man is unclear, the most likely mundane, subsidy-related explanation is more or less irrelevant.

What’s more important is to engage with what it means to have such a memorial on this campus. As a Jew, I find it repulsive that such an odious person could be used to represent me. If UMass wants to make it clear to marginalized students—both Jewish and Arab—that they are recognized as human beings worthy of protection, then a monument to Rabin cannot remain standing.

Nate Taskin can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @nate_taskin.

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  • B

    beer baronApr 23, 2018 at 7:22 pm

    The anti-Israel left is really starting to lose it.

  • J

    jMar 24, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    doesn’t get*

  • A

    A fellow JewMar 7, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    As a Jew on campus, I am disheartened to see an article like this that spreads false information and polarizes the small Jewish community here at UMass. Maybe do some real research before publishing your thoughts next time.
    The collegian should also be concerned that they are posting something that state “facts” which are not cited and in most cases are blatant lies.
    If you are reading this, look into the peace work PM Rabin did and think about all the reasons there should be a memorial to him on our campus.

    • N

      NITZAKHONMar 9, 2018 at 9:05 am

      Don’t feel bad.

      After President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the Collegian posted this weepy piece about how the Arabs felt, I posted a comment with over 20 footnotes. The Daily Collegian didn’t publish it.

      Information that goes counter to the multiculturalist narrative don’t get published by the Collegian.

  • N

    NITZAKHONMar 7, 2018 at 10:16 am

    What is it with most American Jews that they’re more interested in the feelings and interests of those who want them dead, than in helping their own people?

    You DO realize that the “Palestinians” who chant “From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” are speaking of a destroyed Israel? You DO realize that they’ve been offered peace many times, but have rejected it? You DO realize that the Koran itself talks about the destruction of the Jews in the end times?

    We (I am a Jew) are faced with a people whose end goal is our utter destruction. Just what part of that is not clear?

    Palestinians: Israel is One Big Settlement

    Quote: “What is really bothering the Palestinians is that Israel, with Jews, exists, period.”

  • R

    RMar 6, 2018 at 11:37 pm

    you do know who Amherst is named after and what he did, right?

  • H

    HarrisonMar 6, 2018 at 5:38 pm

    I mean there’s no real reason to have a Rabin monument here aside from the fact that it’s already here. Removing it would be picking a side in the conflict so good luck pushing the administration on that.

    The history you’ve given provides as much nuance as I would expect from someone who thinks the Oslo accords were in 1991.

    • D

      dkMar 7, 2018 at 3:21 am

      Sorry, the nuance in ethnic cleansing you’re trying to allude to is…?

  • J

    Jewish StudentMar 6, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    As a fellow Jewish student on campus, I completely agree with Nate! Thank you for writing this fantastic op-ed, UMass should not have memorials to war criminals on campus.