Religiously-Motivated Murder: Rodef and the Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
Mark. C. Alexander
Seton Hall University - School of Law
Arizona Law Review, Vol. 39, No. 4 (1997).
The article discusses attempts by religiously-motivated assassins to justify their actions by arguing that they acted in defense of others. It starts with the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by Yigal Amir. Amir argued that, in killing Rabin, he acted in defense of Israeli Jews who were endangered by Rabin's actions in furtherance of the Middle East peace process. The article then examines Amir's place in the current debate over the Middle East peace process. While many were equally concerned with Rabin's policies, Amir separated himself by taking the step of killing the Prime Minister, which set him apart from even the extremists. Amir tried to justify his actions by claiming the rodef defense -- that is, by saying that Rabin was setting the nation on a course doomed to destroy Israeli Jews, and that it was Amir's duty to kill Rabin before more Jewish blood was shed. The article explores the roots of this defense in Judaism, then its current application in Israeli secular law. Turning back to the United States, the article then looks at the American counterpart, the defense of others justification. During this Part, the article compares the Jewish and Israeli approaches with various American legal sources -- the Model Penal Code, state statutes, and case law. This discussion closes with a comparison between Amir and those Americans who shoot doctors who perform abortions. Similar legal arguments are raised in their defense, and the article explains why these arguments do not and should not succeed.
JEL Classification: K14Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: September 17, 1997
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