JERUSALEM — Thirteen months before the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, an article predicting his death appeared in the newspaper Ma'ariv's Tel Aviv Friday supplement, Zman Tel Aviv.
The Sept. 30, 1994, article was written by Yaniv Friedman, now 30, a stand-up comedian with a serious bent.
Friedman, who ironically has been in Sweden for the past two months and was not here on the fateful night of November 4, wrote that Rabin would be killed in Tel Aviv on a Saturday after a successful meeting.
He indicated that Rabin's guards would be distracted and careless, and that the killer would come from a town in the Tel Aviv area and would not be a settler.
He wrote that the assassin would be slightly wounded and give himself up without resistance. He even hinted that the assassin would be a Yemenite.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post Tuesday, Friedman hinted that he knew about Yigal Amir and his intentions to kill Rabin when he wrote the article. He said the security forces also knew about Amir.
Friedman's assertion could be quickly dismissed as more fanciful or paranoic or politically motivated speculation, except for the uncanny similarity between what he wrote and what actually happened. Here are some excerpts:
"The Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, is about to wind up a successful meeting in his office [at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv] with the American emissary and enter his car. There are thousands of soldiers milling about, some of them armed.
"The bodyguards are leaning on their vehicles, bored. They hear the order in their earphones: the boss is coming. This happens while they are chatting with some of the women soldiers…While Sigalit [one of the imaginary soldiers] is stroking [the bodyguard's pistol], Rabin heads towards his car, waving hello. In the midst of all this, no one notices a soldier holding a loaded M-16. He stops and fires through the upper sight. Rabin collapses on the ground. Shock. Then chaos, noise, shouting."
"In the special television news broadcast, they show the assailant who was captured without resistance. He is lightly wounded. From a preliminary interrogation it emerges that the soldier was in the regular army, a corporal in the communications corps, secular, from Or Yehuda. A good soldier, with some disciplinary problems and a petty criminal background who admitted that indeed it was he `who killed the traitor."'
"After more than two hours of anxiety felt by the entire country, the surgeon…announces that this afternoon, at 15:10, Mr. Rabin died on the operating table."
"It doesn't have to be exactly like this," Friedman continued in his article. "There may be slight differences. But whoever thinks this scenario is just some American-type imaginary nightmare is simply wrong. Whoever thinks that after the Vietnam syndrome we experienced in Lebanon we cannot experience the first political assassination in Israel, is not aware of the facts. This week [the authorities] seized posters put out by The Sword of David calling for the murder of Rabin. More than a year ago, similar stickers were seized in Or Akiva."
Friedman's scenario was based on the negotiations over the Golan Heights rather than Judea and Samaria. He said he believed that because of his credibility, Rabin was the only Labor leader who could have convinced a majority of the Israeli population to withdraw from the Golan in return for a peace agreement with Syria. Therefore, his death would mean the collapse of the talks.
"Colleagues of mine in Sweden ask me how I could have written such an article, providing a blueprint for Rabin's assassination," said Friedman. "They don't understand. I was trying to issue a warning to give him better protection.
"The Israeli left, if it wants peace, must protect Rabin's life, immediately" wrote Friedman in his article. "They must demonstrate, identify with him and above all uproot the name `traitor' with which [his opponents] stubbornly brand him."