INCITEMENT – TIFF Film Reviews 2019
November 14, 2019

Israeli Production

Director: Yaron Zilberman

Co-writers: Yaron Zilberman and Daniella Kertesz

This film with its focus on the conditions underlying the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, also directs our attention to the current environment in Israel, a situation not unlike the one in 1995, according to the director, Yaron Zilberman.  Rabin’s daughter, who was in the audience when I saw the film, reinforced the concerns raised by the film of the on-going polarization within Israeli society.

We are introduced to Yigal Amir(Yehuda Nahari Halevi), a young right-wing, law student at Bar Ilan University, and to his family, his friends, his love interests.  The film highlights the forces and conditions of the society that enveloped Amir and others during those heady days when Rabin, along with Yasser Arafat, signed the Oslo Peace Accord at Camp David under the eye of President Bill Clinton.  While large numbers of Israeli and Palestinians supported the signing, other Israelis saw Rabin as a traitor, signing away parts of Israel that he had no right to give away.

When we meet Amir he is courting Nava (Daniella Kertesz), a young woman from a religious Ashkenazi settler family living in occupied West Bank.  Amir is presented as an earnest young man, not particularly interested in his legal studies, engulfed in a politically charged environment, who has been told by his mother (Anat Ravnitski) that he is destined to do something to save the nation one day.  His father (Amitai Yaish), a Torah scholar is a much more moderate influence, who endeavours to save Amir from being drawn into the vitriol that was being spewed out over Rabin’s signing of the Accord. 

Amir, and most of the people surrounding him, considered Rabin to be a traitor. Their anger and vitriol spill out on TV, from religious groups such as the National Religious Party and from elements of the Likud party including Benjamin Netanyahu, then running for political office.  At a political rally for Netanya, a photograph shows Rabin dressed as a Nazi officer while shouts of “traitor” and “kill him” rings out.  Netanyahu did nothing to stop the furor.

Amir attended events where rabbis drew upon obscure Jewish texts that justified the murder of a traitor.  Amir’s Torah scholar father tells Amir that only God can make this decision, not humans but Amir pays no heed.  Amir is shown attending the funeral of Baruch Goldstein who had slaughtered Muslim worshipers in 1994 at the Cave of the Patriarchs.  In these circles, Goldstein was depicted as a saint, a person Amir looked up to as someone to emulate.

Feeling the need to act, he endeavours to build a movement of young people to engage in violence, such as bombing mosques, and killing released prisoners who had been jailed for terrorism. This doesn’t go anywhere. The people he brings together, including Nava, his love interest, reject his efforts to further radicalize them. 

He then decides to act alone in order to kill Rabin.  We watch as he puts his plan in place, gathers munitions, and attends events where Rabin will be.  Ultimately, he outwits the security surrounding Rabin, pulling the trigger on November 4, 1995.  A couple of months later, Netanyahu becomes Prime Minister and all hope for the Oslo Peace Accord dies.

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