A recent survey conducted by Yediot Aharonot, a newspaper known for some sensationalism but by no means a tabloid, shows that almost a third of Israel’s population believes Yitzhak Rabin’s murderer, Yigal Amir, should be pardoned. The breakdown shows greater support among those affiliated with Israel’s political Right, and especially among those who identify themselves as “religious.”

According to the poll data – five percent of the Israeli public supports pardoning the killer already at this point in time, while 25 percent believes that he should be pardoned in 25 years from now. Some 69 percent of respondents replied that they oppose a future pardoning. This marks a significant change compared to a similar poll conducted last year by the newspaper. Figures in 2005 showed that 76 percent of Israelis opposed any pardoning, while 18 percent believed the killer should be set free.

Among respondents defining themselves as right-wing, 54 percent support a pardoning, with 47 percent setting the pardon in 25 years. Among respondents defining themselves as religious the numbers jump again – 64 percent support a pardoning: 50 percent in 25 years and 14 percent today.

On the left only one percent of those polled believes that a pardon should be granted today. 12 percent support a pardoning in 25 years.

Participants were also polled about vacations for the Prime Minister’s killer. Twenty percent of the public believes that Amir should be granted vacations from prison, while 78 percent opposed. Questions were also put in the field regarding the hotly debated issue of conjugal visits – 38 percent of respondents agreed that Amir should be allowed conjugal visits with his wife, Larissa Trimbobler, 56 percent oppose such visits.

This is disappointing to say the least. Somebody at Israel’s police headquarters must have been paying attention, though, because the police have now released an interrogation tape conducted with Amir near the time of the murder.

“I decided to kill [former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin] and I do not regret it,” Rabin’s assassin Yigal Amir was heard telling police in a tape of his interrogation released for the first time Monday.

“I approached him before he got into his car and shot him with three bullets,” Amir calmly told his interrogators.

When Amir was asked if he regretted what he did, the assassin responded: “God forbid.”

“My aim was to kill Rabin and silence him politically,” he told police.

When Amir was asked when he decided on the idea, he said: “after the first Oslo agreement.”

This man has been permitted conjugal visits with a woman who married him after he was incarcerated. He has fathered a child and demanded to be allowed to attend the child’s brit millah (circumcision). He is the beneficiary of sordid conspiracy theories where he is claimed to be nothing more than a falsely accused victim of an Israeli government plot to kill Rabin. He receives regular media attention and apparently has a growing group of supporters who believe that what he did was bad, but deserves some limitation of punishment even if Amir has not expressed the smallest regret for his actions.

Amir, a Jew, murdered another man. He has not atoned in any way and continues to proudly express views from an ideology that justifies this murder on nationalistic and perhaps even religious grounds. There is no hint that he is or was insane, brainwashed, or anything but a cold, calculating murderer who did what he did for political gain.

He deserves to rot in jail for the remainder of his life, without any conjugal visits, and rare visits from his son who should not be punished for his father’s sin. Those who support him or who give him cover by shifting the blame to others, should read his chilling words from that interview and remember that he murdered another man in cold blood.

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