Fan club for killer of Rabin outrages modern Israelis

SHE sounds like many a teenage girl, obsessed with an athlete or a pap star. "I think he's gorgeous," she gushes

SHE sounds like many a teenage girl, obsessed with an athlete or a pap star. "I think he's gorgeous," she gushes. "He's intelligent. He's handsome. He's everything. He's a hero."

By now, she's giggling and short of breath. "I love him. He's got this broad smile, a sweet smile, so attractive. I've got his pictures on the walls of my bedroom, on the door".

But the object of this Israeli 17 year old's adulation is not the latest tennis or rock sensation, but Yigal Amir (26), the Orthodox Jewish law student who last November assassinated the Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and who is now serving a life sentence for his crime.

The girl is one of the founder members of the Yigal Amir Fan Club, a tiny admiration society headquartered in a religious high school in southern Israel. And Mrs Geula Amir, the assassin's mother, claims that, since the murder, he has received "hundreds upon hundreds" of admiring letters.


A television report on the fan club, in the development town of Kiryat Kat, triggered a wave of outrage this weekend. Journalists descended on the school, and emerged with reports of threatening graffiti on the walls, to the effect that Mr Shimon Peres, the late Mr Rabin's former partner in an assassin's bullet.

While psychologists can doubtless account for the fascination the undeniably good looking Amir may hold for a small group of pubescent teenagers, the hundreds of letters reported by the assassin's mother underline that, nine months after the murder, a good many Israelis still sympathise with the killer's motivation - which was to abort the peace process - and admire him for having taken the law into his own hands.

Mr Benjamin Netanyahu, the right wing leader who came to power in Israel in May, in elections brought forward because of the Rabin killing, pledged to "take care" of what he termed a "despicable" phenomenon.

Mr Rabin's widow, Leah, went further. She said the girls' idolisation of Amir underlined how wide and dangerous was the support base for his murderous actions. And she cited other examples of how her husband's murder was not being taken seriously - including the Knesset's failure to honour him with a minute's silence when reconvening after the elections, and the President's failure to even mention his name during an opening address to the parliament.