Kennedy Felt "Connection" with Rabin Assassination

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:07pm EDT

Jerusalem (CNS) - Many Americans and others around the world have different reasons to mourn John F. Kennedy Jr. For one Israeli mother, it was the chance he offered her to fight to clear the name of her son, convicted of the most shocking crime in Israel's modern history.

There is a world of difference between Kennedy and Guela Amir, but each is closely and painfully linked to an assassination of two of the century's leading political figures.

With Kennedy's death at the weekend, Amir lost arguably the most prominent and influential believer in the possibility there was a conspiracy behind the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, an act for which her son, Yigal, has been jailed for life.

In 1997, Guela Amir offered Kennedy's political publication George, a lengthy article alleging that Yigal was induced to shoot Rabin at a Tel Aviv peace rally by an agent provocateur working for Israel's domestic intelligence agency, the General Security Service.

Kennedy took a deep personal interest in the story, recalls Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, a Tel Aviv lawyer representing the Amir family.

"He called me several times, and said he personally felt a type of connection because of his father's case," she told

"Because of the passage of time since his father's assassination, he said the family could not resolve the questions surrounding it. He encouraged the Amir family to look further into the Rabin case, as quickly as possible, to see if there was possibly [something amiss]."

Darshan-Leitner said Kennedy maintained his objectivity, "but he said if there is this version, and if the facts checked out, then it should have a platform."

Kennedy sent staff and legal advisors who checked and re-checked every fact in the report, ensuring they were corroborated by official statements, court records, and documents from the Israeli government commission appointed to investigate the murder.

Three months later, after small negotiated edits to shorten the story, and despite several appeals by Israeli foreign ministry officials not to do so, Kennedy ran a 13-page article in the March 1997 edition of George, Darshan-Leitner said.

The decision to publish met some criticism in Israel, notably from Rabin's widow, Leah, who called it "a sensational piece to sell his paper."

But it also triggered a campaign among some Israelis who demanded the government investigate the alleged involvement of the GSS. Early this year, GSS agent Avishai Raviv was indicted for failing to stop the assassination.

"Due to the publishing of the article, the conspiracy theory got another hearing. People started to treat it more seriously."

Darshan-Leitner said she had kept Kennedy up to date since then about major developments, sending him reports and media clippings.

Guela Amir had been shocked and sorry to hear about the airplane crash. "He was the first one who agreed to give her a stage - a very important stage - for her to [air] her suspicions. She felt he had been very brave to publish it."

Asked her own views about the conspiracy allegation, the lawyer said it was an "extraordinary theory, but when you read the article, it makes sense. It sounds crazy, but it might be true."

Barry Chamish, an Israeli investigative journalist who has published a book alleging a conspiracy and cover-up in the Rabin assassination said Wednesday there was "no doubt where George magazine's sympathies lie in the 13-page article."

"John Kennedy Jr. went to bat for Yigal Amir, presenting a very strong case that he was a victim of the Israeli secret services, the Shabak," he told, referring to the GSS by its Hebrew acronym.

"He allowed, and I'm certain triple-checked, a long series of incidents, encounters, testimonies and indisputable facts which, when added up, painted a picture of a Shabak running amok, setting up numerous sting operations to incriminate legitimate opponents of the Oslo Accords.

"The ultimate sting was the Rabin assassination."

Chamish said Kennedy should be remembered as a hero of the Israeli people "for daring to print the truth it seems no one in the American media wants to hear."

Last April, GSS agent Raviv was indicted after a long campaign by lawmakers and other Israelis eager to get to the truth behind Rabin's murder.

Raviv was charged with failing to stop the assassination and with membership of a terrorist organization.

He is accused of creating a far-right fringe group called Eyal, violently opposed to the Oslo Accords. The apparent intention was to flush out radicals, but instead he allegedly encouraged extreme activities, in the process smearing the entire nationalist movement, including then Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu.

He befriended student Yigal Amir, but failed to report to his handlers that Amir had threatened to kill Rabin.

Numerous theories have circulated in Israel since 1995. The most commonly-held view is that Amir, acting alone but perhaps egged on by other extremist friends, was guilty of killing a prime minister whose peace policies they rejected.

Another theory is that Raviv incited Amir to target Rabin to discredit Israeli conservatives, but that measures to then prevent the shooting failed for some reason. A few go further, believing in a conspiracy going to the top of the Israeli chain of command.

Chamish, for example, has carried out an energetic campaign of questioning publicly the official version of the killing. He says medical evidence shows that Rabin was shot in the chest at point-blank range - not in the back from some distance as asserted in unclassified government reports.

While the city of Dallas, Texas, where Kennedy was shot has its "grassy knoll," from which some believe a second gunman fired upon the president in 1963, Israel has the "closing door" theory raising questions about the murder of Rabin. Video footage seems to show a heavy rear door of Rabin's car being pulled shut from the inside just before Rabin was pushed by security agents seconds after the shooting, even though the back of the vehicle was supposedly empty.

While not expressing support for the various conspiracy theories, several ministers in the Netanyahu government called for an official inquiry into the claims, which former Prime Minister Shimon Peres dismissed as a "blood libel."

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