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Hebrew University criticized for lecture on Rabin murder

JERUSALEM, April 3 (JTA) — Demonstrators scuffled this week with Hebrew University of Jerusalem security guards outside an auditorium where a lecture on the “Rabin murder conspiracy” was being presented. Protesters prevented people from entering the hall to hear the speaker, who claimed that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by Israeli agents. The speaker, Barry Hamish, addressed a nearly empty hall, leaving two hours later surrounded by security guards. Reports that the university had decided to provide funding for the lecture sparked a sharp outcry. University officials rebuffed criticism of their decision to hold the lecture, citing freedom of speech. Hamish, who says he writes for foreign news organizations abroad, maintains that the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, was involved in a conspiracy to carry out the Nov. 4, 1995, assassination. He bases his theory on discrepancies in testimony given by police regarding the range from which Rabin was shot. During the lecture, which was heard by a handful of journalists, Hamish showed the amateur video that was taken of the assassination. The speaker maintained that the prime minister’s bodyguard, who was wounded in the shooting, and his personal driver, were also in on the plot. Throughout the lecture, angry protests took place outside the closed doors. The demonstrators prevented about two dozen students from entering the auditorium. In the past, the Shin Bet’s VIP protection unit filed a complaint with Israel’s Government Press Office, saying that Hamish had used his press card to gain entry to one of Rabin’s public appearances, and then waved an anti-Rabin sign from the audience.