Award-winning journalist Dan Ephron in Westport Dec. 7

Dan Ephron

Dan Ephron

The 1995 murder of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin remains the single most consequential event in Israel’s recent history, and one that fundamentally altered the trajectory for both Israel and the Palestinians.

In his new book, Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel, veteran journalist and award-winning author Dan Ephron follows the parallel stories of Rabin and his stalker, Yigal Amir, over the two years leading up to the assassination, as one of them planned political deals he hoped would lead to peace, and the other plotted murder. The book was just hailed in the New York Times as “an electrifying political narrative twinned with an old-fashioned crime story.”

Ephron will share his insider’s perspective on Monday, Dec. 7 at Temple Israel in Westport.

A former Jerusalem bureau chief for Newsweek and the Daily Beast, Ephron reported from the Middle East for much of the past two decades, covering both the rally where Rabin was fatally shot and the subsequent murder trial.

Rabin, a former general who led the army in the Six Day War of 1967, embraced his nemesis, Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat, and set about trying to resolve the 20th century’s most vexing conflict. Rabin’s effort earned him admiration abroad and a Nobel Peace Prize. It made him a venerated figure in Bill Clinton’s White House. But in Israel, it deepened the rift between left and right and galvanized Jewish extremists on both sides, who undermined the peace process with ghastly violence.

Jewish extremist Yigal Amir was then a 25-year-old law student who believed that Rabin’s peace effort amounted to a betrayal of Israel and the Jewish people. The two would have a fatal meeting on Nov. 4, 1995. At a huge peace rally seen as a kind of referendum for Rabin’s path, Amir drew close to the 73-year-old Israeli leader and fired at him from behind, perpetrating what would prove to be one of the most successful political assassinations in modern times.

Based on Israeli police reports, interviews, confessions, and the cooperation of both Rabin’s and Amir’s families, much about Israel today comes into focus, from the paralysis in peacemaking to the fraught relationship between current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama.

Twenty years on, one can’t help but wonder what Israel and the Middle East would look like today, had Rabin lived.

“Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel” with author Dan Ephron: Monday, Dec. 7, 7:30 p.m., Temple Israel, 14 Coleytown Road, Westport. Books will be available for purchase and signing. Open to the community free of charge. Co-sponsored by Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County, The Westport Library, and the Jewish Book Council. Registration requested: [email protected] Information: 203-226-8197,  jewishphilanthropyct.org.

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