ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Holt/Metropolitan, 115 W. 18th St., New York, NY 10011.
CAREER: Former editor-in-chief of Israeli television news program Mabat; editor and anchor of Second Look television program. Director of documentary films, including The Road to Rabin Square, 1997, and A Bomb in the Basement: Israel's Nuclear Option, 2001.
Gilgulim ba-sheleg, Domino (Jerusalem, Israel), 1983.
Resimot mi-Kikar Pushkin, Yedi'ot aharonot (Tel-Aviv, Israel), 1993.
SIDELIGHTS: Michael Karpin is an Israeli journalist who collaborated with Ina Friedman to write Murder in the Name of God: The Plot to Kill Yitzhak Rabin, an account of the 1995 assassination of the Israeli prime minister. The authors describe the crime, analyze the political-religious conflicts that motivated the killer, and suggest that the man who pulled the trigger may have been sanctioned to do so by the religious right. Describing the political climate in Israel, Karpin and Friedman portray a country sharply divided between Orthodox Zionists and Zionists who are non-religious and democratic. Rabin's participation in the 1993 Oslo peace agreement, which turned some land over to the Palestinians, marked him as a traitor by those who believed that modern Israel must encompass the entire biblical extent of Israel. According to Karpin and Friedman, right-wing groups tolerated actions of extremists, and their rabbis cited biblical support for killings in the name of religion. Murder in the Name of God dismisses the notion that Rabin was responsible for his own death, or that the blame rested with Rabin's right-hand man, Shimon Peres. The authors criticize left-wing factions for their failure to condemn radical rabbis, and the security force that was to have protected Rabin is also subjected to negative comment. Rabin was shot by a twenty-five-year-old law student, an Orthodox Jew named Yigal Amir. While it is generally reported that he acted alone in shooting Rabin, the authors suggest that Amir was only one member of a conservative faction that sanctioned killing for religious reasons.
Murder in the Name of God is "not only a chilling profile of the murderer but also an expose of the right-wing zealotry that created him," according to a reviewer for Publishers Weekly. The authors achieve "significant success" in their attempt to "describe the social, religious, and political background against which the murder took place," stated David B. Green in a Mediterranean review. The book was also highly recommended by Guilain Denoeux in Middle East Policy, both for the way it "skillfully pieces together information about key participants" and for its success in offering "a unique look into the world of Jewish religious messianism and ultranationalist extremism in both Israel and the United States." Karpin further explored Rabin's assassination in a controversial documentary, The Road to Rabin Square. It shows the climate of hatred that built up in the years preceding Rabin's assassination, including footage of demonstrators carrying posters with bulls-eyes over Rabin's face. Karpin interviewed the assassin and his family, as well.
Karpin is also the director of the film A Bomb in the Basement: Israel's Nuclear Option, which investigates the development and probable extent of Israel's nuclear-weapons program. According to Karpin, Shimon Peres forged ties with the French in the 1950s on the strength of their shared fear of North African nationalist movements. This led to French cooperation in helping Israel to obtain what was needed to start a nuclear-weapons program. Extreme secrecy about nuclear capabilities has long been a hallmark of the Israeli government, but censors allowed Karpin's film to be released despite its candor. Karpin was quoted in the Boston Globe as saying that perhaps this was due to his timing; terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City had happened only days before. "It could be that after September 11 they decided that perhaps the time has come to reveal a little bit more about the Israeli nuclear project," he said. "But this is only my speculation."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 1998, Mary Carroll, review of Murder in the Name of God: The Plot to Kill Yitzhak Rabin, p. 3.
Boston Globe, November 11, 2001, Dan Ephron, review of A Bomb in the Basement.
Guardian (Manchester, England), April 17, 1999, Colin Shindler, review of Murder in the Name of God, p. 9.
Issues of the American Council for Judaism, spring, 1999, Allan C. Brownfeld, review of Murder in the Name of God.
Library Journal, September 15, 1998, Sanford R. Silverburg, review of Murder in the Name of God, p. 98.
Mediterranean, January 10, 1999, David B. Green, "A Political Act."
Middle East Policy, June, 1999, Guilain Denoeux, review of Murder in the Name of God, p. 203.
New Statesman, March 5, 1996, Tim Franks, review of Murder in the Name of God, p. 54.
New York Jewish Week, May 16, 1997, Larry Derfner, review of A Bomb in the Basement, p. 49.
Publishers Weekly, October 26, 1998, review of Murder in the Name of God, p. 49.
San Francisco Chronicle, November 22, 1998, review of Murder in the Name of God, p. 3.
Washington Monthly, December, 1998, Joshua A. Brook, review of Murder in the Name of God, p. 40.