the assassination are obvious.
But there are also pitfalls, notes
Professor Daniel Bar-Tal, a po-
litical psychologist at Tel Aviv
University. "Naturally, Labor will
try to show that the murder was
not an historical 'accidental' per-
petrated by a crazed ideologist,
but the climax of a chain of events
set in motion by its opponents,"
he observes. "But if it tries to mo-
nopolize the tragedy, rather than
portraying it as a national
calamity, it may find this ap-
proach will backfire by alienat-
ing the public."
If moderation is the key to a
successful campaign in this
uniquely sensitive year, both
sides, the experts agree, are un-
likely to meet the challenge. Any-
one who expected that the mood
following the assassination —
when Israelis were suddenly
transformed into a patient, polite
nation of "flower children" —
would carry over until the elec-
tions was hopelessly romantic.
"The problems that existed be-
fore the assassination — the be-
liefs and behavior of the far right,
the tensions between the reli-
gious and secular populations,
the friction with the Palestinians
.— have not disappeared," despite
a moderation in the tone of de-
bate, says Professor Daniel Bar-
On, a psychologist at Ben-Gurion
University of the Negev.
Other observers take an even
bleaker view. "The campaign is
going to be particularly acrimo-
nious," predicts Mr. Ben-Eliezer.
Even more disturbing, Mr. Bar-
Tal ventures that it will be even
more "vicious and violent" than
the 1981 race. "The campaign
will dwell on images, rather than
issues. And that makes it partic-
ularly tempting for the candi-
dates to bad-mouth each other,"
which in Israel's rough-and-tum-
ble political tradition means
"tearing one another to bits."
The one consolation is that
"the name-calling would proba-
bly be worse if Rabin were run-
ning against Mr. Netanyahu,"
says Mr. Bar-On, "because that
was more of Rabin's style, where-
as Mr. Peres is concerned with
maintaining his image as a
statesman, and Mr. Netanyahu
will have to try to match it."
Mr. Peres will calibrate his im-
age carefully, knowing that in-
voking his relationship with
Rabin could be a double-edged
sword. "He will undoubtedly
want to play up his partnership
with Rabin," says Mr. Bar-Tal,
"while the Likud will probably
highlight the distinctions — and
particularly the long, bitter ri-
valry — between the two men."
One way or another, it's a bit
dismaying to realize that the
memory of Yitzhak Rabin and
the chilling event that ended his
life have already been reduced to
electoral "assets" and "liabilities"
to be manipulated by strategists,
copywriters and tricksters. ❑
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