September 3, 2020  (Web Review)


Kino Lorber, 123 min., in Hebrew w/English subtitles, not rated, DVD: $19.99, May 26

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Incitement is a serious drama that takes its title from the political and religious influences leading up to the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. Director Yaron Zilberman communicates the true story from the point of view of the assassin Yigal Amir (Yehuda Nahari Halevi) and creatively weaves archival footage with acted out scenes. When Yigal Amir is introduced, he seems a charming persuasive young man who is attending law school at Bar-llan University in Tel Aviv, has many friends and is a devoted Orthodox Jew. Soon it becomes clear, Yigal thinks highly of himself and can be persuaded by events and by others. After Prime Minister Rabin announces the Oslo Accords in 1993 for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, Yigal is opposed to Israel ceding land to the Palestinians and admires a cleric Baruch Goldstein who later slays 29 Palestinian Muslims worshipping in the West Bank. At the cleric’s funeral, Yigal finds other anti-Rabin supporters.

Other factors contribute to Yigal’s radicalization. Yigal’s girlfriend tells him she doesn’t want to marry him and this rejection further pushes Yigal toward bitterness and fanaticism; Yigal becomes convinced Rabin must be killed. Yigal seeks out words in the Torah and finds selective passages about informers called Law of the Pursuer. He comes to believe it is okay to kill an informer and even seeks religious opinions and quiet support for his radical thinking. Believing Rabin has become an informer, Yigal gains help from his closest friends to find weapons and plan an assassination attack. Having served in the military, Yigal is well trained for carrying out his plan. After the second Oslo Peace Accords, Yigal attends a rally and listens to the sharply critical language of Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the opposition Likud party, and this further inflames his belief that Rabin betrayed Israel. With a semi-automatic gun loaded with hollow-point bullets, Yigal waits for Rabin to conclude his political rally and shoots him as he approaches the car. Without music, this film puts all the emphasis on the narrative and makes a frightening point that individuals can be incited to extremism and violence through religious and political language. Recommended. (T. Root)