Assassination-conspiracy theorist sparks hostilities at Hebrew U.

JERUSALEM — 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.

Labor Knesset member Ra'anan Cohen had sent a letter to the university demanding the cancellation of the talk, but the school responded that while it had "reservations on the contents of the lecture," it could not, on legal advice, ban it.

The scene, reminiscent of U.S. campus protests of the 1960s, was not all violent. Most of the estimated 200 protesters demonstrated peacefully, holding candles and posters of Rabin.

One poster had a picture of Yigal Amir shooting Rabin, with the question: "A Shabak [Shin Bet domestic security] agent?" Another with Rabin's face said: "We will never forget: Who was killed/who did the killing."

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.

Hamish also argued that the Amir case echoed the assassination and alleged conspiracy surrounding the killing of John F. Kennedy.

"The difference is that the conspiracy to kill Rabin was very sloppy; the conspiracy to kill Kennedy was pretty good," said Hamish. "The Rabin conspiracy has so many loose ends — and they're undeniable."

Hamish said he felt like Mark Lane, who challenged the findings of the Warren Commission report saying there was a lone Kennedy assassin.