October 23, 2018

Let All Israelis Honor Yitzhak Rabin

“A little over a month from now, Israel will mark the anniversary of the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, may he rest in peace. Will Rabin’s assassination also be forgotten in the country’s public life as the years pass?

In the 23 years since that terrible murder, various people, including some in politics, have tried to find a way to memorialize Rabin, but they haven’t been very successful. The divisions, as usual, are over how he should be memorialized – in a statesmanlike, unifying manner or a political, divisive one.

Last week, Channel 20 television reported that the chairman of the Zionist Union party, Avi Gabbay, had decided that this year’s memorial event should be a political one. According to the report, Gabbay even decided that no rightists, no opponents of Rabin’s political path, should speak at the event.

Is this the right way to memorialize Yitzhak Rabin? Rabin was chairman of the Labor Party and a product of the Labor Zionist movement, but we mustn’t forget that he was also a prime minister who sought to represent all Israelis. When he signed the controversial Oslo Accords, he did so in the settlers’ name as well.

Last year’s memorial event, which took place in Rabin Square in the heart of Tel Aviv, included a representative of the settlers, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel. He felt comfortable enough to come because last year’s event was meant to include all parts of the nation, even the settlers. But Gabbay’s decision to bar rightists from speaking will lead whole swaths of the public to shun this year’s event because it has turned from a statesmanlike, unifying event into a political rally.”

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