Memorial Candle for late PM Yitzhak Rabin.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Left-wing politicians railed on Wednesday against the message of this Saturday night’s memorial rally for former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Debate over the nature of the memorial comes up nearly every year. This time, criticism was focused on the fact that the promotional materials for the event in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square did not mention the 1995 assassination, and that there are residents of the West Bank among the speakers.
The event, titled “We Remember: We are One People,” was organized by Commanders for Israel’s Security and Darkenu, formerly known as V15, which campaigned for alternative candidates to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) addressed the issue at the Knesset’s Rabin memorial meeting Wednesday.
“Rabin was murdered in a clearly political assassination. The vile murderer didn’t hide it when he talked about it before and after the murder. He wanted to eliminate the leader of Israel from the way [Rabin] was democratically leading the nation,” Herzog said.
“We cannot deny or hide it,” he added, listing and criticizing the tone of some of the major rallies against the Oslo Accords.
Esther Brot, who was evacuated from her home in the settlement of Ofra earlier this year, is planning to speak at the rally Saturday night.
In an interview Wednesday morning on Israel Radio, she sparked more controversy by saying that, ahead of Rabin’s murder, there was “incitement on both sides.” She also mentioned that Rabin had called settlers “a cancer in the body of the nation.”
Zionist Union MK Amir Peretz called for people to come to the talk “in order not to let anyone blur the meaning of political murder...
I have no intention to forget or forgive. That night, a prime minister was murdered. That night, many values were murdered, of fighting violence, incitement, fighting for coexistence and for peace with our neighbors.”
Peretz added that he will not accept the idea that there are extremists on both sides of the political spectrum.
“Israeli society needs to heal, but... denial and forgetting is not our way,” he stated.
Meretz put out a statement criticizing Brot and calling on the rally’s organizers to disinvite her.
“Stop supporting the infuriating attempt to rewrite history,” the Meretz statement said.
“Rabin was a man of the Left and the peace camp, and he was murdered as a result of direct incitement from only one side.”
MK Eitan Broshi of Zionist Union, who was Rabin’s adviser on agricultural settlement, took the middle ground, saying he finds it “strange that those who want peace and are willing to speak to our enemies are not able to accept a speech by the mayor of Efrat at the rally in memory of Rabin.”
“We can’t ignore the murder itself, which was political, or the right-wing incitement before it, but we need to mend the tears in Israeli society.
Whoever wants to talk about changes in Judea and Samaria for a [peace] agreement, but isn’t able to hear people from there speak in the center of Tel Aviv should think again,” he stated.
Some Likud MKs, like Yehudah Glick, said they may go to the event because of its theme of unity.
“For 21 years I didn’t go, because I felt the organizers didn’t want me. In the last week, I spoke with the organizers, left-wing people and [Rabin’s daughter] Dalia Rabin, and I was convinced beyond any doubt that it’s different this time... I might go in a Likud shirt. I want to believe that this year people can come in Meretz and Likud shirts,” he told Radio 101.5 FM.
In an interview with Galei Israel Radio,Likud MK Yoav Kisch also said he would consider going, since it’s “not a public relations rally for left-wing organizations” and is planned to be “a rally of bringing people closer and the unity of the people of Israel.”
Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, of Bayit Yehudi, told Galei Israel Radio that he is “concerned the speakers will forget the message of unity that was discussed, and it will turn into a left-wing rally against the Right.
“I’m debating whether to go or not, and will decide in the coming days,” Ariel said.