Rabin memorial canceled over groups' dispute
Bnei Akiva branch expresses anger at secretary-general’s scheduled attendance at memorial.
Peres stands by commemorative poster for Rabin Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post
An annual memorial event commemorating slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin has
been canceled following a disagreement between two youth groups on the theme of
the ceremony, Army Radio reported on Thursday.
The Fourth of November NGO decided to cancel their November 3 event.
event was meant to focus on traditional messages of peace and non-violence,
while an October 27 event in Rabin Square by youth group Dror Israel will
reportedly address “price tag” incidents and racist comments made by
The yearly ceremony is held in memory of former prime minister
Yitzhak Rabin, shot by Yigal Amir while taking part in a peace rally on November
Members of the Bnei Akiva national-religious youth movement have
hit out at the organization’s secretary general Danny Hershberg for agreeing to
attend and speak at the October 27 ceremony for Rabin.
In a letter to
Hershberg, head of the Bnei Akiva branch in the settlement of Itamar, Pinchas
Michaeli wrote of “the deep shock and sadness” councillors and members of the
movement felt when hearing of Hershberg’s decision to attend.
Rabin as prime minister worked, advanced and strove to create an Arab entity
which works tirelessly to destroy the State of Israel,” Michaeli
“The guns Yitzhak Rabin gave to the Arabs were and are used for
murderous campaigns among Jewish residents of the State of Israel.
is no place whatsoever, even out of a desire to feel part of the Jewish people,
to take part in a ceremony where they glorify the name, work and legacy of
someone who left only one legacy: national defeatism and the sacrifice of the
‘victims of peace’ on the altar of Oslo.”
Michaeli called on Hershberg
not to attend the ceremony and to “represent the members of his movement
proudly” without bowing to the agenda of “radical leftists.”
also pointed out that “20 Itamar residents have been murdered since the signing
of the Oslo accords” and added that Yoav Fogel, murdered along with his parents
and two siblings in Itamar in March 2011, was a member of the settlement’s Bnei
Hershberg wrote in response that the ceremony will not
focus on glorifying either Rabin or his legacy.
“The reason for the
ceremony is [Rabin’s] murder, but the topic is how to manage dispute within
society, along with an unequivocal call to struggle for the preservation of
democracy,” Hershberg said.
He added that his attendance at the ceremony
was not a form of “groveling,” as asserted in Michaeli’s letter, and that “we do
not feel guilty for the murder of the prime minister, we feel pain..., we feel
the obligation to spread the notion in Israeli society that dispute can be
clarified through mutual discourse.”
“My going to Kikar [Rabin] expresses
the desire to unite, to talk,” he added. Hershberg also said that he had sent
the letter from the Itamar Bnei Akiva to all branches around the country in
order to create a discussion on the issue.
Hershberg has received support
from several prominent national-religious figures including Rabbi Benny Lau and
Rabbi Avichai Rontsky.
“There are those that are trying to form a common
language and those who live on dispute and divisiveness, those that understand
that is possible to work together despite dispute and those who refuse to accept
dispute as the language of family,” Lau wrote in an article on
“After Shabbat, we will stand before this test, a joint stance at
Rabin Square for a moment of united remembrance, not of division.”
Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) asked Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin to postpone
the Knesset’s memorial ceremony for Rabin this year, so it cannot be used to
promote political campaigns.
The Knesset ceremony in Rabin’s memory is
scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, opposition
leader Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Labor leader Shelly
Yacimovich are expected to speech, and the Rabin family plans to
“These are pre-election days, and as everyone knows, people tend
to take advantage of such events to gain political wealth,” Ben-Ari wrote to
Rivlin on Wednesday.
“My reasonable suspicion is that instead of a
serious memorial that deals with Rabin the person, we will hear heart-wrenching
election speeches and incitement, all in the name of remembering Yitzhak Rabin,”
According to Ben-Ari, it would be more respectful to postpone
the ceremony until after the election.
Rivlin’s office never received the
letter, the Knesset Speaker’s spokesman said, pointing out that the Rabin
memorial ceremony is legally mandated, as is its date, so Rivlin would not be
able to push it off.
President Shimon Peres on Thursday opened a series
of memorial ceremonies marking the 17th anniversary of Rabin’s
“I remember that day as if 17 years have not passed,”
Peres remarked at the opening of the commemoration, a day when “the arrows of
incitement and the spears of hatred, wrapped in the guise of holiness,” derailed
Rabin from his journey for peace.
“The way to ensure a Jewish and
democratic state for future generations is to make peace,” Peres said, to carry
the torch of Rabin’s legacy.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this