Dalia Rabin and Reuven Rivlin, November 4, 2014.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
“I feel as if I’m in a television series. Everything is so surrealistic.” Dalia Rabin, the daughter of slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was speaking at the President’s Residence on Tuesday at the annual Ner Yitzhak memorial candle lighting ceremony that marked the 19th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
She was referring primarily to the recent circulation of a photograph of President Reuven Rivlin with a red kaffiye on his head.
When she had seen the photograph, she said, she had asked herself whether it was possible that such a thing could happen. Before her father’s assassination, photographs and posters of him wearing a Nazi SS uniform were circulated at protest rallies negating the Oslo peace process.
The photograph of Rivlin was in response to his visit to the Arab city of Kafr Kassem on the memorial day of the 1956 massacre in which 49 unarmed civilians were killed by Israeli Border Police. Although other Israelis have over the years apologized to the people of Kafr Kassem, including Shimon Peres, when he was president, no other Israeli had ventured there on the memorial day of the massacre. Rivlin actually went a few days earlier, knowing in advance that he would be in Poland on the actual date.
The visit did not sit well with people on the ultra right of the political spectrum, and Rivlin was subjected to much criticism as well as some ugly comments on his Facebook page.
Alluding to all this, Rabin warned that the writing is on the wall and the threat from within the ranks of Israeli society looms yet again. Incitement, intolerance and fear prevail, she said.
Although she and Rivlin come from different sides of the political fence said Rabin, what unites them is their commitment to democratic values.
She placed great importance on the fact that Rivlin consistently speaks out against incitement.
Rivlin said that it was no secret that he had been opposed to the Oslo accords, but at the same time he was a great admirer of Yitzhak Rabin. Much has been discussed with regard to Rabin’s legacy, said Rivlin, but he had many legacies.
As far as Rivlin was concerned, Rabin’s most important legacy was that of leadership, and not specifically of war and peace.
Rabin, the first Sabra prime minister was not molded by the terrain onto which he was born. He molded the terrain, said Rivlin. He was an active partner in the founding and development of the state, and his life was one of leadership in what he did and what he decided. His childhood was spent in Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv. He was a student at the Kadoorie Agricultural School, at the foot of Mount Tabor in the Lower Galilee, then went for training to Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan in the north. With the outbreak of war, he became a combatant in the Palmach. He was arrested by the British and sent to a detention camp in Rafiah south of Gaza. Following his release he became the Palmach’s chief operator in the Negev and was subsequently appointed Commander of the Harel Brigade which saw fierce fighting en route to Jerusalem in the War of Independence, and was instrumental in liberating the city.
Rivlin continued to list Rabin’s military triumphs in Lod and Beersheba, and later as Chief of Staff during the Six Days War, during which said Rivlin, he restored Israel’s borders and holy sites.
Although he was in political disagreement with Rabin, said Rivlin, it was clear to him that their differences came out of love of the land. They simply had different approaches.
In tandem with his struggle for peace, Rivlin recalled, Rabin envisaged the period beyond the signing of a peace treaty, and did not ignore the country’s internal needs. Together with peace and security he also gave priority to education, health and social welfare.