Rabin memorial 248 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
Friends and family of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin were given a brief scare on Tuesday evening, when a man pretending to be handicapped attempted to enter a memorial for the slain former prime minister at Mount Herzl with a toy gun hidden inside his wheelchair.
Security forces immediately searched and arrested the man, along with his female companion, both investigative reporters for Channel 10, who were checking security at the ceremony.
The incident sent chills through the crowd - which included Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his deputy, MK Matan Vilna'i - who had gathered to remember the slain former prime minister on the 13th anniversary of his assassination.
Just as Rabin's killer, an Orthodox Jew, told authorities he shot Rabin because of his ideological opposition to the then-prime minister's peace initiatives with the Palestinians, speakers at Tuesday's memorial stressed the danger of the present threats in the current political atmosphere.
In the clearest possible terms, National Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said that a political assassination was still a very real possibility today. "The writing is on the wall once again," Ben-Eliezer said to the crowd. "And this time it's in bigger letters. The next political assassination is right around the corner."
Ben-Eliezer also commented on recent riots by West Bank settlers, saying, "People who couldn't survive one day in the territories without the IDF's protection dare attack soldiers on duty."
And while he did go as far as to point a finger at the fringe extreme right in the West Bank as the source of the current threats, Ben-Eliezer also made it clear that he was not making generalizions about an entire segment of the country's population.
"It's impossible to speak negatively of [the settler movement] in general terms," he said. "Because the majority of them are good, faithful people who mean no harm."
Still, Ben-Eliezer said, the threat posed by extremists was to be taken extremely seriously. "This cancer is fatal," he said. "It's more dangerous than any of our external threats."
Prof. Ze'ev Sternhell, who was lightly wounded last month when a pipe bomb - planted by suspected extremists - exploded outside his Jerusalem home, also addressed the crowd.
"After the recent demolition of the Federman Farm near Hebron, Rabbi Dov Lior compared the action to that of the Nazis, when they expelled his family from their home in Poland, because they were Jews," Sternhell said. "That sort of comparison shows that we've learned nothing since the murder 13 years ago. We've learned nothing because there's nobody that wants to learn. Dov Lior is not alone, there are plenty of others that share the same views."
Others expressed their anger.
"I won't even say his name," said Yehezkel Sharabi, Rabin's driver on the night he was shot, alluding to Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir.
"I would take him down to Rabin Square and show him how loved the man was. I'd let the crowd down there tell him something."
Yehoshua Bar-Dayan, an author and a friend of Rabin's, said the political climate today was similar to that of the fall of 1995.
"It's not exactly the same," he said. "But it looks a lot like it, and that worries me." Bar-Dayan recounted the heroism exhibited by Rabin.
"He was from a pioneering family, he was in the Palmah, he fought in the battle for Jerusalem and opened the Jerusalem road. Then he was an officer, a Knesset minister, and the prime minister, twice. How could a man, with a kippa on his head no less, take that away from us?" Bar-Dayan asked.
"That's why I come here every year," he said. "It's important to remember, because I'm afraid. I want there to be state for my grandchildren, and this sort of thing make me afraid that there won't be one."
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