Beit Hanassi Rabin ceremony 248.88.
(photo credit: Defense Ministry)
Ner Yitzhak, the annual state ceremony that ushers in a series of commemorative events on the anniversary of the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, was held at Beit Hanassi on Wednesday night.
Opposite Beit Hanassi, small clusters of adolescents, too young to remember Yitzhak Rabin, held up banners emblazoned with the words: "We will never forget. We will never forgive."
Inside the building, much younger children from Jerusalem's Rabin Peace School walked in a slow procession carrying candles symbolizing hope for the future.
President Shimon Peres, who lit a much larger candle, declared that it was not a perishable but a permanent candle, the flame of which was generated by the millions of wicks that had been kindled throughout the country in people's homes and in public places on the dark night of Rabin's death.
Soldier, diplomat, politician, statesman and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Rabin was slain on November 4, 1995 at the conclusion of a peace rally in Tel Aviv organized as a demonstration of support for the Oslo agreements.
On Wednesday evening, Peres recalled that night, one of the most difficult nights in the saga of the nation. He recalled how people from the most northern to the most southern reaches of the country had wept in anguish, how throngs of people, both young and old, had come together to light candles and share their grief.
Rabin's courageous policy and bold vision would not be abandoned, regardless of how long it took to realize, said Peres, emphasizing that today there was an entity with which to negotiate and that peace agreements had been signed with Egypt and Jordan.
Rabin's murder had disrupted and delayed the peace process, said Peres, but even though the assassin had extinguished the life of the prime minister, he had failed to extinguish the hope for peace.
Rabin's son Yuval, quoting from many of his father's speeches, brought home the fact that Rabin had been well aware of the polarized attitudes among Israel's citizens, and had stated that even though there were legitimate differences among various sectors on how to achieve peace, there was consensus with regard to the ultimate goal. Regardless of the decisions to be taken, it was a given that they all loved Israel, "and we are all Jews and brothers, responsible for each other and sharing the same fate."
Looking back at the weeks prior to the assassination, Yuval Rabin said the concept of brotherhood and mutual responsibility had not been prevalent in Israel.
"The danger was staring us in the face and we didn't see it."
At the start of the evening, a short film was screened, documenting Rabin's life from infancy to death. The final scenes were all so real it seemed to have just happened, and from the expressions on the faces of the people present, that feeling was pervasive.