Youth groups plan alternative Rabin memorial

Ceremony "to save democracy" aims to be relevant to Israel's current social and political realities.

Tel Aviv memorial for Yitzhak Rabin in 2001 370 (R) (photo credit: Havakuk Levison/Reuters)
Tel Aviv memorial for Yitzhak Rabin in 2001 370 (R)
(photo credit: Havakuk Levison/Reuters)
Youth movements and social NGOs plan to gather for an alternative ceremony to honor the anniversary of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination next month.
The memorial on October 27 in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, where the prime minister was assassinated in 1995, is meant to be relevant to current social and political realities, explained Amihai Stinger, one of the ceremony’s organizers and a leader of Dror Israel, a kibbutz- related movement.
The Yitzhak Rabin Center is not organizing a ceremony at Rabin Square this year. As such, Dror Israel and other youth movements will run the memorial.
“The assassination was a symbol, a sign warning us against becoming an anti-democratic, violent, racist society made up of groups that were alienated from each other, and such problems have only increased since then,” Stinger said.
The ceremony’s organizers call for those who identify with democratic values to take part in the event, adding that it will deal with complex, challenging topics beyond the assassination itself that will “touch raw nerves in Israeli society.”
According to Stinger, “Since November 4, 1995, two scary things have happened: The memory and legacy of Rabin was almost forgotten, especially by the younger generation, and democracy was harmed while political violence increased.”
Prof. Yossi Yonah, of Ben-Gurion University’s philosophy department, said no organization has a monopoly on the memorial, and that he hopes that a wide spectrum of activists will participate in order to defend democracy.
“In recent years, most of the public discourse on this topic is to forget [the assassination], to discuss crazy conspiracies and give public legitimacy to pardoning accomplices to the murder,” Yonah said. “Any attempt to say something of value, something moral and critical, was removed from the memorial ceremonies. That is why we decided to act.”
Manhigut Yehudit leader Moshe Feiglin, who was charged with sedition following his anti-Oslo Accord activism, also said the lesson of Rabin’s assassination had to do with democracy, but in a different way than Stinger and Yonah described it.
According to Feiglin, there is much to be learned from the assassination, but youth groups are unlikely to highlight the real messages by “putting nice liberal messages on a demonstration.”
“Oslo was born under a true dictatorship. We should learn to listen to the minority. There was a tyranny of the majority [at the time], even though they had no majority in support of Oslo. We can’t let that happen again,” Feiglin stated.
“That is the real lesson, but no one will dare teach it; the Oslo industry has too much money for real soul-searching.”
Rabin was responsible for his own assassination, the right-wing activist added, while his murderer, Yigal Amir, was a symptom rather than a problem.
“Most assassins are crazy, but Yigal Amir is sane,” Feiglin said. “We still don’t know who killed Rabin; no one has answered the real questions.”
Feiglin concluded that Israel has no reason to be proud of Rabin and has nothing to learn from the former prime minister.