10th-anniversary commemorations for Rabin start today

A state ceremony at Beit Hanassi at 10:30 Thursday morning will mark the official commencement of a series of events commemorating the 10th anniversary of the assassination of the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. This will be the eighth consecutive year in which the annual remembrance events for Rabin, who was killed by university student Yigal Amir, will be launched from Beit Hanassi. Amir is serving a life sentence in solitary confinement for the crime. President Moshe Katsav said earlier this week that he would not consider any appeal from Amir, who is seeking a retrial and early release from prison. Meanwhile, as happens every year at this time, conspiracy theories are resurfacing, with reports alleging the existence of an additional bullet in Rabin's shirt that did not come from Amir's gun. At this morning's ceremony, which will be attended by members of the Rabin family, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, government ministers, MKs and members of the Rabin Center, Katzav will join students of the Rabin School in Netanya in lighting memorial candles in honor of the slain premier. Appropriate texts will be read and Meital Tarbalisi will sing Rabin's favorite song 'Hareut' (Camaraderie) and the Hebrew version of Walt Whitman's "O Captain My Captain" composed by Naomi Shemer after Rabin's death. Dalia Rabin, the late prime minister's daughter and head of the Rabin Center, attaches great importance to involving children and youth in Rabin memorial events. As leaders of the future, it is important for them to be inculcated with democratic values from the earliest possible age, she says. In a prepared statement released to the media, Dalia Rabin expressed her appreciation to the Beit Hanassi, occupied by Ezer Weizman at the time, for establishing the tradition in which an annual memorial ceremony for her father is held at Beit Hanassi. She was grateful to Katsav for continuing the tradition, particularly in the significant 10th year. She was also appreciative of the fact that each year Katsav renews the message that political assassination is a phenomenon that can neither be forgotten nor tolerated. The essential purpose of the Rabin Center, she stressed, is to enable democratic values in Israel to take root and grow stronger. The candlelighting ceremony serves as a reminder of the swarms of traumatized children who came to what is now Rabin Square in Tel Aviv to light candles in his memory in the immediate aftermath of his assassination. Following the formal proceedings, the Israel Democracy Institute, which for more than a decade has published an annual Democracy Index that measures Israeli democracy against that of other countries, will conduct a Democracy Index panel discussion on the place of the assassination in the collective consciousness of Israeli society.