Sharon: 'His personal history did not start with Oslo'

Official commemoration of Rabin's assassination marked by speeches from Clinton, Sharon, Noa Ben-Artzi.

rabin shake 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
rabin shake 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) offended several MKs Monday with claims that politicians were still trying to make political gains from the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin 10 years after his death. The remarks were made during Rivlin’s opening address to the Knesset’s special session commemorating Rabin. “Is Rabin’s legacy winning hearts as a myth that services a certain ideology?” Rivlin said, referring to the beliefs preached by Rabin during the Oslo Accords. “We have gathered here today not because of Rabin’s legacy, but because of the murder.” Rivlin, however, also emphasized that Rabin was assassinated because of the political path he was pursuing. “Rabin was murdered because of his political way. He was murdered because of Oslo,” he said. “We shouldn’t blur this or forget this, but in the same breath we must add this does not give extra weight to his political views, which many good people disagreed with and continue to disagree with to this day.” Many MKs responded harshly to Rivlin’s speech, claiming that as speaker of the Knesset he should have remained more neutral during his opening address. “He has the tendency to anger people, which is not appropriate on this most sensitive day,” said Interior Minister Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor). “This is a sad day for me and many others. Say this on a different occasion or a different day. As Knesset speaker, he speaks for all of us, and he needs to learn that it is not appropriate to express these things.” “It is a shame that the Knesset speaker uses his position to transmit a political and ideological message in a national event,” said Ilan Leibovitch (Shinui). “I truly regret that he always chooses to say the wrong thing at the wrong time.” After Rivlin, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon spoke, urging the Knesset to remember “that terrible night” when Rabin was murdered. “We must always remember where hatred and fanaticism and intolerance can lead,” he said. “The terrible murder of Yitzhak Rabin serves as a warning sign for all of us regarding what could happen if we choose that which separates us over that what unites us.” Opposition leader Yosef Lapid (Meretz), Labor faction chairman Ephraim Sneh and Vice Premier Shimon Peres (Labor), recalled Rabin’s legacy in successive speeches following Sharon. At a ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl military cemetery earlier in the day, Sharon said he “loved” and admired Rabin despite their political differences and opposing visions, reflecting their shared camaraderie. “I loved Yitzhak even when we did not see eye to eye. We walked a long road together in the IDF and we maintained our mutual appreciation when we took to opposing political roads,” Sharon said in an unusually emotional address. “I did not hold back on my criticism when I thought him wrong, and he did the same,” he said, adding he “never doubted [Rabin’s] integrity and his commitment to the people of Israel.” Dozens of foreign dignitaries, including former US president Bill Clinton and his wife, New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gathered on the somber Jerusalem hilltop to reflect on the life and death of the slain prime minister. The late-afternoon ceremony, which was broadcast live on TV and radio, opened with a recording of Rabin’s last speech, made at the November 4, 1995 Tel Aviv peace rally at which he was assassinated by Yigal Amir, now serving a life sentence. Rabin’s grandson, Michael, lit the remembrance torch marking the start of the hour-long ceremony, while OC Chaplaincy Corps Brig.-Gen. Yisrael Weiss recited El Malei Rahamim, and Rabin’s son, Yuval, said Kaddish. In his address, President Moshe Katsav called the first Jewish assassination of an Israeli leader “a fracture” in the Jewish nation. “It is a failure of the educational system and security establishment, a failure in instilling national and moral values, the moral values of the Torah,” he said. “It seems to me that we can all love Yitzhak Rabin, but we cannot forget that he fell as a universal soldier in a conflict that continues to bedevil the world,” Bill Clinton said. Rabin’s granddaughter, Noa Ben-Artzi, said that despite the national mourning for Rabin, her family has never found solace in the nation. “Since that dark night in November, his missing presence screams out at me from everywhere,” she said. “It’s been 10 years in which he has become just street names, squares, a hospital, and schools. There’s just one thing he can no longer be my grandfather.” At the dedication of the new Yitzhak Rabin center in Tel Aviv Monday evening, Sharon called on the founders of the center “to remember Yitzhak Rabin as he truly was.” Sharon said that in recent years there were attempts from some segments of the population to claim him as their own, and this was a mistake. Former president Clinton also spoke at the evening and said that the Rabin Center can be a way in which private individuals can impact on the greater good. The Rabin Center, designed by noted architect Moshe Safdie, will house an educational center, a museum of the history of Israeli society and democracy, and the library and archives.