Children learn democracy via Rabin’s assassination

Six-grade classmates learn about Yitzak Rabin at school and extract some important lessons from his story.

School Rabin Ceremony 370 (photo credit: DANIELLE ZIRI)
School Rabin Ceremony 370
(photo credit: DANIELLE ZIRI)
“My parents told me that it was a very, very special day when everyone remembers where they were. My dad was at home and my mum was at the rally. It was a very important day,” explained 11-yearold May Kremer, pupil at Revivim elementary school in Ganei Tikva, south of Petah Tikva.
Kremer and her schoolmates participated in this year’s Yitzhak Rabin memorial ceremony in the school’s gym on Sunday morning.
She and her six-grade classmates were born in 2001, six years after Rabin’s murder, and have only heard of him through their parents and the school.
“I know he was prime minister and everybody liked him and he wanted peace with the Arab countries. I know he went down the stairs and Yigal Amir shot him, three times,” said Amit Melamed, who also is in the sixth grade.
Both Kremer and Melamed said they have learned about Rabin at school for a few years now and extracted some important lessons from his story.
“We learned that it is better to use words than violence,” Melamed said. “Yigal Amir shot him because he didn’t agree with his opinions, but he could have spoken to him and maybe reached an agreement so that both of them would have been satisfied, instead of killing him,” she added.
“If you use violence and hit someone, both sides lose because first, you will get punished and second, the other person is hurt. But if you just talk, then both sides get to an agreement somehow,” Kremer said.
Orit Artzi, principal at Revivim, said teaching about Rabin to kids who never knew him requires a particular approach: “We show them aspects that are easier to connect to, like the fact that he was a grandpa, and the songs he liked, and the fact that he liked to go for walks. These are things that are easier for them to understand,” she said. “It’s how they will see him as an important person and not someone from the past, who isn’t relevant anymore.”
She said that teaching about the former prime minister includes telling the kids to ask their parents about the day of his murder: “When it comes from mum and dad, with the feelings that they felt that day, it’s easier to grasp. When they see their parents’ emotion they identify with it much more.”
Artzi explained that in teaching about Rabin the school also teaches the ideas of patience, problem solving and listening, while making sure to avoid political discussions: “We are an education institution, and in our education, we believe in the phrase ‘no to violence, yes to patience.’” Kremer and Melamed say taking part in this year’s ceremony is important to them, even though they feel more strongly about ceremonies for Holocaust Remembrance Day and Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars.
“I’m happy to be doing the ceremony, but I’m not happy that there is a ceremony. It’s a sad thing,” Kremer said.
“For us it’s obviously very important but much less than for the people who were there or people who lived at the time,” she added.
Melamed said she is often surprised at how far adults take violence.
“For adults, violence is murder, and hitting someone really really hard and really mean words. For us it’s slaps and then we say we’re sorry,” she said. “I don’t think kids can get to murder, they do other things but not that bad!” Each year, Revivim school’s ceremony is performed by a sixth-grade student, of which there are about 100.
“Six-graders are the oldest kids in our school and they will leave a stamp on this school.
We give them a few fields of responsibility. It’s not just the ceremony, it’s everything they learn by taking part in it and everything that they, as counselors for the first-graders, will teach the younger kids,” Artzi explained.
“As I always say, the pupils of today are the citizens of tomorrow, they are responsible for making sure that events like these will not happen again,” she said.
From what she knows about Rabin, Melamed said she would have liked it if he was alive today: “With what’s happening with Iran, it’s kinda scary and if he managed to make peace with Jordan, then I think he could have made peace with the other countries and we wouldn’t be at such a big argument with Iran. He could maybe have made it better,” she said.
During the 20-minute ceremony in which pupils sang, danced and read paragraphs about the former prime minister, Artzi spoke to the children, teachers and parents. She ended her speech with by quoting Rabin: “To bequeath to the future generations a better world, a calmer world, a world that is agreeable to live in,” adding that this is a motto she, as an educator, strongly believes in.
Education institutions across the country, including universities, high school and elementary schools, marked the event with ceremonies on Sunday.