Rabin's granddaughter spars with rightists in TA

Our Land of Israel movement says Rabin responsible for post-Oslo terror deaths; Rabin gov't holds 20th reunion get-together.

Left-wing activists rally in favor of Oslo Accords 370 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS)
Left-wing activists rally in favor of Oslo Accords 370 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An altercation between Noa Rotman, granddaughter of slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, and members of an ultra-nationalist group on Tuesday marred a nostalgic tribute to Rabin by former members of his government on the twentieth anniversary of its formation.
Carrying signs that charged Rabin with responsibility for the 1,000 deaths perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists in the aftermath of the Oslo Accords, the group – headed by Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir of the Our Land of Israel Movement – accosted participants in the memorial event as they exited the Rabin Center in Jerusalem and made their way to the parking lot.
Giving arms to terrorists canceled out any of the positive things Rabin had done, Ben-Gvir told Rotman, while Marzel said that she had become very wealthy as a result of her grandfather’s death. Rotman, at the time Noa Ben-Arzi, was reported as having received $1 million for writing a memoir about her grandfather.
Rotman was close to tears as she drove off.
But even before the rightwing attack, the meeting between former ministers, deputy ministers, advisers and Labor Party activists lacked spontaneity.
Although the ministers found themselves seated around a table, they did not engage in any form of debate.
The moderator was veteran journalist and television personality Dan Shilon, who appeared to model the event on his long-defunct but highly popular show, Dan Shilon Live.
There had been a lot of hugging, kissing, hand-shaking and backslapping prior to the formal proceedings as people who had once been as tight as canned sardines, once more came together.
“We were together almost 24 hours a day. It does something to you,” said Leah Goldberg, who is today the director of the Chaim Herzog Center and was once the director of Rabin’s office in the Labor Party, where she subsequently worked with Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak.
The prevailing view was that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who had briefly been the internal affairs minister in the second Rabin administration, are not good for Israel. More time was spent on criticizing them than on praising Rabin.
Shimon Sheves – the director- general of the Prime Minister’s Office during Rabin’s second stint – described Netanyahu and Barak as two madmen running the state who imbue fear in the population and said that no one is doing anything to silence them.
They are creating a terrible situation and pose a great danger to public morale, Sheves continued, adding, “We have to use every democratic means to stop them.”
Sheves was not the only one at the meeting who believes that Netanyahu and Barak are preying on people’s fears. Uzi Bar-Am – once the third of five internal affairs ministers during Rabin’s tenure – spoke of the balance between fear and hope.
In Rabin’s time, the balance leaned toward hope, and under the current regime it is weighed down by fear, said Bar-Am.
“Hope comes from great leadership,” said MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor), “but Israel is suffering from a dry season in leadership.”
Former finance minister Avraham Shohat said he has absolutely no confidence in Barak, whereas he had every confidence in Rabin. whose government, according to Shohat, was one of hope.
As to the subject of an assault on Iran, the response was nearly unanimous. Ben- Eliezer – who was construction and housing minister under Rabin – was the only one who used the word “no,” adding afterwards that he does not think that Barak is making the right decision.
Amnon Lipkin Shahak – the chief of staff in the early 1990s – said no one can be certain that if Israel were to strike, the Iranian nuclear threat would be eliminated.
Haim Ramon, former health minister, said that a strike by Israel would exacerbate the situation because it would give Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the excuse he needed to go ahead with his country’s nuclear program.
Former environment minister Yossi Sarid said he would be in favor of a strike against Iran if it would help terminate the political careers of Netanyahu and Barak. He regretted that Barak was not present, because if he had been, perhaps the collective in the room might have been able inject him with some sense of responsibility.
Moshe Shahal, the communications minister under Rabin, said he cannot rest easy when he thinks of the two key decision-makers for Israel’s future.
David Libai, who had served as the fourth minister for internal affairs, was convinced that Rabin, who he described as “a virtuoso on security” would have waited, and would not have struck Iran until he had managed to reduce every risk factor.
Former immigrant absorption minister Yair Tsaban warned that while it was hazardous to jump the gun on the Iran issue, it was equally perilous to simply do nothing.
“There is an inherent danger in inertia and we can’t risk that danger,” he said.
Former industry, trade and labor minister Micha Harish credited Rabin with weighing all viewpoints before reaching a decision.
“He encouraged ministers and senior IDF officers to speak their minds, even if their views did not coincide with his own,” he said.
Former minister for economic planning Yossi Beilin and former health minister Ephraim Sneh, both related to Rabin’s long-term vision and his desire to settle the conflict with the Palestinians before turning his attention to Iran.
Rabin initially had reservations about Oslo. When asked why he changed his mind, said Beilin, he replied that he wanted to reach a peace accord with the Palestinians before Iran became nuclear.
Former agriculture minister Yaacov Tzur said Rabin would not make a decision related to Israel’s political strategy without consulting the people.
Tzur had once been asked to deliver an address on peace with Syria, and consulted with Rabin on what was appropriate vis-à-vis Israel’s policy. Rabin had told Tzur that the final decision was one that he could not make alone, because it involved a change in Israel’s strategy.
“I can do it,” he’d said, “but not without a referendum.”
Missing from the reunion for various reasons, including health, tact and travel considerations, were: former ministers Shulamit Aloni, Shimon Sheetrit, Amnon Rubinstein, Gonen Segev, Ora Namir, Arye Deri and Yisrael Kessar.
Peres, whose official role does not allow him to comment publicly on politics or politicians, left immediately after delivering his address.