A young generation of hope

Do not listen to the hopeless and the disillusioned. The residents of Beit Shemesh, Nahariya, Haifa proved this week that it is possible to beat the corrupting power.

Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in 1994 (photo credit: SA’AR YA’ACOV/GPO)
Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres in 1994
(photo credit: SA’AR YA’ACOV/GPO)
Based on a speech delivered at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on November 3, marking 23 years since the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Good evening!
Thank you for coming tonight. You who have been filling this square already for the last 23 years, and those who have come tonight for the first time – you are our hope.
In the years that have passed since the murder, a generation has been born and grown up; a generation that did not have the opportunity to encounter the Israel of Rabin.
Young families, students, soldiers – I want to focus on you tonight.
You did not have the privilege to know a prime minister who cared, who actually cared about our lives; a prime minister for whom politics was not the goal itself, but a means to make a change. You did not have the privilege to know a prime minister who placed security above all, but courageously pursued peace. Your generation knows a different reality, with leadership of a different sort – leadership that instead of deciding, procrastinates; instead of solving problems, takes photos; instead of doing, makes speeches; instead of connecting us, divides us; leadership that has zero connection to our real lives.
You’re allowed to be angry.
You, the ones who did everything that was expected of you: You served in the army, you volunteered, you acquired an education and a profession. It is you who work more hours than any other Western country; you who have children, but need your parents to help you out every single month; you who cannot envision the slightest possibility of buying your own apartment; you who deliberate whether to bring another child into the world because it’s just so, so expensive.
Your parents I meet at events and gatherings, conferences and rallies. They’ve lost hope. They are deeply concerned for your future – and they’re also embarrassed – embarrassed to give financial help to their 35-year-old child. It hurts to leave a country to your child that is worse than the one you received.
They say about your generation that you are turned off by the news and politics. And the truth is, I understand you. There is no connection between what concerns you and what is going on in that world. Why should you take an interest in a political game that doesn’t even take you into account?
It wasn’t always like this.
When Rabin was minister of defense I was a soldier and an officer. My friends and I knew that Rabin would never mix politics with our security. I see young soldiers lying on mounds facing Gaza. I see the pain of the parents running anxiously to bomb shelters. They’ve already understood that in this government’s security cabinet there is a political battle over who can shout louder.
THEY KNOW that Rabin chose peace and fought Hamas. Netanyahu gave up on peace and surrendered to Hamas!
And it’s not just security. When Rabin was prime minister I was a young economist in the Ministry of Finance. We knew that problems were there to be solved, not just shrugged off.
Rabin simply would not accept a reality in which 200 salaries are required in order to buy a home. In Rabin’s day, they would never have closed an emergency room in Kiryat Shmona. It certainly would not have bored Rabin! Rabin would have thought only of us, and would not have given the green light to the corrupt natural gas deal.
Rabin proved that there’s another way.
I want to tell you – this young, wonderful generation – I want to tell you that we can. We can fill our country with hope. We can invest in you again. We can make a change to our priorities. We can create the possibility for you to live here – to truly live here – just like Rabin did.
Look around you. You are not alone. Surrounding you are citizens, women and men from all over Israel – cities, kibbutzim, moshavim, the center and the periphery, Sabras and new immigrants, young people and senior citizens, haredim, religious and secular, Jews, Arabs, Druze and Circassians.
This is a battle over the future of our country – what type of society we want, what type of leadership we desire, our values – leading by example, education for our young people, a battle for democracy!
Rabin was killed after a long period of incitement that led to a political assassination, yet we must continue Rabin’s way.
Therefore, from here, from this square, the very place which was drenched with the blood of prime minister and minister of defense Yitzhak Rabin, let’s say in a loud voice that will echo to the farthest edges of our beloved country: “We are fed up, fed up with baseless hatred for our brothers and sisters, fed up with the non-stop intimidation and fear-mongering. We are fed up with incitement against the police and the IDF chief of staff, against the president, against the press, against the Supreme Court. We are fed up with being called traitors, fed up with them always looking for someone else to blame.
A government that encourages baseless hatred has no heavenly decree. We can win. We have to win, because to win was Rabin’s way.
My entire life I have been an optimistic and practical man. And I say to you: Lift your heads up high, do not be afraid. The winds of change are blowing throughout the country. Do not believe those who tell you there is no chance for change. 
Do not listen to the hopeless and the disillusioned. The residents of Beit Shemesh, Nahariya, Haifa proved this week that it is possible to beat the corrupting power. It is possible to defeat hopelessness. The majority in Israel wants change and we can win. We can and must bring about a change.
We can win if we work together. We can succeed in uniting the people of Israel. We can be victorious and return to the way of Rabin.
Thank you very much!

The writer is leader of the Zionist Union.