At the great peace rally in Tel Aviv the night he was later to be murdered by law student Yigal Amir at Bar Ilan University, Rabin declared: “I believe there is a chance for peace – a great opportunity.”
Amir, an ultra-nationalist, wanted to prevent Israel from making concessions to the Palestinians in return for a peace agreement, and shot Rabin trying to get into his car at the end of the rally.
An entire generation was born in Israel without ever knowing Rabin – but they do know about him because no former leader in the country was so honored on the day of his death – not even David Ben-Gurion.
There is an official state memorial ceremony for every deceased president and prime minister, with eulogies for the incumbent president and prime minister, but in the Rabin’s case there are symposia, conferences, a special session of the Knesset, lectures in schools across the country, guided tours of the Rabin -Center and peace dialogues on Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, named after him after his death.
Some of these activities actually began on Sunday, although Monday, the 12th day of the Hebrew calendar month of Heshvan, was the actual anniversary of his death – and the day President Isaac Herzog lit the giant memorial candle named Ner Yitzhak and later attended a state ceremony on Mount Herzl to honor the memories of Yitzhak and Leah Rabin.
Herzog then took part in the special session of the Knesset as the fifth president. The various commemorative events will last until November 4th, the Gregorian anniversary of Rabin’s death.
YIGAL AMIR obviously did not know that he killed the man who was a hero of the War of Independence, the Chief of Staff during the Six Day War, the Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Defense Minister, the first Sabra Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, he has immortalized his memory by made him the first prime minister of Israel to be murdered – and worse, he was murdered by an Israeli-born religious observant Jew.
Four generations of the Rabin family around Rachel Yaakov, the 96-year-old sister of the late Prime Minister, were present, and two of his great-grandchildren lit the memorial candle together with Herzog.
The basic message of the event, presented by Herzog, a student at Rabin School in Tel Mond and Rabin’s grandson Yonatan Ben Artzi, speaking on behalf of the family, was that of individual and national responsibility to accept others who may not look like that or do we think we are doing it to stamp out hatred and sedition and to unite to form national unity regardless of our differences.
Speaking of Rabin, the military officer, Herzog noted that he had been the commandant of Herzog’s father and father-in-law.
The president also mentioned that next year the nation will celebrate the 100th anniversary of Rabin’s birth and reflected on some of the historical events that had taken place during that time. He spoke of the Holocaust, the War of Independence in which Rabin had commanded the Harel Brigade, and the Six Day War in which Israel won its greatest victory under the leadership of Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin, whom Duke called “a leader” of a different kind. “
Rabin had known Herzog almost from birth because he had attended his circumcision ceremony. The President recalled sitting on a stone bench at the rally when Rabin gave his final address in which he advocated peace rather than animus. He couldn’t forget the enthusiasm with which the speech had been received and the way Leah Rabin sparkled with joy when she received kisses from the people around her.
Herzog emphasized that Rabin’s memorial day was not just the man himself, but the memory of a political murder in the sovereign state of Israel, born of hatred, agitation and terrible extremism that threatened the democratic character of the state.
He attributed part of the social divide to modern technology, which can connect people with one another in the blink of an eye, but also tear them apart.
YONATAN BEN ARTZI said the anniversary of his grandfather’s death left no Israeli untouched, but it was a daily loss to his family members. You remember Rabin’s valiant efforts to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians while defending Israel’s democracy.
Echoing the hatred and incitement that caused deep rifts in Israeli society on the eve of Rabin’s assassination, Ben Artzi said that hatred, incitement and violence had prevailed in recent years, but 2021 was a turning point.
“After years of fear and paralysis, the citizens of Israel straightened their backs and stood upright; Freedom and democracy have triumphed and defeated verbal and physical violence and the culture of tyranny and lies, ”said Ben Artzi. “The rule of the people has defeated the one-person rule. Gone was the idea of a single privileged individual. ”The conclusion on Netanyahu was loud and clear. It is time for the nation to overcome its trauma and begin healing, he said.
Netanyahu’s reported reaction was that he was always used as a political foil at Rabin memorial services. If he showed up he was attacked, and if he didn’t show up he was attacked too.