Democracy or hypocrisy
Education for democracy must encompass debate about Israel's control over the lives of Palestinians deprived of civil rights. Without discussing these issues on the commemoration day of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, the initiative will not be educational, but hypocritical.
Every year on the anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination the religious camp feels persecuted and shunned, and in its feeling of collective guilt it turns on the left, the secular community, the media and the Rabin family - as if they have all come together to perpetuate the shame. The other camp, whose boundaries also shift and sharpen on the assassination's anniversary, sees the multiplicity of statements by the religious camp as a sign that the feeling of collective guilt has been internalized.
The desire to distinguish itself from the assassin Yigal Amir and what he represents is encouraging. Since the murder, the settler leadership has also become divided between the more and less extreme, with the latter prepared to agree to withdrawal in exchange for peace and the Oslo borders, the same borders that sent the right to demonstrate at Zion Square before Rabin's assassination. It should be remembered, and people should be reminded, that Amir is not insane and that only 15 years ago even the current prime minister, not to mention the previous one, shared Amir's positions on Oslo, although not his actions.
Each year the religious camp comes up with initiatives to commemorate the Rabin assassination. Most propose a national reconciliation and to change the day to "democracy day" to give it a less divisive message. These proposals are part of Israeli society's natural misgivings after the assassination, but there is no reason to accept them. The difference between the two worldviews must be honed, not dulled. If until the assassination Israel mistakenly seemed like a villa in the jungle, a modern and liberal society, on November 4, 1995, it became apparent that the dark clouds of religious-nationalist fundamentalism had not passed us over. Amir was the suicide terrorist of the struggle for the greater Land of Israel, who by chance remained alive.
A large majority of the Israeli public continues to support leaving the occupied territories in return for a peace agreement. From this point of view, Amir failed resoundingly. The minority that believes the territories must not be left under any circumstances has not grown, but it has become more extreme. It has spread over the hills of Samaria, in the yeshivas, in the preparatory programs and in Orthodox girls' high schools within the Green Line. More people of the religious right live outside the boundaries of the Israeli democracy, physically and psychologically, ardent in their faith that no agreement with the Palestinians will ever come to pass. The demand to create a Jewish consensus before any decision on withdrawal has become a code for refusing to accept any concession, even if it is supported by a large democratic majority.
The police did well to release the tape of Amir's interrogation, and its full text should be studied in civics classes. Amir decided to murder Rabin the moment the Oslo Accords were signed. He was not deterred, but rather imbued with faith in the justness of his cause. Generations of young people must be educated against this faith and cause. Even before he carried out the assassination Amir belonged to the camp that preferred the greater, occupying Land of Israel to the democratic Israel, although he understood that these are two conflicting entities. Many still believe as he does.
Education for democracy must encompass debate about Israel's control over the lives of Palestinians deprived of civil rights; it must relate to the fact that Israeli democracy suffers from an essential flaw. Without discussing these issues on the commemoration day of the assassination, the initiative will not be educational, but hypocritical.