The plans to cancel the annual gathering on the anniversary of the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the general strike that wasn't have a common denominator: the escape from politics. This is one of the great ailments of Israeli society.

Indeed, the gathering in memory of Rabin was meant to be a gathering of the left, by the left, for the left, a gathering that was a call to the flag and a consolidation of the camp. Rabin died as the left's leader in his struggle to end the occupation, and the murderer came from the right to squelch the chance of returning to sanity. The murderer acted in the service of the right's goals, the murder was prepared by people of the right and only benefited the right.

The preparations included advance legitimization for harming the man who shook Yasser Arafat's hand, and these preparations had two aspects: the large right-wing rally on Jerusalem's Zion Square, where Rabin was depicted in an SS uniform, and the rumors that spread across the country about religious edicts against the prime minister.

These were the two arms that closed around the life of Yitzhak Rabin. The whole Likud leadership was at the rightist rally in Jerusalem. Of course, not everyone there yearned for Rabin's death, but I don't recall that any of those present, the leaders that stood on the balcony and the demonstrators in the square, expressed shock, or at least discomfort, at the scene unfolding before them. On the contrary, all were moved by their followers' zeal. That's how the atmosphere that made the murder possible was created, and anyone who was part of creating that atmosphere bears moral responsibility for the results.

This is why any attempt to turn the gathering in Rabin Square into another rally without content or substance, tired and superficial, will only give another platform for saccharine calls the president and people of the "liberal" center are experts at delivering. In practical terms, this will only be another effort in the great campaign to paralyze the left. "Unity" is a code word for liquidating the left as an independent political force, as has happened to the Labor Party in recent years. It is no coincidence that in the not-too-distant past, when the left was in power and was still trying to save the country f+++rom sinking into colonialism and occupation, such calls were not heard.

The same goes for the strike that wasn't. The Histadrut is proud of its status as a non-political organization. And really, in comparison to Europe, the Histadrut is not a union in the regular sense of the term. Its ranks include people with views that are polar opposites on every issue in the world save one: benefiting themselves.

This is a legitimate goal, but it contains nothing that will turn the Histadrut into a body with a comprehensive worldview that can develop positions on basic questions of society and economics. Social and economic questions are moral questions, too, and the Histadrut couldn't care less about those. In contrast to European unions, the Histadrut is not fighting the most aggressive manifestations of the neoliberal economy, it is not interested in justice and equality, it is not promoting solidarity among workers, including foreign workers, and it is not mobilizing the strong wage earners to protect the weak ones.

But more than anything, the Histadrut refuses to understand that the key to changing the difficult social situation is political. In all of western Europe, unions act in close cooperation with leftist parties. True, for that there first needs to be a left, and then there should be unions with real social awareness. Here that is apparently an excessive demand.