The group that made its pilgrimage to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's grave on Mount Herzl on Sunday had coalesced in the 1970s, during the stormy battles between Rabin and then-fellow Laborite and rival Shimon Peres. This is the Rabin camp in the Labor Party, which is still alive and kicking 17 years after its leader was slain. They come every year on November 4.
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This year, those present agreed, the gap between this private ceremony on the secular date of the assassination, and the state ceremony on the Hebrew date, has never been greater. So has anger over the government's leaders. They are also angry at Labor's chairwoman, Shelly Yacimovich, whom they say has forgotten the main tenet of Rabin's belief - that the peace process and social justice are intertwined.
"Every year I'm invited to the state ceremony and I decline," said the emcee of Sunday's ceremony, Rabin's personal aide in the 1990s, Arieh Brosh. "Hypocrisy rules there. The person who sat on the balcony then delivers a speech to his memory now," Brosh said, referring to then-opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu's presence at a malevolently anti-Rabin demonstration shortly before the assassination.
Rabin's friends are still fuming over what they see as the hijacking of the state ceremony by politicians looking to get as much air time as possible. Family friend and journalist Niva Lanir and Rabin's campaign director in 1974, Muli Dori, said Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Netanyahu's remarks this year were self-serving.
"Netanyahu complimented Rabin who clearly saw the Iranian threat, then mentioned the changes since then that belittled everything that had taken place during Yitzhak's tenure," Lanir said. Rivlin "outdid everyone at the Knesset memorial session by claiming that the Oslo Accords showed there is no option for a two-state solution," she said.
Among those at Mt. Herzl were members of Rabin's family, including his daughter, Dalia Rabin-Pelossof, and his granddaughter, Noa Rothman (nee Ben-Artzi). But most of the people there were his partners and political advisers, MK Amir Peretz, former minister Ephraim Sneh, former minister Yaakov Tzur. "You want to be optimistic that those days will come back, but it's sad that there are some in your own home who feel that you can ignore matters of war and peace and float along just on social protest," Tzur said, referring to Yacimovich.