Tens of thousands of people took part in an alternative memorial rally to mark 19 years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening.
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The central message of the rally, which was organized by a coalition of youth groups that goes by the umbrella of Remembering the Murder, Fighting for Democracy, was condemning violence and racism in Israeli society as well as defending democracy and freedom of expression.
The event's organizers sought to stress the fact that the rally was aimed at drawing in participants from across the political spectrum – right and left, religious and secular. Among the many youth groups participating were Hashomer Hatzair, Bnei Akiva, Beitar, Habonim Dror, Israel Scouts.
Last week, another Rabin memorial rally was held, but drew a significantly smaller crowd. That rally focused on sounding a call for the resumption of negotiations toward a regional peace accord.
Israel officially marked the anniversary of the former prime minister and foreign minister's assassination on Wednesday, the Hebrew anniversary of his death.
The rally's keynote speaker was President Reuven Rivlin, who called on the Israeli public to speak up against violence. "We were silent then, during those difficult days before Rabin's murder," Rivlin said before the crowd. "We sinned, Yitzhak. I say this today, we mustn't be silent today. Nineteen years have passed since then, but the violence has not disappeared. It is inside us. It is raising its head and standing tall, creating a space for itself.
"More than it is present in the schools, in the social networks, in demonstrations and on soccer pitches, it is inside us, in the language we use in our inability to listen. We are here this evening to say, 'Violence is not the way of the State of Israel.'"
Another speaker at the rally was Rachelle Fraenkel, mother of Naftali Fraenkel, one of the three teenagers kidnapped and murdered by a Palestinian terror cell in June. "If from among us voices are sounded that permit injury, even if they are marginal, we must erase, fix, love," she said. "If criticism turns into aggressiveness and a dispute into bloodletting, be it the blood of the boy Mohammed Abu Khdeir or Rabbi Yehuda Glick.
"No one must be under the impression that anyone's blood may be drawn. It must not be allowed to pass that demonstrators are called traitors for voicing their opinions, or soldiers who risk their lives to fight for my place here be called murderers."
Other speakers who were slated to speak at the rally were actress and comedienne Orna Banai, whose remarks during the Gaza war last summer stirred controversy; Rabbi Yona Goodman, former head of Bnei Akiva youth movement; Ali Zahalka, principal of the bilingual high school in Kfar Kara; and Haim Asa, who was an aide to Rabin.