Ex-settler Leader to Address Annual Rabin Rally as Organizers Reach Out to Israel's Right

Under the slogan “We are one people,” memorial rally organizers have gone to great lengths to avoid conflating the event with Israel's left-wing, Rabin's political homeground

File photo: Then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin speaking at a press conference in Paris.
Yaakov Saar / GPO

The organizers of the main rally marking 22 years since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin have informed leftist parties and movements that they will not be allowed to erect booths at the event as they have done in previous years.

The rally, scheduled for Saturday night at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, is being organized this year for the first time by the organizations Commanders for Israel’s Security and Darkenu, under the slogan “We are one people.”

Because the sponsors want to attract right-wingers to the rally as well, they decided to refrain from conveying messages identified with the left. They also announced that sitting politicians will not be speaking at the event.

Announcements of the rally initially stated that it was to be held “in memory of Rabin,” and only on Monday was the word "murder" added, following criticism by the left. The announcements make no mention of the incitement that preceded Rabin’s assassination, nor does the word “peace” appear in them.

Haaretz has learned that the keynote speaker at the rally will be former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit. This decision was made after the organizers failed to bring together on one stage the six living former IDF chiefs of staff. Oded Ravivi, head of the Efrat Local Council and Yehuda Meshi Zahav, head of the first aid service Zaka, are scheduled to speak, as is a resident of the settlement of Ofra, Esther Brot. Also on the program is Dr. Micha Goodman, whose book, published this year, “Catch 67,” deals with the dispute in Israeli society between left and right. The organizers also want an Arab speaker on the program, but have not yet decided who that will be. Leaders of the two groups sponsoring the rally will also address the crowd. There will be performances by singers Esther Rada, Shiri Maimon, Yehuda Poliker, Moshe Peretz, Agam Buhbut, Hanan Ben-Ari and the Sharonit Choir.

In a press conference organized in January by Commanders for Israel’s Security, Shavit was sharply critical of the government. “We are being led by a group of messianic people led by [Education Minister Naftali] Bennett, who have renewed the custom of human sacrifices to the Moloch of territory and prefer [territory] over human life,” he said at the time. “A whole country is being held hostage by the edge of the edge of the messianic right wing, a bunch of extremists that are pushing Israel to demographic and ethnic suicide, to a reality of more bloodshed, more mourning and more terror, and nobody is stopping them.”

In a March 2015 press conference of Commanders for Israel’s Security, Shavit asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Where is your responsibility? The time has come for you to answer either the tough questions or not stand for elections,” he said.