Following protests by the left, organizers of a rally marking the 22nd anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, changed its advertisements, by adding the word “murder,” which had previously been omitted.
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Ads inviting the public to attend the rally had been titled “We are one people” and had stated “mass rally in memory of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, of blessed memory.” Now “of blessed memory” has been replaced with “marking 22 years since his murder.”
The amended ad is now the main picture on the Facebook page of the event and of the two movements that organized it: Commanders for Israel’s Security and Darkenu (“Our Way”).
Left-wing circles have criticized the organizers of the rally for ignoring the murder of Rabin and the incitement that led to it, as well as the absence of messages associated with the peace camp.
“On November 4, we will stand together, all Israelis from all corners of the country, and we will strengthen the unity of the people, moderation and Israel’s secure future – for the eternity of the nation-state of the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora, a democratic state in the spirit of the principles of the Declaration of Independence,” the invitation had read. It also stated that the rally will be “without the involvement of political parties or speeches by incumbent politicians.”
“A foreigner reading that weird, misleading ad might think that Rabin died peacefully in bed, after retiring, and now the gang is getting together to have a little sing-along and share fond, amusing memories,” opposition Knesset member Shelly Yacimovich of the Zionist Union wrote on her Facebook page. “Well, prime minister and defense minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered. MURDERED. It was a political assassination designed to eliminate an elected political leader and to change the path of the nation by that murder.”
She added that the incitement against Rabin that many believe led to the murder still needs to be addressed, and said the circle of those who remember the national trauma should be widened beyond Rabin’s political camp: it should be taught to everyone forever.
“This ad denies that memory to everyone – erases it, whitewashes it and hides it. It’s an embarrassing ad that reeks of fear. There’s still time until the rally to recover and remember,” said Yacimovich.
Many on the left echoed the criticism. “Sickening,” wrote Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York.
“It’s sad, depressing, insulting. Makes people forget!” responded Shimon Sheves, who was the director general of the Prime Minister’s Office during Rabin’s last term.
“The decision to devote the Rabin rally to ‘the unity of the people’ is pathetic,” wrote Yonatan Levi from Molad – the Center for the Renewal of Israeli Democracy.
Last week the Peace Now movement criticized the organizers. “We will come to the annual rally in Rabin Square,” the group wrote on its Facebook page. “But we do not intend to ignore the choice of the rally organizers this year to erase and blur the legacy of Prime Minister Rabin and the events that took place in Israel before the terrible murder.”
Polly Bronstein, the director of Darkenu, rebuffed the criticism. “We are really trying to be as statesmanlike as we can, but absolutely not at the expense of the fact that we are gathering in the square to remember not just Rabin the leader and his legacy, but the fact that he was murdered for political reasons and on the backdrop of wild incitement and terrible polarization that existed during that period and unfortunately has been with us since then. Rabin’s assassination does not belong to the leftist camp and its lessons must be learned by the entire public.”