No Peace, No Murder: Rabin Memorial Organizers Accused of 'Whitewashing' Legacy

Invitations to the event do not acknowledge that former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, and there is no mention of the word 'peace'

Israelis attend a rally in memory of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, November 5, 2016.
Moti Milrod

Many on the left are criticizing the organizers of the main rally marking the 22nd anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination over the fact that the event is not addressing the murder itself, nor the incitement that led to it. The rally will not convey any messages identified with the peace camp.

This year, for the first time, the rally is being organized by the Commanders for Israel’s Security and the Darkenu (“Our Way”) movement. Ads for the rally, which will take place on Saturday night in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, don’t mention that Rabin was murdered, nor does the word “peace” appear, ostensibly out of a desire to appeal to the broadest possible audience.

“We are one people,” reads the headline of the ad. Underneath it says, “A mass rally in memory of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, of blessed memory,” with a photo of Rabin and the Israeli flag in the background. “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,” reads the invitation. It also states that the rally will be “without the involvement of political parties or speeches by incumbent politicians.”

“A stranger looking at this strange and deceptive ad might think that Rabin died peacefully in his bed at an advanced age after a peaceful retirement,” wrote Zionist Union lawmaker Shelly Yacimovich on Facebook. “Well, Prime Minister and Defense Ministry Yitzhak Rabin was murdered. M-u-r-d-e-r-e-d. It was a political assassination aimed at eliminating an elected political leader and determining the path of the country through that murder.”

She added that the incitement against Rabin that many believe led to the murder still needs to be addressed. “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.”

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.”