Zionist Union Takes Over Rabin Memorial Rally, but at Odds Over Message

Herzog and Livni pushing for apolitical approach, but some MKs want it to attack government over what they say is assault on democracy.

Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior
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A large-scale reproduction of a photo of Yitzhak Rabin is mounted in Rabin Square ahead of a commemorative rally, Oct. 25, 2015.
A large-scale reproduction of a photo of Yitzhak Rabin is mounted in Rabin Square ahead of a commemorative rally, Oct. 25, 2015. Credit: Gil Cohen Magen
Ilan Lior
Ilan Lior

After lack of funds almost killed the rally to mark the 21st anniversary of the assassination of former-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, officials from the Zionist Union party are moving to organize the even slated to be held in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday night.

However, party officials have clashed about the rally’s character and message. MK Isaac Herzog, chairman of the opposition, and MK Tzipi Livni, his partner in leading the center-left party, believe it should have be apolitical, and appeal to as wide an audience as possible for the sake of bringing a large crowd to the square.

In contrast, some Zionist Union MKs said the messages should be sharp and attack the government and the harm it is doing to democracy, even if the price is a smaller number of rally participants.

It is the first time since the assassination that the party is running the rally. The featured speakers are expected to be Herzog and Livni. The party invited public and cultural figures representing different political positions to speak, but the final speakers’ list has yet to be set. Similar to previous rallies, they are planning musical performances. Organizers distributed a pamphlet reading “Remembering, always” next to Rabin’s image.

Asaf Agmon and Chemi Sal, who produced the event in recent years, announced on Sunday that they had failed to raise sufficient funds for this year’s rally and were forced to cancel it. Shortly thereafter, Herzog announced that the Zionist Union would take it upon itself to produce this year’s rally.

At the same time, without regard to the rally, several Facebook event pages were opened calling on the public to come to the square Saturday night.

“There is no public budget. We will come without a budget,” declared one page called “Citizens coming to the square to remember Yitzhak Rabin.” “We will come to remember Yitzhak Rabin. We will come to stand up to violence and racism. We will come to demand advancing a deal with the Palestinians. We will bring a personal candle for a better future. We will all come – right and left, young and old, girls and boys, Jews and Arabs, religious and non-religious.” Thousands of people pledged to attend.

Another Facebook event page called “The people remember Rabin” stated, “We Israeli citizens will meet to remember Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.” It added, “The rally is not political, and it’s enough for every one of us to light a candle in his memory.”

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