The annual yahrzeit ceremony in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square has become pointless; it has lost its raison d’etre. The organizers’ fear and the warped political correctness they have embraced have completely erased the gathering’s significance.
From year to year, it has gotten worse. No one will be surprised if, at some future memorial, T-shirts are sold with the smiling visages of Yitzhak Rabin and Benjamin Netanyahu; the Yesha Rabbinical Council offers a prayer of thanksgiving; a panel debates “Rabin’s murder: pro or con” and the event ends with the audience singing Israel’s winning entry in the 1978 Eurovision Song Contest, the Hebrew gibberish song “A-ba-ni-bi,” its ending changed to mean “I love you Yitzhak.” This fawning nonsense has truly become pointless.
Still, we have to do something. After all, we promised. “We’ll neither forget nor forgive,” declared author Meir Shalev, and we joined the call.
Since then, people have forgotten and forgiven. Or, more precisely, causing others to forget and forgive.
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At first glance, there’s no shortage of memorials to Rabin: Rabin Boulevard, Rabin Highway (the official name of Route 6), Rabin Street, Rabin Junction, Neveh Rabin, Rabin Base and a plethora of other Rabins. In other words, the memory of Rabin the man, the fact that there was once a man by this name, has been effectively and lavishly inscribed in the public’s memory.
The problem is that most of the public remembers, or prefers to remember, that Rabin the man, the one for whom all these streets were named, had something to do with politics, maybe even the prime minister. Until one day he declared, in the way of decent prime ministers, “I cannot go on any longer,” and retired from public life until his death. Some say he died on his way to work. May his memory be blessed.
But there are (still) some who insist on claiming that the man was murdered. Shot in the back. Assassinated by a man with a pistol in one of the city’s squares. Seeing as none of the abovementioned memorials mention any such thing, however, it’s increasingly likely that within a year or two that version will become an urban legend spread by the New Israel Fund.
And so, in an effort to correct this distortion, I offer to the public (and perhaps also to Tel Aviv’s leaders) a small, symbolic gesture that I adopted quite some time ago. Perhaps it can make a modest contribution toward that matter of not-forgetting and not-forgiving. Around a year ago, perhaps a little more, I stopped calling the square where the murder occurred Rabin Square. I now call it Rabin’s-Murder Square. Always.
When taking a taxi, I tell the driver, “Rabin’s-Murder Square, please.” I arrange to meet up with people at the corner of “Ben-Gurion Boulevard and Rabin’s-Murder Square.” And sometimes, I even use a shortened form. “There’s a wonderful bakery at Rabin’s Murder. I adore their croissants.”
Everyone understands. And everyone remembers the murder. There’s no getting away from it.
That’s it. That is my proposal. It would be nice if other people who remember would do the same. And it would be even nicer if the authorities would help by officially changing the square’s name. No longer that vague Rabin Square, but Rabin’s-Murder Square. Explicitly.
But they ought to hurry up and do it soon. Because there’s no doubt that in another few years, the square will indeed be renamed, and in a festive ceremony, it will be rededicated as Yigal Amir Square.
After all, didn’t he have some connection to the square as well?