Opinion

The Real Reason Yitzhak Rabin Is 'Turning Over in His Grave'

With such a worthless leadership on the Israeli left, the time has now come to put out this bonfire of the vanities

Zionist Union leadership at a meeting in July 2018.
Emil Salman

Miri Regev, who is called the minister of culture and sport, has enlisted the holy of holies to insult the Arab-Jewish demonstration held Saturday night in Tel Aviv.

“Rabin would have turned over in his grave if he had seen what happened in the square named after him,” mourned the minister, almost rending her garments. Regev only forgot why the square is named after the victim and why he is buried in the grave he is meant to turn over in.

>>Protests against nation-state law highlight sad truth about Israeli left | Analysis

Regev’s sensitivities to Rabin’s resting in peace in his grave is touching. She also thinks she knows how to land a swift kick in the folds of the left’s soft underbelly and give a resounding slap in the face of the child who shamed his father’s glory. But Regev’s cleverness comes too late. Kicking a ball of rags that’s falling apart requires no talent.

If Rabin has a reason to roll over in his grave it actually lies in the response from the Zionist Union: “Rabin would turn over in his grave if he knew that a person who incites like you was serving as a minister in the Israeli government,” said the childish statement. In other words, we know how to stick out our tongues too. Wonderful.

The Zionist Union, the challenged offspring of the Labor party, could have had a much more serious answer. Its leadership could have mentioned the establishment of the Arab caucus in the Labor party and the placement of Arab and Druze candidates in realistic positions on its Knesset slate in the 1992 elections, as well as the establishment of a coalition that was dependent on the five Knesset members of Hadash and the United Arab List, the coalition that passed the Oslo Accords.

At the memorial service for Rabin last year, Amnon Rubinstein told of how when he was energy minister he proposed to Rabin that he appoint an Arab as chairman of a government corporation in the Energy Ministry. Rabin’s answer was: “Well, why not? We want to open a new page of equality between us and Arab Israelis.”

Rabin did not hesitate to admit to the deep discrimination against Arabs and promised as well as acted to bridge the gaps. True, he is not preserved in the memory of many Arab citizens as a saint. They remember his order during the first intifada to “break their arms and legs,” but many more mourned his death. The Zionist Union could have explained all this if only they had not been suffering themselves from amnesia.

If Rabin is turning over in his grave it is because he did not see the chairman of the Zionist Union last Saturday night, the man with no character, Avi Gabbay, on the stage at the rally. Terrified and panicked by the Palestinian flags and a few nationalistic slogans, Gabbay fled into the darkness of nationalism, along with opposition leader MK Tzipi Livni and MK Omer Bar-Lev, from where they could take refuge in the warm embrace of Miri Regev, Minister Ofir Akunis and of course Benjamin Netanyahu.

They offered miserable excuses, on the verge of cartoonish. “I cannot participate in a demonstration in which they are talking about the right of return,” said Gabbay self-righteously. “Some of my colleagues from the Joint List are not partners in the view that the State of Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people,” claimed Livni. Bar-Lev had an original explanation: “The demonstration today is a partisan demonstration so it harms the protest against the nation-state law because it turns it into a partisan issue.”

Could it be that they did not participate in the rally because it was a “demonstration of Arabs?” Of course not. After all, they are in favor of equality, as long as this equality does not become a partisan issue, that they do not speak about the right of return and that all of the Arabs recognize that Israel is the Jewish nation-state. So why do they even claim they are against the nation-state law?

The rally on Saturday night provided an excellent wake-up call for those who still believed that a party without a spine, that has turned the phrase “Zionist Union” into a placard, is really an ideological alternative to the bulldozer that is burying in ashes the corpse of democracy. With such a worthless leadership, the time has now come to put out this bonfire of the vanities.