Forgetting the Real Yitzhak Rabin

The day they decided to memorialize Rabin, they already began to forget his message about peace.

Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid
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Youth groups mark 19 years since Rabin's assasination at a second memorial rally at Rabin Square, Tel Aviv. November 8, 2014.
Youth groups mark 19 years since Rabin's assasination at a second memorial rally at Rabin Square, Tel Aviv. November 8, 2014.Credit: David Bachar
Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid

In my dream he is sitting on a comfortable armchair and smoking, where I saw him last. His face, as always, reveals his hesitation: To ask or not to ask. “Tell me Yossi, maybe you remember why and for what I was murdered, since I am already completely confused. They don’t watch television here; only in Hell do they allow it. Only on my memorial day am I allowed to listen to the speeches. But I listen to what they are saying and don’t recognize myself.

“Sometimes it seems to me that I was murdered by Arab rioters when I studied in the Kadoorie Agricultural High School. Or hotheaded Revisionists after I thwarted the Altalena plot. Or as the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff during the Six-Day War, when I returned the Western Wall from archaeological history. They didn’t murder me for being the prime minister of Israel who pursued peace, and for which they haunt me. Explain to me, why it is impossible to create a fixed story after 19 years, and why does every seeker of strife or warmonger pretend to be my heir and use my name?”

The slain Israeli Prime Minister Yizhak Rabin. Credit: Yaron Kaminsky

I’ll tell you the truth, Yitzhak: I don’t have a good answer for you. I am confused, like you. After all, your murder was never investigated. The land covered up your blood from the very first minute. Politicians and rabbis who abandoned you to the killers were absolved of any guilt, since the government and the Shin Bet security service were not really interested in following the footsteps – who knew where they would lead?

The city elders washed their hands of it – “Our hands have not shed this blood,” as the Bible says [Deuteronomy 21:7] – and one hand washed the other. They convicted the shooter, Yigal Amir, and acquitted all those who painted the target for him. And the 1996 election campaign ran normally, as if it was not known who hit you, and as if the sacrifice was accepted.

I myself made a mistake when I sponsored the law for your memorial day. At the time, I never imagined it would be dedicated to all manner of things – for “democracy and violence”; “the culture of political debate” – only not for you and your peace. It would have been better without a law, and whoever felt the need to remember you as you were could do so out of identification with your path, without becoming angry and taking a detour along the way.

Who would have believed that the “younger generation,” which never knew you and your actions, would actually strive for an imaginary common denominator based on false unity? And who would have believed that the law would grant another microphone and balcony to those who walked behind your coffin?

From the day they decided to memorialize you, they began to forget you. They may talk a lot about the incitement that occurred, but never a word about the inciters – the “children of the unnamed.”

Now we have a new president who, like his predecessor, launders words. The accounting that was forgotten in the suit pocket was erased in the laundry, and it is no longer possible to check over it. “We kept silent then,” said President Reuven Rivlin at the assembly, “we cannot be silent today.”

No, no! We did not remain silent: Benjamin Netanyahu opened his lips. And Ariel Sharon and Rehavam Ze’evi opened their mouths. As did many other evil people, who with “blood and fire” expelled and also inherited. Now you understand why I do not participate any more in these rallies, since I am still not willing to forget.

The president also said, “It is forbidden to remain silent today; silence that means we have given up on the dream.” No, your honor, it is not just the reality of our lives that divides us; our dreams also divide us. Your vision – the complete, greater land of Israel – is not our vision of the future, which is to be at peace with ourselves. That is why it is impossible to patch together the current schisms with just good intentions, as long as a Mount in Jerusalem hangs over our heads.

“The next murder is just a matter of time,” they prophesize darkly, since the precedent paid off before and the violence is only increasing.

But don’t try to scare us. They murdered Yitzhak Rabin because they knew that what he said was what he believed; that his intentions were completely serious. Why waste three bullets on people who have stopped being people, who sit and do nothing, and do not even intend to do something – not even to lower the price of frozen chicken.

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