Opinion |

Real Leftists Won’t Go to the Ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin

The Labor Party is putting together the event, but that party is in cahoots with Benjamin Netanyahu and the right-wing parties that don’t care about the occupation.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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People hold up a cutout of a peace dove at Rabin Square during a rally marking 20 years since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in Tel Aviv, October 31, 2015.
People hold up a cutout of a peace dove at Rabin Square during a rally marking 20 years since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, in Tel Aviv, October 31, 2015.Credit: AP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

There’s absolutely no reason to go to Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday for the annual memorial for Yitzhak Rabin. There’s no reason to go to this event, or any event, organized by the Labor Party. There’s no reason to go to the square that has been protest-free for decades. There’s no reason to go to a gathering described as “nonpolitical” and feel good by declaring “We were in the square.”

Rabin Square on Saturday will once again be the square of self-righteousness, hypocrisy and catharsis. There’ll be a bit of singing, a bit of “Oy that Netanyahu,” a bit of communal mourning for the evil situation then home, tired but happy. So there’s no reason to join in.

The ceremony for the prime minister who was murdered can be held in the cemetery. Mount Herzl’s Great Leaders of the Nation section is large and official enough to hold a memorial ceremony. For 21 years we've been gathering in the square to sing Aviv Geffen songs, see Yair Lapid and claim that it’s a rally for peace.

This is hollow. Except for one memorial ceremony, on the 11th anniversary in 2006 with David Grossman’s “hollow leadership speech,” these events have been hollow. It’s just like the “candle children” after Rabin’s death who started all this kitsch. Since the protest of the 400,000 during the first Lebanon war, it has been 34 years since there has been a protest in the square. There won't be another on Saturday night.

The Labor Party has lost its moral right to lead any protest action. And it has a chairman who has given new meaning to the word pathetic. “Today I gave an important speech,” Isaac Herzog wrote this week in his high school diary, his Facebook page.

And then there are the Knesset members who entered the legislature brave and impressive and turned cowardly and silent after they passed through this accursed party’s opportunism mills. Nothing of importance remains of Labor’s public standing. It has declared itself non-left and has given up its role as the main opposition.

The memorial for Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv, November 3, 2005Credit: Reuters

We have to recognize it: Israel has no opposition, no alternative, no left and no peace camp. Except for the Joint List of Arab parties, Meretz and a few courageous NGOs, everyone is on the right. Everyone is Benjamin Netanyahu, everyone is Avigdor Lieberman, everyone is Naftali Bennett, everyone is a settler, everyone is Amona. And the Labor Party is part of this too.

That’s why there’s no significance to the ceremony Labor is organizing. The party that remained silent during the lynching of Breaking the Silence and Hagai El-Ad isn’t a freedom fighter or democracy supporter. A party that’s trying to crawl into the government is part of the government. Most of the people who show up on Saturday will certainly have a firm opinion about the government. What does that have to do with Zionist Union, of which Labor is the main partner?

We must not go to a ceremony that peddles the false picture that there’s a significant anti-occupation camp in Israel. When almost every day the army and Border Police execute desperate young men and women carrying scissors and knives, this square remains empty. When every night the Shin Bet security service and army abduct dozens of Palestinians from their beds, this square remains silent.

When hundreds of prisoners sit in Israeli prisons without trial, this square is silent. When Israel holds dozens of bodies of Palestinians and does not return them to their families, this square is empty. And now people are coming to the square?

To remember Rabin it’s enough to light a candle in the window. A rally whose organizers declare “nonpolitical” when everything is political is doomed to failure. It’s cowardly and unnecessary.

What will be the ceremony’s message? Against murdering prime ministers? A call for reconciliation? Or maybe Goodbye, Friend?

Twenty-one years after Rabin’s murder, it’s no longer possible to wallow in the crazy idea that his murder “murdered peace too.” Peace was murdered with or without Rabin because Israel didn’t want it. It never seriously wanted it because it includes the end of the occupation, which it has never agreed to give up. No ceremony will change that.

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