Yitzhak Rabin's Murder Was, Indeed, Political

After 22 years, it’s time for the peace camp to grow up and understand that ignoring reality never pays and that cowardice doesn’t attract crowds - not to a rally and not to a voting booth

A rally commemorating the 21-year anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's assassination in Tel Aviv, November 5, 2016.
Moti Milrod

The organizers of the rally marking the 22nd anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin did well to heed criticism from the left and add the word “murder” to ads for the event, to be held in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday night.

Still, there is a need to correct the mindset that led Darkenu and Commanders for Israel’s Security, which are organizing the rally this year for the first time, to omit the words “murder” and “peace” from the original announcement. Every word in the advertisement reeks of an attempt to depoliticize Rabin’s murder, and not just in the words that were omitted. “We are one people” says the headline. “On November 4, we will stand together, all Israelis from all corners of the country, and we will strengthen the unity of this nation, moderation and Israel’s secure future.” For anyone who missed the message that the intent is to hold a nonpolitical rally, the organizers took care to note in their invitation that this year it will take place “without the involvement of political parties or speeches by incumbent politicians.”

No one contests that we are “one nation,” but Rabin was not murdered because he doubted that fact. Rabin was murdered because he sought peace between us and the Palestinians, and because he recognized what increasing numbers of Israelis prefer to ignore: The price of peace is relinquishing the occupied Palestinian territories. The seeds of depoliticizing Rabin’s murder were sown right after his murder, when Israeli society preferred to answer the calls of Tzav Pius, an organization dedicated to bringing together the different groups in Israeli society, while ignoring the main political conflict that is tearing society from within, a rift that was the underlying cause of the murder.

“Rabin’s murder doesn’t belong to the left-wing camp and its lessons should belong to the entire nation” said Darkenu founder and CEO Polly Bronstein, deflecting criticism. But what is the nonpolitical lesson to be drawn from Rabin’s murder, and what is its value in a society that is politically riven to its core? From the perspective of 22 years, one can clearly see that that the apolitical nature of Tzav Pius has only served the right-wing annexationist settlers, helping them deepen their hold on Palestinian lands, on budgets, on senior positions in the army and the government, thereby controlling the course this country is taking.

At the same time, the peace camp has dwindled and become impoverished. The “architects of Oslo” have been rebranded as the “criminals of Oslo,” and a growing number of members of the religious Zionist camp believe that the sentence of the real Oslo criminal, the murderer Yigal Amir, should be commuted. After 22 years, it’s time for the peace camp to grow up and understand that everything is political, that ignoring reality and looking inward never pays and that cowardice doesn’t attract crowds, not to a rally and not to a voting booth.

The above article is Haaretz's lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel