The Song Rabin Sang Before He Was Killed

The orchestrated attack by the right on the appropriation of Rabin's memory obliterates the fact that today too, the prime minister and Yahalom can participate in endless official ceremonies and condemn the assassination. Have they done so? Have the settlers held a single official memorial? According to a map of events published by the Rabin Center, the answer is no.

On the eighth memorial day for Yitzhak Rabin, the fourth bullet was fired, which was intended to kill the memory. The timing is not surprising. The awakening of the left is frightening rightist circles. The assembly of the defeated left at the square could have been tolerated, but a left that is sending out signals of hope is already a real stumbling block, and therefore, it needs to be silenced. This can be done by affixing labels of treason, as National Religious Party MK Shaul Yahalom did to the initiators of the Geneva accords; it is possible to do this by silencing Rabin Square as those who eulogized the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin in the Knesset tried to do. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) and Yahalom attacked the memorial at Rabin Square and the political tone that prevailed in the remarks of speakers there. "I also want to be at the square," chorused Knesset members, rightists and settlers. "I want to be there, but they're not letting me, because they mention the Oslo agreement that I hate and they sing `The Peace Song'."

President Moshe Katsav went so far as to suggest that the memorial day for Rabin's assassination and the anniversary of Oslo be separated. This separation would not allow saying why Rabin was murdered, and at most, it would be possible to note that during his final days, Rabin was involved with some sort of diplomatic agreement that we already mentioned in September. It would also not allow for the singing of "The Peace Song," which Rabin sang at the rally shortly before he was shot. The last picture from the square will not be shown any more because of the presence of Peace Now placards, the figure of (now Labor MK) Shimon Peres will be excised because he is the leader of the opposition, and of Rabin's final speech, all that will remain is the neutral sentence: "Violence gnaws at the foundations of democracy." There will be no mention of the incitement, but only of Avishai Raviv; no pictures of the violent demonstrations that preceded the assassination will be shown, but only cautious and courteous criticism of that agreement that we mentioned back in September, and Rabin will be scolded for having, during the course of that agreement from back in September, acted in an undemocratic way and for having failed to be considerate of the feelings of the settlers. Then the prime minister, masses of settlers, the Bnei Akiva youth, and right-wingers from all over the country will flock to the square. Only my friends and I, who were at the square at the moment of the murder, will not be there.

Those who were at the square on that terrible night of November 4 came because they believed in Rabin and in peace. Those who were there, and those who believe in the messages that emanated from that square return to it in anger and with longing in the desire to revive the moments of hope. I know people who go back there every year wearing the same shirt they wore on the night of the assassination with the stickers from that night still affixed to it, with the placards they were carrying that night, with their children who have already grown up, with their grandchildren who have been born since then. They come because the gathering at the square is their sad reunion. No one will take way from these people the hope, the memory and the square.

The official memorial day is marked on the Hebrew date, and in any case, it is separated from the square. At the official commemoration, officials speak - the prime minister, the Knesset speaker, a representative of the opposition. At such ceremonies, the official tone naturally prevails. There is talk of democracy, of self-restraint and tolerance and of the need for dialogue and agreement.

But there too, it is impossible to distort history. Rabin was not assassinated because he was in the Palmach, because he liberated Jerusalem, and because he was an excellent prime minister a loving husband and a warm grandfather. He was assassinated because of Oslo. He was assassinated because of the incitement. He was assassinated because those who are now standing on the official platform and talking about tolerance were silent at the time. From the pocket of Rabin's suit, stained with his blood, the words of "The Peace Song" and no other song were taken, and the last things he said were words of peace. This must be mentioned in the official ceremony. It is necessary to speak against incitement and to show the documentation of the terrible days of violence prior to the murder. It is necessary to show the rightist demonstration at Zion Square in Jerusalem and that demonstration at Rabin Square and not to conceal the signs in either of them. It is necessary to show the last pictures and not to blur Peres' face, and it is necessary to tell Rabin's life story that was cut off cruelly because of his faith in the Oslo process.

The orchestrated attack by the right on the appropriation of Rabin's memory obliterates the fact that today too, the prime minister and Yahalom can participate in endless official ceremonies and condemn the assassination. Have they done so? Have the settlers held a single official ceremony in memory of Rabin? According to the map of events that was published by the Rabin Center, the answer is no. The bitter truth is that the demand for official neutrality does not derive from a true desire on the part of the right to mark Rabin's assassination - they have every means of doing so today as well - but is rather an ugly attempt to silence the square, to place the limitations of official events on it, and to uproot its soul. This attempt will not succeed. Next year too we will be at the square; we will recall and remind and end with "The Peace Song," the last song that Rabin sang before he went down the stairs.