The annual Rabin memorial almost did not happen this year, as funding was short. It was saved by the Labor Party, which allegedly used the occasion to make political gains.
A crowd of roughly 50,000 packed Rabin Square in Tel Aviv Saturday night to mourn the death of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin exactly 21 years ago after he was shot at a peace rally by Yigal Amir, a right-wing extremist who opposed the signing of the Oslo Accords.
Despite the fact that Amir was an outcast and the murder was condemned by a horrified Israeli public across the political spectrum, the Israeli Left has since accused the Right of incitement.
Indeed, the memorial rally this past weekend apparently became a political event, and participants from both the Left and the Right expressed regret for having attended.
Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog, head of the left-wing Zionist Union, in his address at the event accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of remaining silent in the face of incitement.
“The hatred is the same hatred, the incitement is the same incitement and the leader is the same leader,” Herzog said in a tweet ahead of the event and again at the rally. Netanyahu was head of the opposition when the assassination took place.
“We can no longer allow anyone, neither a bully nor a leader, continue to incite — not a Knesset member, not a government minister and not the prime minister. All red lines have been crossed,” Herzog added.
Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, slammed Herzog, saying that his statement “was dirty,” Arutz Sheva reported. “Netanyahu never incited against Rabin. He opposed his views, definitely. But when protesters were calling Rabin a ‘traitor’, Netanyahu said: ‘He is wrong. He is not a traitor.’ Those are the facts. For 21 years you have been exploiting the murder in order to silence the right. It will not succeed.”
Following the rally, several attendees said they regretted having participated. Rabbi Benny Lau, who heads a prominent Orthodox community in Jerusalem and is the nephew of former Israeli Chief Yisrael Meir Lau, had urged the public to attend. After the event, however, he said he regretted it.
“I am sorry, it was a cynical political rally. Politics taking over the gathering is a disgrace,” he told Israel Army Radio. In a Facebook post that same evening, he said that the memorial event was transformed into a political rally for the Zionist Union and Meretz parties.
Tazpit Press Service reported that “activist Daphni Leef, who gained notoriety as the spokeswoman for the social protest movement in the summer of 2011, also voiced her dissatisfaction with what the Rabin memorial has become.”
“I came to [Rabin] Square,” Leef, who holds leftwing political views, wrote on Facebook. “I thought I would simply meet people to discuss the rifts in Israeli society, intolerance, and the significance of Rabin’s murder. Instead I arrived at an elections rally for Isaac Herzog and (former foreign minister) Tzipi Livni. Balloons that bore no messages, only names of political parties. I am fed up with politics and the cynicism upon which it is based.”
Government Coalition Chairman David Bitan, a Member of Knesset belonging to Netanyahu’s Likud party, stated ahead of the rally that the Rabin murder was “not a political murder,” but, rather, “it was a murder committed by a lone individual who wanted to stop the [peace] process.”
By: Atara Beck, World Israel News