‘Time to lower the flames’: President Herzog calls for post-election social unity

Addressing the annual memorial in Tel Aviv for assassinated Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, Herzog challenged Israeli youth to proactively address social divisions.

By Pesach Benson, TPS

Israeli President Isaac Herzog called for post-election social unity while addressing a memorial for the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at the President’s Residence on Sunday.

Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995 following peace rally in Tel Aviv.

“Approximately half of today’s Israeli residents were not even born then. The candlelight youth who filled the square immediately after the murder have children in their teens today. And on the other hand, it seems that not much has changed, or not enough, when again and again alarming signs are revealed in Israeli society of incitement and escalation, of violence that eats away at the foundations of democracy,” Herzog said.

“Signs that point to a deep, fundamental difficulty in our ability to manage controversy, in our ability to overcome and navigate our country and our lives together, even in the reality of disagreement on the issues dearest to our hearts.”

Addressing the tone of political discourse after last week’s election, Herzog said, “Once again, accusations of treason were thrown into the air, and again comparisons to Nazis were heard. The public space and social networks were filled with dangerous violence. This is the time to lower the flames and show responsibility.

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“To the leaders of the Israeli public from across the spectrum, from the expected coalition and the expected opposition, I call and request: we have attacked enough, we have fought enough, we have cursed enough.

“We have an opportunity to conduct ourselves differently from now on. To remember that there is a way to share, poignantly, deeply, in a way that sometimes shakes us; but also with respect, with the understanding that we are all part of a whole, and that no one is going anywhere. Racism has no place among us, violence has no place among us.”

Herzog specifically challenged Israeli youth to proactively address social divisions.

“Your task should be to restore society in Israel, in all its parts. Ask to learn the opinion of the other, their lifestyles and beliefs; listen to each other; argue, but oppose violent language that disqualifies the other, even if he thinks differently than you or belongs to a different political camp than you,” the president said.

“Get to know the mosaic of opinions, religions, perceptions and beliefs that exist side by side in the Israeli space. Get to know the minorities in all their shades. Don’t be frightened by the lack of agreement, the differences. I implore you: grow us the model society we deserve.”

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Herzog was also due to address the state memorial at the Mt. Herzl Cemetery, where Rabin is buried.

The Rabin family announced it would not participate in any public tributes.

“Out of respect for the status and the democratic decision, and in order to safeguard the memory of the head of our family who was assassinated, we have decided to refrain from being dragged into the political cauldron these days and pass on making a speech,” said a statement issued by the family.