Yitzhak Rabin’s memorial day was held in Israel about a week ago, and every year around this time the question arises – “how do we remember his legacy, his murder and the incitement that led to it?”.
Rabin was murdered 21 years ago in a peace rally to which 15,000 people attended. Since then a very big part of the remembrance of him was a yearly peace rally. It is held in the same place where he was murdered which is now called “Rabin Square” and is partially funded by the government. What makes this rally unique is that among many people that go, youth movements are also very involved. As part of being in a youth movement, both Noga and I have attended this rally several times before.
This year was the 21st memorial day for Rabin and because of that the 20-year-long Rabin Memorial Day Act has expired, which means there is no official memorial day. On top of that, this year the government has decided not to fund the rally anymore. As a result, not enough budget could be raised in order to have the rally- and it was cancelled. Which means this year for the first time in 21 years – there was no official ceremony\ gathering in honor of his memory.
These shocking acts that erase the memory of Yitzhak Rabin and his assassination lead us to a very difficult question- “Did we learn anything from the murder?
On the background of signing the Oslo Accords, acute incitements against Rabin himself started arising. Big violent rallies were held, signs showing Yitzhak Rabin in nazi SS uniforms and as an arab terrorist were held, photos of him were burnt while people chanted in the background “Death To Rabin”. Some will say that these were just the extremists, but many of the major politicians today lead those rallies, including our current prime minister.
Today the incitement continues, so what have we learned?
During the latest elections the use of fatalism and incitement was the main strategy used by both major parties. For example slogans reading “It’s either US or HIM” and “Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls”.
In the past few years the use of the word traitor has become a common name, used for anyone that has the courage to criticize any sensitive issue. It is so common that the chair of the כנסת allowed himself to call for the revocation of citizenships from citizens who are Human rights activists.
These examples show that the incitement wasn’t something that ended with three gun shots in 1995. It is a phenomenon that is continuing, growing and is worldwide today- as you can see even from the US elections this week
However there is also a majority of people fighting against the incitement. The peace rally in memory of Yitzhak Rabin represented them. Now for the first time in 21 years, we have to find different ways to remind ourselves how dangerous incitement and political violence can be for our democracy.
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