Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated 19 years ago by an Orthodox right-wing Jew extremist for his opinions, peaceful ones if I might add. I say peaceful because it was literary a set of agreements which aimed to create a Palestinian interim self-government and a withdrawal of the IDF from parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank.
This Saturday, the 1st of November, an EMIS friend and I and over 5000 Israeli citizens went to the Yitzhak Rabin 19th memorial rally in TLV. It started by playing the announcement of his death followed by the crying sounds of people that lost not just a leader, but also the illusion that a Jew will never kill a Jew. The host of the rally was Yael Abecassis, an Israeli actress and model. She was supposed to host the original rally with Rabin but, as I found out from her speech, she was afraid.
The first speaker was Mr. Shimon Peres (Israel’s Minister of foreign affairs during Rabin’s time). We EMIS students have already heard him speak on the opening ceremony but I can assure you that this time it was not the same. He was very passionate and you could, with no doubt, see how personal this topic is to him, how much he loved Rabin. I heard his voice break for several times and then saw his struggle with his tears. He was asking the Israeli government to return to their senses (“the conflict is managing us”, “What is your solution? Tell me! My question was left hanging. It has been years now that I listen without an answer”, “values are not less important than property”, “Israel can be a lighthouse of productivity”), but more importantly, he was asking the Israeli citizens to return to their senses (“He who is desperate from peace is the hallucinatory one”, “chasing peace is a mitzvah!”, “It is better to have peace which is not perfect rather than a total conflict which is not perfect”).
In between speeches Israeli bands were performing. They were there to give the audience a small pause from the information given and from the pleading of political figures for change. Of course each performance tried to shade on the problem throughout their lyrics. One that struck me the most was the song “My Baby Boy” by theAngelcy- “my baby boy is in the army of disbelief… we are a natural disaster, shake, mama, shake your head”. I was standing and trying to stop my tears. They were there from the beginning because it is hard for me to comprehend the reality of a nation asking for change for so long now- women who are trying to have more power (Women Wage Peace movement), Chairman of the Eshkol Regional Council asking the government to defend the people in his region (Eshkol is located next to Gaza and so they suffer the most during times of war) and desperate people holding signs saying “stop the next war” under the rain.
What I liked the most about the rally was the general tone that the intellectual political figures used. They were trying to show respect to the current Prime Minister, even though most of the people had left winged opinions, shouting slogans such as “Bibi go home” (Bibi= Binyamin Netanyahu).
They were trying to overcome this resentment obstacle and, instead, present their own idea of how to achieve the peace they long for, asking Netanyahu to be brave and to enforce a change. Some asked him to resemble Rabin more, meaning be courageous in the battles he picks to fight.
I left the rally feeling extremely positive. Being in a place like EMIS is very problematic- you feel hope towards a better future but due to the high expectations, this hope can be easily shattered every day over and over again. The words and ideas made me feel motivated and excited; I am genuinely curious about the possibility of a change in Israel.
“Do not say a day will come, bring the day.” -Yitzhak Rabin
Written by Ma’ayan Agmon
Edited by Maria Tirnovanu