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Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
February 1st, 2003, 16:30 pm. My family and I were all sitting in the car, on our way to visit long distance family members. This was supposed to be a big day: Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli Astronaut and an old family friend, was supposed to land at Cape Canaveral, along with six fellow Astronauts. Ilan Ramon's voyage to space was the most talked about topic in the Israeli media. We all followed Ilan and his family from the moment of the takeoff, through his videos from space, and the romantic song his wife dedicated to him from millions of miles away. We all saw him as a symbol of Israeli achievement. He was the one we all believed in, the one we were all united in admiring.
We all waited for February 1st, when Ramon would step out of the space shuttle, wave to the cheering crowd, hug his wife and kids, and return home a hero. Even while on the road, we did not want to miss the historic moment, and my father turned on the radio, where the landing was recorded and broadcast. I will never forget that moment when we realized something went wrong. I remember my mother starting to cry, and my father catching his breath. I remember me asking what happened, and slowly gaining the understanding that Ilan Ramon will not step outside of the shuttle, and won't be reunited with his family. I don't remember Ilan very well. I grew up with his son, Tal, as both families lived in a family-residence next to an Air Force base. Both our dads were officers in the Air Force, and worked together. Tal and I were good friends in kindergarten, and our ways separated when my family and I moved back to the city when I was six. A few years later, I remember my dad asking me if I remember Tal's father, and saying that he might become an astronaut. Since space was my main interest at that time, my dad said that maybe someday I could meet with Ilan and he would tell me all about space. In the meantime, the Ramon’s moved to the States, and both families drifted apart. But even though I haven't spoken to Tal in years, when Columbia had left the atmosphere, I bragged to the entire school that it is the father of one of my closest childhood friends up there…
When Ilan Ramon boarded the Columbia, he had become an Israeli hero, a symbol of success beyond imagination, a realization of a dream. February 1st, 2003, was meant to become an historic day for the state of Israel. That day was meant to be written as the day when Israel stepped out of its borders and left a mark on the world's history. That day did become an historic day, but one we would rather we could erase. In that moment when the countdown ended, and the clock started counting back up, that day turned from a day of excitement into a day of grief.
It's been ten years now, and Ilan Ramon's smile is still in our hearts. Ramon, and the six other astronauts that assembled the Columbia team are all heroes. They will always be a symbol of achievement beyond any imagination, a symbol of national and worldwide pride, and an inspiration. May they all rest in peace.
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January 31, 2013 | 11:47 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Earlier today, I came across this article from the New York Times. It referred to last week's incident involving Beitar Yerushalaim soccer club fans, who raised a sign reading "Beitar will be pure forever", in protest of the decision to bring two Muslim players to the team.
This incident was frowned upon, and treated very seriously, by both the Israeli media and the public. Many articles included interviews with Beitar fans who said that the claim that all Beitar fans are extreme racists is wrong, and that this group represents a small number of the team’s fans. Those extremist fans, in case you were wondering, were banned from future Beitar games.
In my opinion, the NYT article wasn't as balanced as I expect an article in such a respected newspaper to be. A certain paragraph in particular made me feel uneasy:
“People in Israel usually try to locate Beitar Jerusalem as some kind of the more extreme fringe; this is a way to overcome the embarrassment,” said Moshe Zimmermann, a historian at Hebrew University who specializes in sports. “The fact is that the Israeli society on the whole is getting more racist, or at least more ethnocentric, and this is an expression.”
In other words, the message this article was conveying to the NYT's large scale circle of readers was that Israelis, one and all, are racists: not that it was a small group of people, and that it is not a sad phenomenon which exists everywhere. None of the above. Just an inference from a gathering of several terrible stories of race-based violence coming from the Israelis.
Racism is a terrible phenomenon worldwide, which keeps growing in spite of the process of globalization. As people of the world are growing closer, small groups of extremists are becoming even more extreme. I wish it wasn't so, but it is. Israel is no different than any other place in the world. Racism exists everywhere, and it is aimed to all ethnic groups and religions. Just a couple of days ago London's Sunday Times' published a rather anti-Semitic caricature. Last night, I encountered a Palestinian Facebook group, calling to kill all Jews. Racism should have vanished from the world long time ago, but it hasn't, and I'm afraid to say it probably never will. Extremists everywhere will continue to hate in vain, and spread that hate. But as I said, extremists are everywhere, and so is racism. It is not an Israeli phenomenon, and not a Jewish phenomenon. It is everywhere.
This NYT article was offensive to me. I felt attacked, without the ability to defend myself. That being said, I can only hope that the readers of that article would realize there is an imbalanced atmosphere there, and won't come to hate us for supposedly being such a hateful nation.
January 17, 2013 | 11:31 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
On January 22nd, Israel will vote for its new Knesset, and choose the Prime Minister to lead it. Much unlike the American system, here, we have countless parties with countless ideologies to choose from. Behind the curtain, we will cast our ballot, and choose one party only. The person leading the party which will get the most votes, will become Israel's next Prime Minister. I asked some of my friends to tell me, and you, whom they are planning to vote for, and why. Some knew the answer right away, some are still struggling. Each day, I will post a different column with a different opinion. Take in count that this is merely a taste of all the parties competing for our votes. Today, Jonathan Howard will explain his choice of voting Ale' Yarok.
My vote goes to Ale' Yarok/ Jonathan Howard
The upcoming elections in Israel provide many interesting dilemmas for voters. Like the American Presidential debates, here too, parties confront issues of defense, the economy, religions’ rights, immigration, etc. I say this now, but up until a few years ago, both public discourse and party propaganda revolved very expressly around defense, and defense alone. This defined political “left” and “right” across the country, and was the main parameter by which people voted.
But in the summer of 2011, only a couple of months before “Occupy Wall Street” erupted in New York City, a similar protest ensued in Tel-Aviv, calling for economic relief for the middle-class and affordable housing. Over half a million people came to massive demonstrations, calling for change in the economy (Israel’s population is around 6.5 million). Since then, Facebook feeds, blogs, twitter accounts and the media have been filled with economic discussions, and parties have expressed their social and economic agendas much more vocally.
The Ale' Yarok (literally: Green Leaf) party is now running for the fifth time since its foundation in 1999, but to date it never received the necessary votes for it to enter parliament. Ale' Yarok was traditionally associated with the legalization of marijuana, and its members earned a reputation of “stoners” for it, but things have changed: Ale' Yarok joined up with The Liberal List, led by Yaron Lerman, and its agenda now includes legalizing drugs and prostitution (but fighting human trafficking); reducing the defense budget; shortening mandatory military service; opening up monopolized markets to competition; lowering taxation; separating religion and state; and in general – fighting for individual freedom of every Israeli citizen.
Almost mysteriously, there is very little to be said about defense: Ale' Yarok—The Liberal List supports a referendum in the case of peace agreements, but says little more. Surprising perhaps, but this reflects a change of view, looking at the economy and social conditions before arguing in favor of this or that defense policy. This is the only real liberal party in Israel!
I am voting for Ale' Yarok—The Liberal List, because I believe in human rights, and in a thoughtful liberal economy, allowing for prosperity, without crushing anyone in the process. I believe that fixing the economy is the most pressing need in Israel, and that this time – with the party’s new format and agenda, it will finally make it into Parliament.
Jonathan is 23 years old, a computer technician from Jerusalem, recently released from the IDF.
December 12, 2012 | 11:29 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
1. This year, as part of the international Holocaust Memorial Day commemorated on January 27th, a new song will be released too national radio stations in Israel. This song is a co-production of holocaust survivors and popular musicians in Israel. This initiative, called 'Insights' includes a production of a song, made entirely from Holocaust survivors' messages to the next generation.
The project was dreamed and organized by 22 year old Na'ama Winetraub, as a response to what she refers to as "indifference of the contemporary Jewish and Israeli generation to their grandparents' stories and insights from surviving the holocaust." Winetraub, born and raised in Israel, is herself a third generation to holocaust survivors. She is a B.A student in brain research, and works as a personal trainer. The idea for the project came to her mind during summer break, and since then, she has been working on this project in her spare time, and on a completely voluntary basis. "The kick off wasn't easy at all," says Winetraub, " I am not well acquainted with the Israeli music scene and what was simple and obvious to studio and production personnel, was completely new and unfamiliar to me. Finding survivors who would be willing to collaborate, was also quite a challenge. I got lucky when two of my trainees, Tal Segev and Ohad Ben-Avi, who come from the local music scene, decided to join me, also voluntarily."
If you too, know any holocaust survivors who would be interested in telling their story, Winetraub and her crew would love to receive their name and contact info, as well as 3-4 sentences with the insights they wish to share with future generations.
Even though the musicians and crew work pro-bono, the studio hours where the song is being composed and recorded, cost money, and the crew would like your help: tellers and donors who are willing to support this initiative may contact Naama at: email@example.com
2. Season two of The Israeli Film Festival on Public Television is on its way to national television in the US! All that's needed are your donations! The Israeli Film Festival on Public Television is a cultural documentary series, which serves as a cultural bridge between Israelis and Americans. The documentaries show Israelis of all backgrounds living their daily lives, as well as the very beautiful sides of Israel. What makes those Israeli documentaries special is that unlike many, they don't focus on any of the Israeli political conflicts.
Season one of the Israeli Film Festival on Public Television was a test run. The series featured three documentaries made by Duki Dror: My Fantasia, Raging Dove and The Journey of Vaan Nguyen. The films were released to all PBS stations in August 2010 and to date the films have aired 508 times on 68 stations in 42 markets covering 36% of U.S. Designated Markets including 52% of the Top 25 markets. These airings have garnered at least 2.5 million viewers. The majority of airings are in prime time and late fringe prime. These stats will continue to climb as the stations have the broadcast rights for one more year. The funding for the first season came from a grant from the Israel Film Fund of the Manhattan JCC and from personal investments of funding and labor from Cynthia Zeiden and Duki Dror.
Season Two will include thirteen, hour-long documentaries produced and directed by various Israeli Filmmakers. They will be offered through a national public television distributor and fed by satellite to all PBS stations in the United States. Each documentary will be given a three year broadcast rights period and PBS stations will be able to air them an unlimited number of times within that period. The series has an informational website with trailers for each film and local airdate information.
The goal of the project is to have the documentaries air on as many PBS stations as possible as many times as possible to gain the maximum number of viewers. In order for the creators of the project to have it aired, they need to raise 180,000$. This includes paying license fees to the producers of the documentaries, editing and formatting each for United States television broadcasts, closed captioning, satellite feed fees, public television promotional event, marketing materials and DVD mailing, a series website and the labor of the personnel to implement the project. Once all of the preparations are made, the duration of this project is three years. For further information and donation pledges, go here
December 5, 2012 | 11:30 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Last week, the U.N. General Assembly voted to ratify the Palestinian Authority's resolution to change its U.N. observer status from "entity" to "non-member state.” In my opinion, this decision did nothing except take the peace process backward another step. This resolution’s move toward the establishment of an independent Palestinian state came as a one-sided proposal, without Israel's consent. While standing on the General Assembly stage and telling lies about Israel, Mahmoud Abbas knew he was making some people in Israel very angry. When he was comparing Israelis to the Nazis and saying how badly Palestinians are treated (while Israel supports them with millions of dollars each year)- he knew he was playing a vicious, childish game. Mahmoud Abbas tried to hit on Israel's decision makers’ sensitive spots in order to elicit a reaction that would make Israel look bad in the eyes of the world.
I was sure that Prime Minister Netanyahu and his officials saw Mahmoud Abbas' true intentions. I knew that they would congratulate the Palestinians on-stage, and then maybe consider a mild, diplomatic response for their one-sided move off-stage, announcing that the peace process would be delayed until the Palestinian leadership is willing to have a mature discussion. But then, the Israeli government approved a plan for 3,000 new residential units in the E-1 area, between Eastern Jerusalem and Maale Adumin in the West Bank. The E-1 area is particularly sensitive, and building there sends a very clear message: "if you pull tricks on us—we’ll pull harder tricks on you." By doing this, Israel's decision-makers pulled us down to the other side's low level. We could have left the U.N. vote with a superior position if we had reacted diplomatically, with Israel's leaders asking to sit down and talk. This would have been the smart thing to do, no question. This approach would have been the most reasonable one, but for some very strange reason, Netanyahu took the approach of an eight year old.
This peace process, which many Israelis and Palestinians want, has sadly turned into a children’s game. Instead of a grown-up conversation, both sides get impatient and try to get back at each other, pulling pranks and calling names. Well excuse me, Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas- in this board game, your pawns are real-life people. In your little game, there are lives at stake. I, for once, will not tolerate my representatives in the Knesset making all the wrong decisions for me. You see, it's not only the U.S. State Department and several European leaders who are mad at Israel's reaction, but half the people in Israel are mad as well. I cannot bear the thought of watching people who promise to do what's best for the people of Israel leading us to a diplomatic oblivion. The childish game Netanyahu is playing has been causing a worldwide rage, and for what?! For the satisfaction of "getting back" at his nemesis? As an Israel citizen, it hurts me to watch this harsh criticism on my country. Now, Instead of criticizing Mahmoud Abbas for addressing the U.N without talking to Israel's leaders, and reminding the world of his true intentions of conquering all of Israel, newspapers worldwide deal with Israel's childish reaction, which basically told the world we don't care much about the U.N.'s decisions.
During operation Pillar of Defense, many Israelis and pro-Israelis worldwide worked very hard in order to keep people abroad aware of what truly occurred, and not what the foreign media decided to show. The efforts turned out to be very productive, and I can confidently say the operation ended with Israel's hand on top when it came to public support. Now, our trusted leaders threw our hard work into the trash. They turned around the public opinion, right when they had the chance to keep Israel in a positive light, in our relationships with foreign state leaders and their people. Since this is the case, I have one message for both Netanyahu and Abbas: Hey there, we are the little people you are playing with. For our sake, please remember your role as the people in charge of our wellbeing. So stop the nonsense, and try to make things better here. Thank you.
November 8, 2012 | 10:27 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
For the past few weeks my mind has been preoccupied. An event that occurred in my home town got me thinking on how mean can people be? And moreover- how mean can young people be? What makes a kid or a teenager, who didn't even get the chance to experience real life, own a heart of stone?
Two weeks ago, I got a phone call. On the other end of the line was the head of the municipal student council, which I am in touch with due to my work as a local reporter. "I just heard something and I wanted to know if it's true," she said. "I heard that a 16 year old girl from one of the high schools in town tried to commit suicide." She then told me that according to the story, being passed from mouth to ear, the girl got drunk one night about a year ago, and had a sexual encounter with two older kids. That night was filmed by one of them, and now he decided to share everything with his friends. The girl was then teased by her peers, and tried to end her life by swallowing pills. At the last minute, she was rushed to the hospital and was saved. The following day, what started as a rumor amongst friends, turned out to be truth and was covered by all newspapers.
I must admit when it came to cyber bullying, I was naïve enough to believe this was a phenomenon which is mostly fictional on such a destructive level. I was exposed to it mainly on American films and television series. A few weeks ago, I read the story of Amanda Todd, which was the sad approval of the worst outcome of cyber bullying. I wish this proof never existed, because when I saw it on the screen I could doubt its existence in real life. After all, television always takes everything out of proportion. Later I found out just how common this vicious act of teasing is in the United States. I read about more stories of such, with the worst kind of ending, and heard from my American friends about this phenomenon, which takes place mainly in high schools. Everyone who is a bit different, in any way, is doomed to a fate of bullying by his classmates. At that point, it seemed to me like an all-American phenomenon. It's not like I thought Israeli kids never take part or suffer from cyber bullying, but I realized the Israeli cyber bullying is on a much smaller scale.
The American approach towards high school is much different than the Israeli one. In the US, high school is a major part of one's life, and this four-year long experience can alter a person's life. In Israel, it is a lesser deal. For the Israeli students, high school is just another passing phase in life. It can have a positive tone for some, and a negative for others, but in no way it has any similarity to the American high school experience. Because of that, I believed cyber bullying, or any kind of bullying, is creating a destructive path mainly in the States. As it turns out, there are mean people everywhere, and have such a little clue of the power of their words. It is not an American phenomenon, it is a global phenomenon, which grows bigger and bigger as the World Wide Web develops. Nowadays, the "grownups" have very little control over their children’s online social lives, and many parents and teachers fail in tracking the online abuse before it is too late. Teenagers' and children's sense of sensitivity is very blunt. They feel like they can do whatever they want, and say anything that comes to mind. When they see someone or something different, they react, while being fully aware or their harsh words. We live by certain standards, and they know exactly when someone takes a wrong turn. Their mean words sting and burn and scar for life, and for some of their peers, this is too much to take. While there are young people who have the skin of an elephant, some are not capable of taking everything in. They sink and drown and feel too embarrassed and too scared to turn to an adult. As they keep taking punches, their peers continue their brutal attack, wearing out their "victim", until they win.
Only then, when it is too late to do anything, they realize their actions, and the school system and families step in. Talks, lectures, sometimes criminal charges- the system does anything it its power to bring justice, retroactively. I keep thinking how many lives could have been saved if mean words would be handled by the system as seriously as physical violence. Words are harsh, and when they are carved on a virtual wall for everyone to see, they are destructive. I probably would never be able to understand how people can be so mean. How can 16 year olds make their peer be willing to take her own life, when there is so much ahead of her? What is it about people that can make them show no solidarity or respect, and not fully realize their actions?
Words can kill, especially now, in the cyber age. It is so easy for a rumor to get out of hand, or an embarrassing video to spread throughout the world in a matter of minutes. There should be zero tolerance around children and teens for aiming mean words at someone else, and handling this should not be after an action that cannot be rewound has occurred. This phenomenon is spreading fast, leaving bodies behind. It is growing bigger and bigger and soon, it might become too big to handle. Now is the time to put an end to cyber bullying, which cannot be detected inside the schools. It is time for parents and teachers to be aware of the young people's after school online activity, and take more interest in the youngsters’ feelings and behavior outside of class. Now is the time for the educational system and parents, all around the world, to take another step forward in fighting cyber bullying. IT CAN BE STOPPED.
November 7, 2012 | 10:36 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Two weeks ago, when Jonathan Mann conversed with Israeli media and political science specialists on the upcoming U.S elections, the discussion revolved around the question: Why do Israelis care so much about the U.S election, and what is its importance to us? For an hour and a half, the group exchanged opinions and talked about the mutual influence Israel and the U.S have on one another. But while the discussion was very passionate, it mostly referred to political, financial and security aspects of this complex relationship. When I asked the members of the Israelife Facebook page what else would they like to read about regarding the Israeli perspective on the elections, one of the readers suggested I should write about the way the "average" Israeli feels about the U.S election: "In the US, both sides feel this election is a crucial turning point for the country, and will likely be following reports throughout the day very closely. Do Israelis feel the same sense of urgency? How closely will your compatriots be watching this election?" he asked.
Well, let me answer with a Facebook status my friend posted two days ago: "I wonder if the Americans care about the U.S election as much as we do." Well, we may not be as passionate about who is better in what policy, but I swear if you visited Israel last week, you would think you never left the States. In the week prior to the election, it seemed as if there is no important news from Israel: Newspapers' headlines gave interpretations, presented predictions, analyzed polls, and compared the enlightened U.S presidential debates to our non-existing ones. Moreover, news channels sent correspondents to Washington, Chicago and New York, to report everything that's going on there during the last week, By everything, I mean EVERYTHING, including visiting bars and asking customers for whom are they voting.
There were times when I wondered if my fellow Israelis really care that much about what's going on many miles away. I mean, I know everyone cares about the results. The future president of the Unites States is Israel's future ally, and we all know that and understand the importance of it. However, the past week made me ponder the small details that there is no reason for us to care about. Do we really need TV specials, satirical shows election specials, news broadcast specials, special newspaper editions? Turns out it depends on whom you ask.
Some of my fellow Political Science students find special interest in the U.S election because of its strategy and order and because it is the international symbol of Democracy. Some of my fellow Communication and Media students find particular interest in the election's media coverage. Some of my friends off campus find absolutely zero interest in the U.S election. Some make jokes on the overwhelming media coverage, and some had no idea when the Election Day is. One of the main jokers on the matter is my friend, Alex Zusmanovich, who wrote this Facebook status Tuesday night: "In just a few hours, 'Presidential Idol' will come to an end across the ocean. The lights will go off, the presentation explaining the electoral voting system to Israelis will go back to storage for four more years, Clint Eastwood will return to his house and embarrass himself there, the United States of America will wake up to the dawn of a new day (because this is what they always do there), and we will go back to deal with the real important issues of our local pond."
On the other side, there are those who stayed up all night on Tuesday (Israel time), and watched the live-update of the results. One of those people is a good friend of mine, Roee Snir. He is the Vice President of the Israeli model United Nations Society, and the Vice President of The Tel Aviv University Model United Nations Society. Soon, I'm sure, he'll be the Israeli Ambassador in the United States, so get ready. But until then, he got the once in a lifetime opportunity to watch the election at the U.S ambassador's residence here. He is following every single step of the American politics. This is his hobby and passion in life. He knows of every policy Obama and Romney ever adopted, and has followed their every move. In case you were wondering, he is supporting Obama. Tuesday morning (Israel time), he wrote: "This is it. The United States' citizens will cast their votes in just six hours. After following the campaign intensely, this is my last status on the subject. In spite of its many issues, the United States, to me, is still the best model there is for Democracy: stable, valuable, honoring the freedom of the individual. I want to see a Unites States where every man has the basic right for health insurance, where every woman earns the same wages as her male co-worker. I want to see a United States who does not give up to aggressive Capitalism, who gives women the right to have full control of their bodies. In those intense times, the model of "land of the free and home of the brave" should glow in the dark that drowns our small world whose people are drifting further away. It is good for the state of Israel and good for the Americans as well."
I go somewhere in the middle. I understand the importance of the election to our small country, and also understand our importance to the election. I find the media coverage, both here and there, in the States, quite interesting and sometimes fascinating. There are so many differences between the way the election process and the campaigns work in the two countries, and in the past couple of weeks I learned a lot about the American culture, which I take particular interest in.
There is a common saying that Romney is better for Israel than Obama. This makes the American-Israelis vote rate for him much higher. Many voices here rose, saying Obama is not a real partner for Israel, and that voting for him would be a disaster. To them I want to say that as much as we are important for the Americans (and especially to their President), as a strategic location and as an ally at a not-so-friendly area, we are not the issue that should tilt the vote here or there. It is true Israel was mentioned over 30 times during the debates, but we almost forgot this is not our election, but yours. I believe each person should get up and vote, and later make sure he put the right name for him or her on the ballot. I can only hope all of you did it, in fact. Right now, I can wish the elected president good luck, and to all of you, productivity and calmness for the next four years.
October 29, 2012 | 10:30 am
Posted by Noga Gur-Arieh
Yesterday, we mention the 17th annual Memorial Day for the murder of the Israeli Prime Minister, Izhak Rabin. Rabin was murdered by an Israeli, Jewish assassin, during an assembly for peace on November 4th, 1995. Moments after the end of the assembly, right after joining the massive crowd in a song calling for peace, Rabin was shot three times by Yigal Amir. Amir was one of many Israelis who did not see eye to eye with Rabin. Rabin took a very left-wing approach, and was willing to give a lot for peace with our neighbors. In 1994, he signed a peace treaty with Jordan, and won a Nobel Peace prize. A year before, he signed a peace treaty with the Palestinian organization- Ashaf. During that time, peace seemed closer than ever. The people were full of hope and put their trust in Rabin. However, at the same time there were also many people who believed his way is wrong, and accused him of bringing Israel to oblivion. The incitement against him included a comparison of Rabin to the Nazis and arranged photos of him wearing an Arabic Kaffyiah. Yigal Amir was one of those who found Rabin's ways wrong, and his solution for the disagreements he had with the Prime Minister was putting an end to his life. Everybody wept that day. People were devastated. I was only five years old, but I still have in my mind the image of my mother watching television and suddenly starting to cry. Yigal Amir was imprisoned for life, and it seemed like the slight chance for peace was buried with Rabin's body. But while some people disagreed with this statement, we all knew one thing for sure- on that day, Democracy had died.
Every year since, we mention the day of Rabin's murder nationwide. Ceremonies are held at schools, IDF bases, and in almost every city. Every year, people went on the stage and talked about Rabin and his legacy, and speeches were made about democracy, respect, and solidarity. However, in the past couple of years, a disturbing thought made its way to my mind, and it is refusing to let go- this day has lost its true meaning. At first, this day was named "The Memorial Day for the Murder of Izhak Rabin." But as the years passed, and children who did not know the man filled the schools, it slowly changed to "The Memorial Day for Izhak Rabin." I noticed the name change as I was going through my calendar. My eyes read the sentence, while my brain suddenly noticed the change. Ceremonies gradually dropped the discussion about the actual event, and dedicated more and more time to talking about Rabin, the person, the politician and the family man. Every year, children listen to speeches glorifying Rabin, calling him a "warrior of peace" and a "true hero." I see several problems with that: First of all, not everyone agreed with Rabin then. He might have brought us closer to peace, but many people still do not see him as a "hero" or as a glorified person and found his way to bring the peace- wrong. Those people are then left speechless when their child comes home from school telling them about Rabin.
Second, those kids do not care about the person as much as the children of the 1990's. They did not know him, and usually get bored while their teachers are going on and on about Rabin's many achievements. I've been to this year's ceremony in an Elementary school, and I can sadly but surely say- it was boring. It hadn't changed since I was in high school. Those kids would hear the same texts, same songs, and same speeches for 12 years of the educational system. I believe that this day can be put to a much better use, while shifting the attention back to something relevant to all people, young and old - the murder of a person, based on political disagreements.
This brings me to my third and final point: A Jew killed a Jew. An Israeli killed an Israeli. A person killed another person, just because he thought he was wrong. This is what the new generation, who did not know Rabin, must carry with them from this day. The political opinions in Israel are more varied than satellite channels, and are spread on a very large scale, from right to left. We would never be able to agree on that, but this is one of the things that make our little country so colorful and special. The one thing we can agree on is: Thou Shalt Not Murder. Each and every person has the right to express his opinion in public, and the only way to quiet him or her is only by speaking louder.
Not everyone agreed with Rabin, but everyone cried that day. We must remember and commemorate that day as the Memorial Day of the Murder of our Prime Minister, and not let the true message get lost on the way.