Jewish Journal

What happened to Rabin’s memorial day?

by Noga Gur-Arieh

October 29, 2012 | 10:30 am

11/4/1995- remember the day Democracy died. Never let it happen again.

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.

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My name is Noga Gur-Arieh, and I’m an Israeli Journalist, currently studying for my B.A degree in Media and Political Science, at Tel Aviv University.

I am very socially...

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