A mere 10,000 people gathered for the annual memorial rally for Yitzhak Rabin at the location where he was assassinated 23 years ago. While for some reason Israelis still hold out hope of this being an event that fosters unity, the fact is that, apart from lip service, it has never been about mending Israel's national divide.
This year's rally was supposed to be different, but right from the start it was clear that it wouldn't be.
Organized by Darkenu, a supposedly benign non-partisan organization, this year's rally promised to deliver a strong message "against division and incitement." But Darkenu, which claims to be the largest "moderate" civil movement in Israel, is, in fact, a front for American NGOs interfering in Israeli politics. According to Adv. Adi Ben Hur, Darkenu is comprised of of One Voice and V15, two foreign NGOs that during Israel's 2015 elections did what the Russians are accused of doing during the Trump-Clinton presidential campaign.
To demonstrate its "moderate" nature, Darkenu invited a single right-wing figure, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), despite the fact that the right represents a clear majority in the Jewish state.
Hanegbi, who himself was harshly critical of the 1993 Oslo Accords over which Rabin was ultimately assassinated, was booed during his entire speech. Nevertheless, while Hanegbi condemned Rabin's assassination in no uncertain terms, he said that he remains proud of strongly opposing the Oslo Accords.In the intricate Israeli discourse, Hangebi's agreeing to expose himself to a hostile crowd marks a change that is taking place within the right-wing camp, which is shifting from an apologetic to a non-apologetic footing.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, a former Likud member who back in 1996 likewise criticized the Oslo Accords as being a "doomed agreement," was anything but kind to her former colleagues. "History repeats itself," she said without hesitation. "It is enough to read the Prime Minister's posts [referring to Netanyahu's social media activity], to watch the videos, to listen to the speeches, to read the violent talkbacks, and to blame anyone who thinks otherwise. Whoever is working for peace is not a traitor, it was true then and it is true today." It is true, according to Livni, that Netanyahu incites for another political assassination.
Tamar Zandberg, head of the extreme-left Meretz party, also did not hold back. Netanyahu, she said, has "turned incitement into a central tool to keep the peace camp submissive, controlled and shattered. He uses it to make sure that … the legacy of peace will remain deep in the grave."
It's little wonder that in the wake of the rally, Netanyahu responded with a tweet reading: "It is unfortunate that the memorial ceremony for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin became a political gathering. Those who have freedom of expression in their throats try to silence anyone who disagrees with them."