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Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Day

From the Archive

Bible, Sages, the modern era and Zionism.

Literary sources and diverse poetry

Festival songs set to music

For celebrating with family and community

For educators, families, students and communities

> Background

Yitzhak Rabin (March 1, 1922 - November 4, 1995) was the first Israeli Prime Minister to be born in Israel. As a product of the "Sabra" generation, he studied at the Kaduri agricultural school and then joined the Palmach. In the Independence War he was in command of the Jerusalem region and led the breakthrough to the besieged city. In the Six Day War (1967) he served as the Chief of Staff and the planner of the victorious war. Between 1974 and 1977 he was first elected as Prime Minister of Israel. In 1992 he was elected for the second time in this position.


Right at the onset, Rabin's government began to lead peace talks with the Palestinians, Jordan and Syria. In 1994, the peace treaty with Jordan was signed. At the same time, the Washington talks and the Oslo process were conducted - as channels of negotiations with the Palestinians, whose ultimate goal was the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel and a peace agreement between the peoples.


The days of the signing of the Oslo II agreement (September 1995) were turbulent and violent. Waves of suicide attacks by Palestinian terrorists in Israel, which resulted in many deaths along with the mass slaughter of Muslim worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs by an extremist Jew. On the right side of the political map in Israel, and particularly in the settler circles, sharp opposition to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's policy and to the very legitimacy of his rule emerged, despite the fact that he was legally elected in democratic elections. In the right-wing demonstrations, signs bearing Rabin's picture in the uniform of an SS officer were displayed, and there were cries of "Rabin is a traitor," "With blood and fire, Rabin will be expelled," and "Death to Rabin." This was the case at a demonstration held at Zion Square in Jerusalem on the night of the debate on the approval of the Oslo agreement in the Knesset, in which the political leaders of the right, who abstained from putting an end to the incitement, also took part. Right-wing demonstrators tried to physically approach Yitzhak Rabin and even managed to hit his car. The public atmosphere in Israel prepared the ground for the assassination of the prime minister.


On the eve of November 12, 1995, a rally in support of the peace process was held at the Kings of Israel Square in Tel Aviv, with the participation of Yitzhak Rabin, entitled "Yes to peace, no to violence." At the end of the rally, when the prime minister approached his car, he was shot in the back three times at close range. He was taken to the hospital and soon died of his wounds. The murderer, a religious Jewish student named Yigal Amir, was caught at the scene and sentenced to life imprisonment. In his trial, his extreme right-wing worldview and the motive for the assassination were revealed - his desire to stop the progress of the peace process with the Palestinians

> The Story

The murderer did not act alone. His actions were preceded by waves of extreme incitement creating the public atmosphere that gave rise to the murderer's decision to act. These waves of incitement deviated from the accepted rules of political dissent within a democratic society and state. This incitement was not limited to opposition to the prime minister's policy but it sought to undermine the very legitimacy of his rule. It even gave way for his removal, when it declared him, in various and acute forms, as a "traitor" who was sentenced to death.


These political and social movements, based on incitement and murder, contradict the essence of the State of Israel as the manifestation of the Zionist vision. Zionism sought to bring about a change in the Jewish people, which would grow into a modern, sovereign, egalitarian and democratic nation. The act of murder undermines all of these principles. It is based on messianic, racist and violent ideas that seek to develop a society in this spirit.

> In Zionism

We must call upon all citizens of the State of Israel to accept the doctrine of Israeli democracy under any circumstances. We must remember the murder and the terrible incitement that preceded it in order to educate future generations towards a shared life that eradicate demonstrations of incitement, racism and violence. The State of Israel is still facing difficult historic decisions. We must create the social and moral ground that will enable us as a society and as a state to make these decisions.


On the day of the commemoration of the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, one should not be satisfied with the memory the victim alone. We must mention the murder that preceded it and its implications for the existence of a Jewish, democratic and humane society.


The phenomena of racism and violence are still present in the public sphere in Israel. The "price tag" events, as a striking example, are the kind of phenomena that must be vigorously and resolutely attacked until their ultimate termination. They grew up in the same terrible habitat where the incitement to the murder of Rabin and to murder itself grew. If we do not know today that we must oppose their existence, there's no knowing where the continuation of our common path will lead to.

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