A couple of weeks ago I attended the 11th annual rally to commemorate Yitzhak Rabin’s memory. The memorial took place at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv; The square was previously named “Israel’s Kings square”, and was renamed after his assassination.
The impact of the assassination over the Israeli society has been compared to that of the Kennedy assassination in the US. I certainly believe so. The assassination gave birth to the so called Candles Children. I was just finishing my boot-camp in the army at that time, so I spend all my time running in the mud instead of lighting candles at Rabin Square, but those kids are essentially from my generation.
This rally was the first grand event of political importance that I had a chance to attend since I moved back, and I was looking forward to it. I was looking forward to a sweep of nostalgic feelings, and perhaps for something that would reaffirm my feelings about politics in Israel.
(I have always been on the left side of Israel’s political map, but the damn map keeps changing :) My ideology hasn’t changed a bit in the last 8 years while living in Canada, but the political representatives keep getting worse and worse)
I didn’t find exactly what I was looking for, but it was still a very interesting experience.
The crowd consisted mostly of teenagers who came for the music. It’s no secret that the annual rally is an opportunity to gather an impressive line-up of singers. Most of the people in the crowd came for Ninet (link in Hebrew) and Aviv Gefen (link in Hebrew). Nonetheless, the crowd was mixed, and there were older people around as well. I even spotted a retired couple, who hugged and cried during Dalia Rabin’s speech.
I find two events during the memorial particularly worth noting here. First, Amit Farkash, who, in my mind, is becoming a symbol (link in Hebrew) of the last war in Lebanon, sang her song in memory of her brother Tom, who died during the war. You can read the words here (link in Hebrew), and even listen to it here.
Second, David Grossman, a prominent Israeli novelist and peace activist, who also lost his son during the war, was the keynote speaker (full text in Hebrew here, in English here). He once again demonstrated that he is not only a gifted writer, but also a gifted speaker. He very eloquently captured the public mood in Israel, and expressed the problems that we are experiencing and the difficulties that we are facing. He heavily criticized the present government, and he said, among other things (translation by Haaretz, emphasis mine):
How did this happen? When did we lose even the hope that we would eventually be able to live a different, better life? Moreover, how do we continue to watch from the side as though hypnotized by the insanity, rudeness, violence and racism that has overtaken our home?
One of the most difficult outcomes of the recent war is the heightened realization that at this time there is no king in Israel, that our leadership is hollow.