Labor Chair MK Merav Michaeli is turning the commemoration of the Rabin assassination into an all-out incitement against her two most prominent enemies on the right, Benjamin Netanyahu and Itamar Ben Gvir.
Since the 1995 Rabin assassination, the left has used the date of the repugnant act as a bulwark against its opponents on the right, most emphatically Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu. There have been attempts to run an ecumenical commemoration, with participants from across the political maps getting together to condemn the murder, but for the most part, it has been a left-only, and often Labor party-only event.
Last year, only Labor party office officials were invited, and the turnout was a shameful 400. It stung. So, this year, Labor party Chair Merav Michaeli decided to run a mega-ceremony, and because the assassination date, November 4, this year falls on Wednesday, one day after Israelis go to the polls next week, she decided to hold it Saturday night, October 29. The choice should remind many Israelis that the actual assassination took place on a Saturday night. She also decided that, since there are renovation works at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, where the murder took place, to hold the commemoration at Zion Square in Jerusalem.
If you are an Israeli who was old enough to watch the news in 1995, you associate Zion Square with the October 5 election speech by candidate Netanyahu, who spoke from the porch of a nearby building to a huge crowd that was dotted with “Rabin is a traitor” signs and posters showing the prime minister either wearing an Arab headcover or SS uniform. It was later discovered that a Shin Bet agent printed and distributed those repulsive signs, but no one on the left cares about those negligible footnotes.
In an interview this week with Ma’ariv, in response to why she’s loading a non-political commemoration of a beloved leader with so much politics, Michaeli said this convoluted paragraph:
“The assembly is all-Israeli and very mamlachti (meaning it applies to all the citizens). It wasn’t pushed back. It is held every year either on the weekend before or after the date. The day of the murder is November 4, and the rally has always been held on the weekend before or after. We do it the weekend before. And I’m not avoiding it, I say unequivocally – this election brings into view the duo Bibi and Ben Gvir, and I think it’s important for the public to see in front of their eyes what this duo caused last time around – how their appalling successes also led to Rabin’s murder, and the price we have all been paying ever since is very heavy. They must not succeed again. The Labor Party is returning to Rabin’s way and in a big way, in all respects.”
The fact that the Labor chairperson is unaware of the multiple inconsistencies in the above paragraph suggests she was lying at too high a pace to notice. But she delivered the same point she hopes her Zion Square event will: Netanyahu and Ben Gvir were responsible for the Rabin assassination, don’t let them retake the helm because they’ll kill again.
“Michaeli’s dangerous incitement repeatedly crosses all kinds of red lines and makes me a target,” MK Ben Gvir responded. “It’s not for naught that the level of threats against me has increased recently and the Knesset guard has had to increase my security – because of Michaeli’s wild incitement.”
Ben Gvir added: “Michaeli sees the polls in which we climb to 15 mandates and she is pushed toward the threshold percentage, and she realizes that if we win the election – a right-wing government will be formed, that will repair the enormous damage she and her government have caused the State of Israel in the past year. [The incitement] won’t help her.”