President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday lit the “Ner Yitzhak” memorial candle and spoke at the official ceremony marking the 23rd anniversary of the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The event, held at the President’s Residence, was attended by members of the Rabin family, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset MK Revital Sweid, Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel and students from the Beersheba Bilingual School.
“In the 23 years that have passed since the murder, we have been through difficult times,” President Rivlin said. “Wars and contentious political initiatives. Each time, and despite the polarization of views, we have avoided terrible moments like this.
“Have we healed? I am not sure. I do not know. It is possible that our generation – the generation that knew Yitzhak, the generation that followed him into battle as a commander of the Palmach, as commander of the Jerusalem sector and the Harel brigade in the War of Independence, the generation that knew him as commander of the IDF in the Six Day War and heard his speech from atop Har Hatzofim in Jerusalem, the generation that saw the first sabra as prime minister in his first premiership, the generation that saw the ‘turnover’ of his second administration – that our generation, that saw how a base murderer, coward and criminal, who shot him in the back, will never heal.
“That generation will never forget, and never forgive. Will surely not forgive itself. And we, we are that generation. The generation on whose watch the murder happened. The generation that saw the sights, the generation that heard the voices, the generation that did not read the writing on the wall. But, the truth is that the challenge is not our generation, but those that come after us.
“Day by day, the generation that did not know Yitzhak grows. The generation that did not itself see the dark slippery slope from incitement and hatred to bloodshed. Children and young people who have grown up and were born and immigrated over the last twenty or thirty years, the leaders of our tomorrow, did not know Yitzhak. And did not know the murder.
“And the truth is that something is not working. Because each year we make speeches and hold ceremonies and yet we see the erosion of the centrality of the murder and what it means in Israeli public discourse. We are still struggling to pass on ‘Ner Yitzhak’ (‘the light of Yitzhak’), the torch of memory from that terrible night. I fear that ceremonies and speeches will not help so long as we cannot agree what it is that we want to remember.”
President Reuven continued, “The murder of Rabin divides us into tribes and camps. 23 years after the murder, it seems to me that there is no alternative but to say: every one of us can remember Yitzhak Rabin the man and the leader in his own way, but we must agree that we want to remember the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin together.
“And that agreement must be expressed in real actions in schools in all four streams of education, in the various youth movements, in national institutions and ceremonies. The memorial day for the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin could be the only day in the Israeli calendar that is shared by all the tribes of Israel. We have an opportunity and a duty to light ‘Ner Yitzhak’ on this day, the memorial light of a prime minister who was murdered, in every house in Israel.”