Missing the action


Part II in the 20 yrs from Rabin series

It takes one to tango?

Saturday night’s 20 year commemoration of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination left me with so many ideas that I want to express that Five Minutes for Israel will need to divide them into two or even three posts.

Who was missing in Kikar Rabin? The Palestinians but that’s that’s OK. They don’t matter if we are to have peace. 🙁

Mahmud Abbas

Mahmud Abbas
Out of sight – out of mind

The elephant in the room

To my mind the one who was most conspicuous by his absence was Palestine Authority President, Mahmud Abbas. Has the P.A. ever sent anyone to represent them at this event?

I don’t just mean purely his physical or even his televised absence. Conceptually he wasn’t there. Totally absent from the minds of all the speakers and judging by posters, balloons and paraphenalia, all the crowd.

Although there were brief gestures to what the Israeli media are dubbing the Wave of Terror no one thought to connect it with the official incitement coming from the Rais, the P.A. schools, media and mosques. Certainly no one thought to connect it with the Palestinian terror of twenty years ago that was the real derailment of Oslo. Who would have thought ‘denial’ was what was meant when the Israel Haters claim from the River to the Sea†?

On the contrary. Peace to be achieved by Israel – ALONE

One speaker, Yonatan Ben-Artzi, grandson to Yitzhak, even called, to some applause, for immediate Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state, without preconditions. More than ignoring the Palestinian failure to work for peace, for Ben-Artzi and at least some of the crowd, what the Palestinians think, say and do is irrelevant. Talk about the racism of low expectations.

While I have no doubt that President Bill Clinton was totally sincere, something I can’t say with any confidence about the current incumbent who said similar, his call was aimed only at Israel.

No, Mr. Clinton, it is not up to Israel. It takes two to tango and Israel made the choice for peace from the very beginning. You, indeed, none of the speakers, chose to say to the Palestinians and the absent Abbas, Tell your people to stop stabbing Israelis. Peace comes when both sides stop war.

On the M.I.A. list

This was the first time in a decade that I joined the crowd at Kikar Rabin despite my huge and frankly irreversible reservations over Oslo. Last night, however, under some pressure, I attended the twenty year commemoration.

A great part of my reluctance was the feeling that that this was a party for the Left. Huge sectors of Israel’s population were either ignored or worse treated as the enemy. Rabin had become a sectoral rather than national hero.

To their credit the organisers have made considerable but not notably successful efforts against this. The speakers were deliberately diverse and the claim was that this commemoration was apolitical. By some reports, former Israeli President Peres was asked not to speak for that reason. I personally found that a little odd. If President Rivlin, formerly of the Likud Party was apolitical (I agree) wasn’t multi-party Peres in the same category?

Yet if there were no Likud representatives or those of any party on stage what was Labor (does anyone seriously think of this party as the Zionist Union?) leader Issaac Herzog doing pressing the flesh, up there? His joint leader Zippi Livni was nowhere to be seen – was that because she is political?

What was former Prime Minister and Labor Party head, Ehud Barak doing up there?  Apolitical in retirement? Former Prime Minister, Likud prince, Kadima head and convicted criminal, Ehud Olmert? That might be asking too much.

On the other hand, there were busloads (literally) of young Arab members from the Histadrut HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed הִסְתַּדְּרוּת הַנוֹעַר הַעוֹבֵד וְהַלוֹמֵד, literally The General Federation of Students and Young Workers in Israel. It comes from the Labor Zionist movement although I don’t know what is the current connection.

The coordinator of the Arab branch, Tony Nasr, was a featured speaker and not coincidentally a great believer of coexistence. While I don’t doubt his sincerity I have to wonder if this group will attend the next commemoration.

Will I be pilloried for saying busloads?

Extra credit

† Yes I know it’s a weak joke. Da Nile is a river in Egypt.

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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