As Tuesday's annual commemorations of the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin passes relatively quietly, a nationalist group says the Left has abandoned Rabin's legacy.
Memorial ceremonies for Rabin are held throughout the week of the 12th day of the month of Heshvan, the Hebrew anniversary of the date of his shooting on Nov. 4, 1995. He was shot to death following a Saturday night pro-Oslo rally in Tel Aviv, in the midst of a sharp national debate over the Oslo process; convicted assassin Yigal Amir is serving a life sentence for the crime. Teachers, rabbis, politicians and other leaders on both sides of the debate blanketly condemned the murder, but this did not prevent years of anti-nationalist hostility on the part of those who blamed the nationalist camp collectively for what the killing.
Rabin's contributions to the hostile atmosphere reigning at the time between the left-wing and nationalist camps are often overlooked. At one point, he said publicly and exasperatedly that the Golan Heights residents who objected to his withdrawal plan "could continue to turn like a propeller." In response to the fury that erupted at the remarks, then-MK Chaim Ramon "explained" that Rabin was not referring to all the Golan residents, "but only to those who had deviated from the public norm and joined up with the ultra-right settlers."
'I'm not PM of 2 Percent'
Several months before he was killed, Rabin said in the Knesset, "I am Prime Minister of 98 percent of the nation, and not of 2 percent." This was in the wake of a terrorist bus bombing in Tel Aviv that killed five Israelis.
Grassroots Call to Return to True Rabin Legacy
The grassroots nationalist organization Mattot Arim, based in Rehovot, issued a call to the Labor Party to cease abandoning the "Rabin legacy." The call aroused interest, in that Labor has always been in the forefront of the calls to eternalize what it calls the "Rabin legacy."
Mattot Arim spokesperson Susie Dym said that Labor's positions contrast with those of Rabin "because it supports the establishment of a Palestinian state, to which Rabin was opposed."
In an interview with Time magazine shortly after the signing of the Oslo Accords, Rabin was asked about the apparent softening of Labor's opposition to a Palestinian state. He responded unequivocally, "No. I am against this. I oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan…"
Oslo Accords Not Irreversible
Rabin also took a more hawkish approach to the Palestinian Authority than does the Labor Party today. In March 1994, Rabin said on national television, "The Palestinian police will fight against Hamas and use the guns [provided by Israel] against Hamas, without [having to worry about] B'Tselem or the Supreme Court or [the left-wing] Mothers Against Silence. They will not even dream of using the guns against us, because they well know that if they do, immediately at that minute the Oslo Agreement will be null and void, and the IDF will return to the places we gave them."
Labor's Slide Proportionate to its Support of PA State
The Mattot Arim letter to Labor reads: "As proud and loyal Israelis, we wish to remind you on this sad day that until 1992, you adhered to the legacy of the late Yitzchak Rabin, and included in your platform opposition to a Palestinian state. But since 1992, you have abandoned this path, following blindly the dizzy idea of a Palestinian state – and therefore it is only natural that the public has abandoned you and you have deteriorated more and more."
A graph attached to the letter shows how the party has reached a low of 13 MKs in the current Knesset, from a high of over 40 in the 1980's. when the party still opposed a Palestinian state.
Labor MK Einat Wilf, too, says that the party's steep slide is attributable to its relationship with Rabin, but gives the opposite explanation. She said that the party identifies too strongly with the image of Yitzchak Rabin and of his shot-down dream, and not enough with successful "do-ers" such as the first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. Wilf called for the removal of the over-sized portrait of Rabin that has dominated the party's Knesset room since shortly after his death.
The Mattot Arim letter concludes: "We call upon you to sober up, to return to the Rabin legacy, and for each of you to say these words that are so important to the security of Israel and Israeli citizens, 'I oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state."