Rivlin: 'No Absolution' for Terrorists

President Reuven Rivlin expresses 'utter disgust' at Jerusalem attack, notes similar disunity felt in the days before Rabin's murder.

Tova Dvorin , | updated: 5:59 PM

President Reuven Rivlin
President Reuven Rivlin
Chaim Zach/GPO

President Reuven Rivlin expressed "utter disgust" at Wednesday's terror attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday night, during an address at the memorial site for Prime Minister Yitzhak and Leah Rabin. 

"I want to begin today, by expressing my heartfelt pain and utter disgust at the terror attack which took place today in Jerusalem," he said. "There can be no absolution for those who turn cars into weapons to attack innocent civilians at bus and train stations." 

"Those who will be harmed more than any, will be the terrorists, and those who incite and support them," he continued. "We will not cease to build across Jerusalem, to impose law and order, by virtue of our sovereignty."

Rabin then connected the attack to Rabin's murder. 

"Days before his murder, in October 1995, Prime Minister Rabin addressed the celebrations in Washington DC, to mark three thousand years of Jerusalem," he said. "He spoke to the people of Israel and the world, and said proudly and confidently, 'My Jerusalem is the focus of the longing, and destination of the dreams of the Jewish people. That is the dream, to reach (Jerusalem).  We have differences of opinion, from the Right to the Left.  We disagree over the direction and over the aim.  But in Israel, we have no disagreement on one issue – the unification of Jerusalem, and its continued place as the capital of the State of Israel.'"

"These were his words," he continued. "And specifically now, specifically today, these words of Yitzchak are etched upon our hearts."

"Honored friends, we stand here today, before the graves of Leah and Yitzchak Rabin, a Prime Minister of Israel, murdered by the hands of Jewish assassin," he added. "Nineteen years have already passed since the blade was once again raised over Isaac (Yitzchak), who was placed upon the vile alter of political violence.  All those who were already old enough to remember, on November 4, 1995, could not fail to remember the awful feelings that arose on that terrible night.  Many of my generation, and of the generation of my children, across the political spectrum, from Right to Left, religious and secular, experienced that night a personal tragedy.  A trauma, to which the emotional responses were so intense, for us, they were formative.  Rabin’s murder, has made this day one of the darkest moments in the history of the State of Israel.  However, the intensity of the trauma is also related to a great extent, to what happened here in the days before and after.  We must speak the truth.  The raw emotion of the memory of those days, is not the memory of just one or another political camp, but a memory divided up between them."

"We remember the difficult atmosphere before the murder, we remember the tension, the anger and frustration, and the exchange of accusations between the parties.  And we remember also the events that took place after.  Engulfed in pain and loss, the ‘peace camp’, laying upon the ‘opponents of Oslo’ a collective guilt.  While the ‘opponents of Oslo’ accused the ‘peace camp’ of the same, in an attempt to silence the legitimate debates on Rabin’s policies.

"Nineteen years after the murder, and yet, the question of his memory continues to stir within us, the generation which remembers those days, an emotional reaction; a reaction that demands of us to unite around this day, and find within it common ground.

"Friends, the emotional connection of many of us, the generation who knew Yitzchak, demands of us, to look to the lessons of this day.  For us, the annual dealing with this murder, renews the trauma, and reawakens the feeling of those days.  However, while we were busy processing our feelings, a generation who did not know Isaac has grown up. A generation has grown up, that has not experienced life before the murder, and what came immediately after it.  A generation has grown up, which does not carry the memory of that night, which does not remember the Government of Israel making that shocking announcement, which does not remember that sickening smile, which did not deal, dumbfounded and in shock with the search for the guilty after the murder.  Lest we forget, the youth who then lit candles, are now in their forties.

"The young commanders, who led the soldiers of the IDF in Operation Protective Edge, were just babies at the time.  The young men and women, members of the youth movements, who will gather on Saturday night in the square - were not even born at all.  They have not experienced this trauma that we went through.  For the younger generations, this emotional experience, (from which we have yet to recover, nineteen years later), is neither central nor secondary, nor Right nor Left.

"For the generation that did not know Yitzchak, the experience simply didn’t happen.  Friends, in the years that have passed, along with the difficulty, we have begun to find common ground in this memorial day.  Within the storm of emotions, we have succeeded to mark this day, as a day to alert Israelis society to the dangers of political violence.

"On this day, we speak about the need to safeguard our democracy, and to trust the common rules of practice.  This lesson is crucial.  It is important to be taught and to be heard, even if as I have a feeling, it is not heard enough.  Rabin was not murdered because of a momentary weakness in Israel’s democracy, but, crucially, against a background of a social reality that did not bring us together, but forced us apart.  When we remember the atmosphere of those days, before and after the murder, it is impossible but to recognize that it was not the rules of the game that separated us, but that there was a wide gulf between us.

"We had no shared language, we had no shared vision, we were not able to stress the values we shared – these are the reasons that the flames of controversy between us threatened to destroy us.

"However, friends, these are not just things of the past.  Israeli society will face difficult and painful challenges again in the future.  Therefore, Rabin’s memorial day will continue to be one with a relevant lesson for many generations to come.  However, this day could be used to present a significant lesson, if only we understand that regularization of the formal rules of play between parts of Israeli society is not the main lesson we should and need to discuss. I believe that this Memorial Day should be the day on which society is willing to look directly into the abyss.

"On this day, we will have to learn to ask ourselves difficult questions about the common vision that guides us, the values ​​that bind us, and while courageously striving to find answers to those question. To do this, we, the generation who knew Yitzhak, will have to put aside the heavy residue of recrimination often guiding our relations to this day.

"We, the members of that generation, are obliged to do so, for posterity. It is for us to extract from within ourselves a more meaningful and valuable lesson; a more significant, serious, forward looking lesson, about ourselves, about that which separates and that which unites us. A lesson that relates to the importance of the social task before us. One that demands of us today to formulate a strong alliance, linking between the different camps and the various tribes within Israeli society.

"Friends, it is nineteen years since the murder, and I believe that the opportunity to mold the content and meaning of this day, for future generations, still remains. Last Monday, I met with representatives of this younger generation, members and councilors of the various youth movements and I will be meeting them at the memorial rally on Saturday night as well.  This youth, these young people are thirsty and crying out for a moral statement. These young men and women, residents of Eli, Shefaram, Kfar Saba and Bnei Brak, are looking for a new moral language, connecting them together.

"No day is more relevant and more meaningful to engage in this, than the Memorial Day for Yitzchak Rabin. Let us bequeath to future generations, not just our differences; not only the dry understandings between us; but also a language to speak to each other with. May the memory of Yitzchak and Leah Rabin be blessed," he concluded.