Peres at Rabin memorial ceremony
Peres at Rabin memorial ceremonyIsrael news photo: Flash 90

Bnei Akiva head Danny Hirschberg’s agreement to speak at this year’s memorial for slain Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin has pleased the left, but is causing controversy within the Bnei Akiva movement. “Rabin was the opposite of what we stand for,” some argue.

After Hirschberg announced his decision, the Bnei Akiva branch in Itamar was the first to urge him to reconsider. “The guns that Yitzchak Rabin gave the Arabs were used, and continue to be used, in lowly acts of killing and murder of Jewish residents of Israel,” the group said.

Bnei Akiva in Itamar was particularly hard hit by terrorism when in early 2011 terrorists slew the parents and three of the five siblings of Tamar Fogel, a member of the youth group.

The Bnei Akiva branch in Hevron later submitted an appeal against Hirschberg’s plan to speak as well. In a letter, the Hevron branch noted that Bnei Akiva youth worldwide recently took part in an event in which they committed themselves to honoring the values of the movement.

“We learned from you… that a loyal person is one who ‘does not seek society’s approval and does not copy what others are doing, but instead is guided by his own path and his soul.’ Isn’t participation in this rally in contradiction?” the letter asked.

“Rabin gave weapons to the worst of our enemies, and when those guns were used to murder our sons and daughters, Rabin called them ‘sacrifices for peace,’ and calmly moved on!” the letter charged. In a parenthetical aside, it added, “Bnei Akiva can take ‘pride’ in the number of orphans it is raising thanks to that ‘glorious’ legacy.”

The letter went on to quote Rabin in his harsh criticism of the political right, noting a statement in which Rabin said right-wing rabbis were “poisoning our society.”

“Participation in the rally will be taken as agreement with the principles it was founded on,” the letter-writers warned. “We must be clear! We have no part in the poison, incitement and hate that ooze from his words.” Bnei Akiva should choose a different time and place to seek unity with the political left," they concluded.