This week in Israel: Remembering Yitzhak Rabin

On November 4, 1995, following a peace rally that is estimated to have attracted nearly 500,000 people to Tel Aviv’s central square, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. Rabin’s violent death is commonly regarded by the vast majority of Israelis as one of the most tragic and momentous events in their country’s history; every Israeli remembers exactly where he was and what he was doing that night. This week, is the 10th anniversary of what Israelis call “retzakh Rabin” – Rabin’s murder.

The commemorations began yesterday with the first of a series of ceremonies that will culminate on Saturday, November 14, when the Hebrew calendar date of the anniversary falls. The memorial rally will be held next Saturday night in Tel Aviv, in the place that is now called Rabin Square. Bill Clinton, who touched the hearts of so many when he bade farewell to Rabin in Hebrew with the words “shalom haver” (goodbye, friend), is scheduled to be among the speakers.

Israel’s three daily newspapers devoted most of their weekend editions, which are published on Fridays, to articles that commemorate Rabin and examine his legacy. Haaretz newspaper issued its Friday edition with a black border to indicate mourning, and included a supplement devoted exclusively to the 10th anniversary.

And several Israeli bloggers have written about their memories and feelings.

Shai has written a series of posts that include a vivid description of how he heard the news, what he saw on the streets of Jerusalem and a sober analysis of how the event affected Israeli society and politics. In the first post of the series, he writes:

Rabin’s murder was the first in a long chain of horrible events that destroyed a lot of our assumptions about how things are. It destroyed the idea that, no matter what, the internal political debate in this country would remain in the realm of the political and not veer towards the realm of violence.

The rest of the series is here, here and here.

Shai and I were also invited to participate in a discussion of Rabin’s legacy hosted by the BBC World Service’s programme World Have Your Say. You can listen to the audio link here. (You can hear us about 15 minutes into the programme).

Other bloggers who wrote about Rabin are He of Something Something and poet and Tel Aviv University professor of literature Karen Alkalay-Gut, who included a poem she wrote (November 3 entry) about Rabin. I also posted about my memories here.

But not everyone in the Israeli blogosphere is writing about Rabin this week, and I wouldn’t want readers to have the impression that we are all walking around in a state of mourning. We remember, yes, but we also live our lives. So here is what some other bloggers have been writing about.

Stephanie Freid of Stefanella’s Drive Thru wrote a hilarious post about English mis-spellings and mis-translations on menus in Israeli restaurants. Steak Intreecote, anybody?

Brian Blum of This Normal Life wrote a touching post about the bat mitzvah, or coming of age ceremony, of his daughter Merav in Jerusalem. It is customary for the young person to give a speech, and Merav chose to speak about how one should read the stories of the Bible. Should we take it as literally true that God created the world in six days? If we do not take this literally, then why are these stories important?

John, a non-Jew from North Carolina who lives with his Israeli partner (and clerk to Israeli supreme court president Aharon Barak) Yaacov in Jerusalem, writes about the issue of privacy versus security in a very security-conscious society. How would you feel if a police officer called you at home to ask if that was your car parked in front of the President of Israel's residence? John couldn't decide if he was thrilled about carrying on the whole conversation in Hebrew (he's only lived in Israel for one year) or disturbed that the government could track him down so easily.

And Chayyeisarah, a modern Orthodox journalist who moved from New York to Jerusalem two years ago, provides a lighthearted list of what she learned after her breakup with her first Israeli boyfriend.


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