A dark cloud hovered over Israel’s state ceremony at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem on Sunday marking the anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s death as both President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Yair Lapid suggested that Israel’s democracy is under threat.

Twenty-seven years ago, Yitzhak Rabin (1922-1995), an Israeli politician and general, was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a right-wing activist who opposed the Oslo Accords, an agreement struck in 1993 between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“Even after 27 years have passed since the murder, it seems that not much has changed, not enough has changed; when again and again alarming signs of incitement and escalation, of violence gnawing at the foundations of democracy, are revealed in Israeli society,” said Herzog, who gave the opening speech.

“This is the time to lower the flames, and show responsibility. To the leaders of the Israeli public from all over the spectrum, from the expected coalition and the expected opposition, I call and request: We have attacked enough, we have fought enough, we have cursed enough,” he said.

Lapid painted a picture of a nation divided, saying, “As fate would have it, this commemoration for Yitzhak Rabin takes place only a few days after the State of Israel went to elections and returned from them again divided, again angry, again threatening to split into ‘us and them.’

“We are close to the point of no return, but it is still in our hands. We can still change direction. Reality is not an inevitable result of demographics or geography; it is a result of the choices we will make and the decisions we will make,” he said.

Presenting himself as the defender of Israeli democracy, Lapid said, “Rabin was a soldier in the army of peace. I’m a soldier in the army of democracy. This is the war of the age. We will protect Israeli democracy and guard it at all costs.”

Lapid’s center-left bloc lost the election to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc, 64 Knesset seats to 51, on Nov. 1.

Also attending the annual ceremony were Speaker of the Knesset Mickey Levy, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion, along with other public figures and members of Rabin’s family.

The prime minister and others laid wreaths at Rabin’s grave. The ceremony concluded with the singing of “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem.


Jewish News Syndicate

With geographic, political and social divides growing wider, high-quality reporting and informed analysis are more important than ever to keep people connected.

Our ability to cover the most important issues in Israel and throughout the Jewish world—without the standard media bias—depends on the support of committed readers.

If you appreciate the value of our news service and recognize how JNS stands out among the competition, please click on the link and make a one-time or monthly contribution.

We appreciate your support.