There is great contempt for Yitzchak Rabin and his legacy
these days. And nowhere was it more evident than the media's
reaction to a teacher who dared to write a letter against
the late prime minister.
Instead of splashing news of this "blasephemous" letter on
the front pages, as in the past, the item was buried deep on
the inside pages.
Something has apparently changed in the State of Israel if
such a report--accompanied by the unequivocal demand of the
Absorption Minister to locate the author and to fire him
immediately--did not find a respectable place in the
What does the "blasphemous" letter say? Following are
excerpts, as reported by the media:
"At this time of hardship and distress for the Jewish
people, a time when all of us are aware that Rabin is
primarily responsible for the difficult situation of our
State and people, and we are all aware that Rabin's legacy
is one of subservience and obsequiousness, we conclude that
Rabin, the man and his approach to peace, are the factors
which have brought us to this critical, intolerable,
"Rabin, the man and his legacy are no longer an issue for
study and analyses among the general population, and above
all, not in the educational system. We ask you, on the day
marking Rabin's murder, not to issue instructions to hold
memorial rallies or instructions to hang his picture in the
The journalists also noted that the comments do stress the
need to discuss the abominable murder, which should
definitely be condemned.
Now for the million dollar question: where's the blasphemy
in this letter? It contains criticism, a bit sharp perhaps,
of Yitzchak Rabin's political approach. When Palestinian
guns, given according to the Rabin-Arafat accords, shoot at
Jewish soldiers and civilians, it is definitely reasonable
to have misgivings over whether Rabin's approach was
It is even permissible to express a democratic and
legitimate opinion about the deeds of the man in respect to
his approach to peace.
Whoever wants to debate Rabin's views and even to totally
contradict them, may do so within the framework of
legitimate public discussion. But what does all that have to
do with "blasphemy?"
At the beginning of the memorial ceremonies, a memorial film
which dealt with Rabin's life and deeds was shown to the
members of the Labor party. Everyone appeared in the film.
Leaders from all over the world, presidents, kings, prime
ministers, all except for one man, whose picture didn't
appear throughout the entire film. If you haven't guessed
until now, we are referring to Yassir Arafat.
Yes, Rabin's partner in the Nobel Peace Prize, the man with
whom Rabin signed the highly controversial agreement. All of
the pictures of the meetings between Rabin and Arafat, the
infamous handshake on the White House lawn, did not appear
in the film.
Someone had censored the film, and had cut Arafat out. The
editors of the film understood that when soldiers are being
butchered and civilians burned to death, by the "peace
partners" of Rabin, it isn't appropriate to show the
butchers in a film in praise of the assassinated prime
Rabin's picture beside Arafat doesn't aggrandize his esteem,
and it is best to conceal it at least during this period.
Put simply, this means that the editors of the film in
praise of Rabin understood the essence of his peace legacy
quite well. They understood that at least in the Palestinian
realm, his peace legacy does not earn him respect and
esteem. The viewers, they knew, would not be particularly
happy about the connection between Rabin and Arafat.
Thus, even the admirers of Rabin's memory understand that it
is preferable to keep a low profile with regard to Arafat in
discussing Rabin's legacy. Why, then, is it "blasphemous,"
for critics to express respectfully that they disagree with
his vision, even though they stress that they clearly oppose
the base murder?
In which Democracy Department did Absorbtion Minister Yuli
Tamir study? Who taught her to conclude that criticisms of
the Rabin Legacy festival, which many oppose, are not
legitimate nor permissible?
The Rabin family demanded that the prime minister not
participate in the rally held on motzai Shabbos in
Rabin Square, due to the allegation that Barak is not
continuing Rabin's legacy because he declared a "political
time out" in the peace process.
In the end, Barak was "allowed" to appear, but not before he
guaranteed the Rabin family that he had not abandoned their
father's path. If the opinion of the Rabin family is that
the Labor party prime minister is not continuing Rabin's
legacy, why is it forbidden for concerned teachers to write
letters in which they request not to be coerced to teach and
perpetuate the Rabin legacy?
Meanwhile, there is one interesting epilogue to the saga of
perpetuating the memory of Yitzchok Rabin:
Some have decided that the best way to perpetuate his legacy
is to institute a fast day: Ta'anis Yitzchok. On that
day, no marriage ceremonies may be held, no bar mitzvah
celebrations-- only "prayer services" and study sessions.
Of course, the Jews who came up with this chidush,
are Reform progressive Jews. It is interesting to know how
many members of this movement indeed keep fully this
difficult decree, and refrain from eating on the fast day.
Maybe they will perpetuate it merely by not drinking?