Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Cheshvan 5761 - November 15, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
The Remains of the Legacy

by Y. Roth

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 newspapers.

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, situation.

"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 schools."

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 correct.

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 minister.

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?

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