Remembering the Murder, Fighting for Democracy
25 years after the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, a broad coalition of youth movements and other organizations insists on maintaining dialogue and strengthening democracy
It has been 25 years since Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing Jewish extremist. For the first 15 years after his murder, there were rallies in the square where he was shot calling for peace, democracy and an end to incitement. Five years ago, the coalition “Remembering the Murder, Fighting for Democracy” was formed, pioneering a new way to commemorate Prime Minister Rabin’s legacy.
The Israeli Assembly is a large-scale and nation-wide event put on by the “Remembering the Murder, Fighting for Democracy” Coalition every year. Members of youth movements across the political, religious and social spectrums are invited to gather in central places in the large cities across Israel. There, they are split into mixed groups and led by the youth movement leaders in discussions on topics that are at times divisive and prevalent to Israeli society today. There is also an assembly where adults are invited to come and sit together to discuss contentious topics. Topics have included the Israeli Declaration of Independence, should there be transportation on Shabbat, mandatory military service for all citizens and more. The idea is for people to come together around topics that are divisive and heated and instead of resorting to violence or threats, to remember that the most important thing is that even the people you disagree with are members of society and deserve to have their voices heard.
One of the more important things that has been created through this coalition is the partnership between the Dror Israel movement and the Bnei Akiva movement. These two movements have traditionally been on opposite sides of the political and religious spectrum. Through years of dialogue and discourse, the two movements decided that what was really important was that Israeli democracy remains strong. Together they helped form the coalition that stages the Israeli Assembly every year.
This year, more than ever, Israel is divided. The physical distance imposed by the COVID-19 crisis and strident protests against the government that have been occurring across the country combine to create an atmosphere of heightened division. In response, the coalition decided to advertise the Israeli Assembly n a billboard on the Ayalon highway – the major north-south traffic artery in metropolitan Tel Aviv. “Every year we say that the memory of the murder [of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin] is more relevant than ever,” says Tomer Schmukler, a representative of Dror Israel on the coalition, “sometimes it sounds like a cliche. But this year we feel it in our guts, we see it bubbling up in our streets, the storm is brewing and it is not clear how to silence it.”
“That is why this year we decided to ‘fight for democracy’ and try to talk to each other as Israelis, in every part of the country, in the city centers and also on the Ayalon. Despite all of the quarrels and disputes we believe that the majority of Israelis believe in democracy. Twenty-five years since the murder, and this year we ask you to remember and believe. Remember Israel, that we are all Israelis.”.