Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Our daughter, who is in first grade, asked us about Yitzhak Rabin. Her teacher told her and her classmates to ask their parents to tell them what they know about the man and his work. We spoke with her about him, bought her the book "The Redhead from ( the ) Kadouri ( school ) who became prime minister" and showed her many pictures that we found in a book and online. While we did that I thought how slight the chances are that the next generation will continue to honor Rabin's memory. It is very hard for me to explain to our daughter why Yigal Amir hated Yitzhak Rabin so much that he wanted to kill him, but I find it almost impossible - and of course decided not - to tell her that Yigal Amir was not the only one who wished Rabin dead, and that today many Israelis would not shed a tear if Ariel Sharon was murdered too. We did try to describe to her the pain and anger of the settlers before and during the implementation of the disengagement plan, but we thought it was a bit too much to explain to a six-year-old the link between that plan, the slogans of the Right that she could read everywhere for many months, and the first - and G'd willing last - murder of a Prime Minister in Israel. I wonder - but have some idea - how the more extreme supporters of the settlers talk about Rabin, if at all. On national television we heard Yigal Amir's mother, who is a kindergarten teacher, tell us that Rabin basically got what he deserved, and she probably is not the only parent or educator who thinks so. With the Left being more ineffective and divided than ever before, the Right busier with infighting than with ideology, and the government in the hands of someone who played an important negative role in the months that preceded the murder of Rabin, only to do part of Rabin's job ten years later, the only national consensus surrounding what is so beautifully named "Rabin's legacy" is that few things evoke so little consensus as the memory of that man. Just so that I will be able to read the articles in the future ( for example on the day that, heaven forbid, Yigal Amir will be released from prison; that seems unthinkable to many today, but on the other hand, who would have believed you if you had said in 1982 or 1995 that Ariel Sharon would be Prime Minister one day, or that he would be the one who would take us out of Gaza; nothing is impossible in - Israeli - politics ) I saved some of the articles about ( the memory of ) Rabin and his murder that appeared this week on the website of Ha'Aretz. You can find them here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. The most interesting and moving posting on the subject I read in German, on the weblog of my friend Lila at Letters from Rungholt. Two excerpts I will translate here: "It is ten years ago. My eldest was then in kindergarten, we told him in the morning about the murder of the Prime Minister. His reaction: Mommy, from now on I will also stand still for Rabin, when the sirens remind us of the dead soldiers. [...] It is a real problem to keep the remembrance alive and not to lapse into schematic and obligatory memorials, at least as far as the ceremonies at schools are concerned. For all adults it remains unforgettable how terrible the murder was. A sad day.[...] "...what is supposed to become of [...] peace [...], nobody really knows. I believe that today we do not aim our hopes so high anymore. A good, solid agreement, with which both sides can live, would be enough for us. Today I see peace as the fruit that will slowly grow out of that. But even this modest vision is in doubt. Whatever, I have no idea either."

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