A rally at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv commemorating the 20th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin drew 100,000 participants on Saturday night, and was attended by former US President Bill Clinton. The gathering, organized under the slogan, “Remembering the murder, fighting for democracy”, was intended to be a non-political gathering honoring the Nobel Peace Prize winning former leader and his efforts to bring Peace to the the Middle East.
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin opened the rally by greeting Clinton with the phrase, “Shalom, Chaver (Welcome Friend).” This was a reference to the motto that had dominated the eulogies given at Rabin’s funeral, since the Hebrew word ‘Shalom’, also means ‘Goodbye’ and ‘Peace’. Clinton himself, as the serving US president, had spoken at Rabin’s funeral, using the very same phrase.
“Two decades have gone by, and still we remain overly focused on the wounds of the past, and not enough on building the future,” Rivlin said. “We should have no fear, Israel’s democracy is solid enough, and we are brave and strong enough to open wide Israel’s gates, so that all the groups within us may play an equal part in shaping the character and future of the State of Israel.”
Clinton, introduced by Dalia Rabin, the daughter of Yitzchak Rabin, addressed the crowd from behind a shield of bullet proof glass. He said, “The day he was killed was probably the worst day of my 8 years as president.”
“After all the fighting and battles he engaged in, he never stopped seeing other people, including his adversaries, as human beings,” said Clinton. “All of you must decide… how to finish his legacy, for the last chapter must be written by the people he gave his life to save and to nourish. You have to decide that the risks for peace are not as severe as the risks of walking away from it.”
A pre-recorded video of US President Barack Obama was shown on a large screen at the event. He took the opportunity to promote the two-state solution.
“The Jewish people have the right to live in their homeland, and Palestinians have the right to be a free people in their own land. And peace is possible, if both parties are willing to truly compromise and take risks for the only real solution — two states for two people; a democratic Jewish state living side-by-side in peace and security with a viable, independent and sovereign Palestinian state,” President Obama said.
“A bullet can take a man’s life, but his spirit and his dream of peace will never die.”