It’s easy to say isn’t it? That if Rabin was alive everything would be alright. His son Yuval repeated this orthodoxy today – “if he were alive today, my father would have abandoned all the political considerations and taken upon itself to save Israel from its troubles.” The best way for a politician to guarantee his/her reputation for posterity is to be assassinated. There’s nothing particularly interesting in this. It happens across the board. For some reason, we seem unable to emancipate ourselves from nostalgia. We forget all the flaws of the dearly departed, preferring to pretend that they were moral and intellectual giants who would have solved our problems with ease, had they not been cut off in their prime by the cruel assassin’s bullet.
The other curious feature of the post-assassination world is to try and pretend it is possible to remember the murdered in as apolitical manner as possible. In this case, this means vague rhetoric about ‘everyone wanting peace’, and no mention of the murderer’s name. By blotting this out, and expressing our outrage at his desire to have children, we promote him to the level of a mythical monster, sent by the Gods to destroy our hopes and dreams. That prevents us from reminding ourselves of the fact that significant numbers of people, including prominent politicians who still skulk around, happily created atmosphere in which a Prime Minister could be murdered. And that includes you Mr Netanyahu. We will not forget, and we will not forgive.
I don’t believe that if Rabin were alive today things would be hunky-dory. I also don’t accept that Oslo was a cunning plan to complete, rather than to end, the dispossession of the Palestinians. It was a flawed document, from which could have flowed a number of possible outcomes. Had Rabin lived, there is a real chance that things may have turned out better. But that’s all speculation. We will never know. But we do know that the bullets which slew Rabin were also turned against the Israeli left. To this day, there has been no recovery. The job started by Yigal Amir was finished by Arafat’s decision to launch the Second Intifada. Today, we are more marginalised than ever. Hope has given way to cynicism of the worst kind – based in racism rather than reason, falsehoods rather than truths.
So today we sang Aviv Gefen’s Livkot L’cha [To cry for you] and Shir L’Shalom [Song of Peace], rounded off with a less than rousing rendition of the Hatikvah. We fell into the anniversary trap of reflecting for its own sake, simply on account of the calendar. We remembered where we were the night he fell. I looked at the pictures of his life, focusing on the early days as a warrior. He was a handsome, famously informal man. He came from the generation that lived by the sword. Despite everything, I remain convinced that this was entirely necessary. But we will not see the likes of him again. The sole survivor from those days is Rabin’s darker shadow, Ariel Sharon, who lies in a coma from which he is unlikely to wake. The generation of the sword and the plough has given way to bourgeois apathy, in a country where apathy is an indulgence.
We are waiting for a hero. Someone with vision, someone with hope. We remember Rabin as one such man. In the confusion of thoughts induced by these never-ending anniversaries, may some clarity emerge. It seems as if Gaza is about to hot up yet again. Quiet days interspersed with violence. A letting off of steam, the lazy way to maintain stability. So Yuval Rabin’s words are not much use. Rabin is no more. May we one day be able to remember him as a human being, and not what might have been.