Members of the Bnei Akiva youth movement are furious at a decision made by their secretary-general, Danny Hirshberg, to participate in the memorial rally for slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
– as the organization's representative.
Movement members from the settlement of Itamar send Hirshberg an angry letter accusing him of contributing to the commemoration of the Rabin heritage, which they say led to the murder of many Israelis, including 20 of the community's residents.
Meanwhile, former Chief Military Rabbi Avichai Ronsky, head of the Itamar yeshiva, expressed his support for the Bnei Akiva secretary-general.
Danny Hirshberg is expected to speak at the rally, which will be held Saturday evening at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square. He explained that for years Bnei Akiva leaders had asked themselves why they were being excluded from the memorial rally, and that now that they have been invited to attend, they must do so.
He further added that the movement was concerned about the State's future and had a sense of responsibility, and had therefore accepted the invitation extended by the Zionist movements organizing the rally, which share the same sentiments.
In response to the decision, the coordinator of the Itamar branch of Bnei Akiva sent a harsh letter to the secretary-general, expressing his shock over his intention to take part in the rally.
"Yitzhak Rabin, as prime minister, worked for the creation of an Arab entity which tries incessantly to destroy the State of Israel.
The guns Yitzhak Rabin gave the Arabs were used and are being used to for cowardly killing and murder sprees among the State of Israel's Jewish residents.
"There is no room, even for the sake of feeling part of the people of Israel, to take part in an event glorifying the name, work and heritage of a person who left only one heritage behind: National defeatism and sacrificing 'victims of peace' for the sake of Oslo,"
the coordinator wrote on behalf of the Itamar students.
"As members of Bnei Akiva, we call on you to represent your pupils and members of your movement proudly, without bowing your head and humiliating yourself to the radical-leftist agenda which calls for the adoption of Yitzhak Rabin's heritage."
The Itamar students noted in their letter that 20 of the settlement's residents have been murdered since the signing of the Oslo Accords. One of them is movement member Yoav Fogel, who was murdered
last year along with his parents and siblings.
The letter also mentioned Gilad Zar, who was "murdered by terrorists with weapons given to them by Yitzhak Rabin," whose son is a member of the local Bnei Akiva branch.
"How can we all stand – pupils, instructors and parents of Itamar's Bnei Akiva branch – and wave the movement's flag proudly, knowing that the movement's secretary-general is going to support the heritage of the person directly responsible for our pain?
"Yitzhak Rabin symbolizes the opposite of unity. He fired at Altalena,
faced by a true leader who cried out, 'War between brothers – never,' and chose to bid farewell to his Jewish brothers as well by giving their enemies the weapons, the territory and the political tools to destroy them.
"Unity is important, participating and engaging in a dialogue with the different parts of the Israeli society is important, but before the architects of Oslo express regret over their actions – how can we participate in the rally, in a way which can be interpreted as a show of support?" the letter concluded.
"We urge you to renege on your decision and cancel your shameful participation in the rally in memory of Yitzhak Rabin."
The coordinator signed the letter on behalf of the movement's youth and "on behalf of those who can no longer speak."
In a letter of response, Hirshberg clarified that the rally does not glorify Rabin and his heritage or blame Religious Zionism members for the murder.
"Although the reason for the gathering is the murder, the rally's theme is how to manage a dispute within the Israeli society, and the unequivocal call for safeguarding democracy."
Hirshberg added that he would not be arriving at the rally hanging his head in shame or apologizing, but "with my head held high, with a national rather than sectorial look, with responsibility and out of the casualties' pain."
According to Hirshberg, "We don't feel guilty for the murder of a prime minister in Israel. We feel pain… We feel the duty to inform the Israeli society that differences can and should be clarified in a dialogue between brothers."
Rabbi Avichai Ronsky expressed his support for the Bnei Akiva secretary-general in a letter of his own.
"The murder of a prime minister in general, and within the Jewish people in particular, critically injures our country, the delicate and complex fabric of relations between the different groups in Israeli society, so it is crucial to engage in a fundamental interpretation of what happened among us 17 years ago, so that it does not repeat itself, God forbid," Ronsky wrote.
"Our power is in unity and a true partnership, even when there are strong differences of faith and opinion.
"We must not retire from the public, from the rest of the people of Israel, and isolate ourselves within our own world out of anger at those who we think are hurting us," Ronsky ruled.
"I was happy to hear that the Bnei Akiva secretary-general accepted the invitation to take part in the rally Saturday evening and deliver the message of the national-religious youth, out of a clear stance which rules out violence and strives to bring brothers together."