Seventeen years after Yitzhak Rabin's death, his sister warns against the apathy taking hold of Israeli society and laments that the assassination has not yielded any concrete lessons.
"Yizthak's murder didn't happen in a vacuum," Rachel Rabin Yaakov says. "It was preceded by incitement and a terrible atmosphere that was foreign to the Israeli society and culture I knew.
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"Some of the people responsible for that incitement have come a long way since then," she adds. "Benjamin Netanyahu never apologized for those acts, but I still remember who stood on the balcony in Zion Square, and who followed the coffin in Raanana. That man became prime minister, and I'm very bothered by that."
Rabin Yaakov with her grandchildren (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
In an interview at her humble home in Kibbutz Manara, where she has been residing for the past 69 years, Rabin Yaakov says that her brother's legacy is still alive and kicking.
"It begins with the values of sacrifice and giving, and with the thousands of teens who volunteer and dedicate their lives for the good of the state and the community," she says.
"We never thought of ourselves as the center of the universe, and a large part of today's youth doesn't think this way, either," she adds, glancing proudly at her grandchildren, Maya and Tal Valentine, both educators at the Dror Israel youth movement.
Yitzhak Rabin with Henry Kissinger (Photo: David Rubinger)
Herself a retired teacher, Rabin Yaakov says that the hope that Israelis held on to before the assassination had disappeared.
"We were left only with fear," she adds.
Rabin Yaakov misses her big brother but also longs for his brand of leadership, she says, stressing his preference for actions rather than words.
"Yitzhak, who knew war, knew also how to pave the way to peace, how to set a goal and move towards it slowly but surely. He realized that the conflict with the Palestinians must be solved, first and foremost for our benefit," she says.
Rabin, Bill Clinto and King Hussein of Jordan (Photo: AP)
Her discontent with the current generation of politicians is clear as day.
"Our leaders talk about national resilience, but they make sure to sow fear every chance they get," she charges. "There is a weakness in the leaders' inability to take action in order to change the situation fundamentally. This leadership shows inconsistency and is at times disconnected from the people on the ground."
Rabin Yaakov further asserts that the assassination failed to prevent another surge of radicalization from washing over the Israeli public.
"We haven't learned anything since the murder," she says. "We have here unprecedented political radicalization. We've gone farther than ever and now it turns out that the murder was just a stop on the way. The violence has become more widespread; mosques are torched, churches are damaged. Vandalism and racism rear their heads on a daily basis.
"And yet, the leadership stands by and doesn't do anything to eradicate this terrible stain."
Finally, Rabin Yaakov cautions against forgetting her brother's murder. Unlike in previous years, a rally held in tribute to the slain prime minister on Saturday was not sponsored by the national center established in his memory.
Rabin, Moshe Dayan and Uzi Narkis in Six Day War (Photo: GPO)
A decision by the head of Bnei Akiva, a religious youth movement, to represent the group at Saturday's rally drew an outcry from members, who accused him of perpetuating the legacy of a man whose actions they said led to the deaths of many Israelis.
"Yitzhak's murder and his legacy as a man who fought in the people's defense have been pushed aside and forgotten," Rabin Yaakov claims. "Some people in the political system are uncomfortable dealing with the fact that a prime minister was murdered.
"If on Jerusalem Day they fail to mention Yitzhak – the man who commanded the Harel Brigade during the War of Independence and the IDF chief of staff who liberated Jerusalem in the Six Day War – it clearly indicates a trend that keeps many teens unfamiliar with Yitzhak in that respect.
"If the radicalization that has spread amid some sections within the Israeli society continues and nothing is done to stop it, we might reach a point where the murder becomes legitimate, the public is apathetic and Yigal Amir is released from prison," she warns.
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