Some 100,000 people gathered in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday evening to mark the 11th anniversary of the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Left-wing activists who attended the ceremony protested the Israel Defense Forces's ongoing operation in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli government's policy towards the Palestinians.
Peace Now activists held placards reading: "Olmert and Peretz, you abandoned his path."
Rabin Square (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
Writer David Grossman, who lost his son Uri during last summer's war with Hizbullah, delivered a speech during the ceremony in which he said that Israel's military might alone will not achieve peace in the region.
Vice Premier Shimon Peres and former prime minister Ehud Barak attended the meeting.
Grossman called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to initiate peace talks with the Palestinians, warning that failure to do so will leave only serve extremists on both sides.
Peace activists in Rabin Square (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
While acknowledging that the Palestinians are equally responsible for the failure to reach a peace deal between both sides, he said Israel is suffering a deep leadership crisis.
"One of the most difficult things that the war brought forward is the feeling these days that there is no king in Israel. Our leadership is hollow; our military and political leaderships are hollow," Grossman said.
He slammed the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as a minister, calling him a "pyromaniac put in charge of the fire department."
"It is not easy to look at ourselves this year … Israel waved a mighty military muscle but behind its helplessness and fragility were exposed," Grossman said.
"We mainly realized that Israel is in deep crisis, deeper than we sought, deeper than after any other war," he said.
Grossman emphasized the importance of "designing reality, not just being a collaborator to an existing one." At the conclusion of his speech, he called on Israeli youth, religious and secular, left-wing and right-wing, to take an active part in creating a better reality in Israel.
Dalia Rabin: Yitzhak Rabin free of spin
Dalia Rabin, the daughter of the slain prime minister, spoke said, "Yitzhak Rabin lived, thought and acted in a straight line…he didn't compromise his values…didn't take short cuts."
"He always looked forward with a clear vision, with a detailed security approach, with a clear idea of where, why and how, and, with his great strength, facilitated processes. He was a man free of personal agendas, free of spin and sleight of hand, a leader who thought clearly and cleanly about the good of his people and his nation," she continued.