Some 20,000 people attended a rally marking the 17th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin's death, held in Tel Aviv under the title "Remembering the murder – fighting for democracy."
Poet Haim Guri took to the stage at the beginning of the event, which was held in Rabin Square – formerly Malkhey Yisrael Square – where Rabin was assassinated in 1995.
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"Three bullets took the life a the Palmach man, the IDF combat soldier, the IDF chief and the first prime minister to be born in Israel," Guri said. Turning to the public, he added: "I address you as your grandfather. You are the future of this country. Everything that happens to us in the coming years depends on you."
Memorial wall near Rabin Square (Photo: Yaron Brener)
Prior to the rally, Guri told Ynet that he came to the event to meet Israel's "future generation."
"What is happening in Israel today is in complete violation of the Declaration of Independence, which promises freedom of worship and mutual respect for members of all religions," he added. "Mosques are torched, monasteries are vandalized and Islam is provoked – like we don't have enough enemies."
He noted the annual rally was the right platform to contemplate these issues and to make sure that another assassination doesn't take place.
Rabbi Benny Lau called on the rally's attendees to stand up against the injustices that are tearing Israel apart.
"We have gathered here tonight to loudly say that we will not allow anyone to break our national union," he said. "Together we say no to violence, to racism, to the King's Torah. This nation is important to us, and no one has the right to hurt it.”
Religious youth attends rally
Saturday's event was accentuated by the attendance of members of the National Religious movement. The secretary-general of Bnei Akiva, Danny Hirshberg, told Ynet that it is important to teach the future generations of the assassination.
Earlier Saturday it was reported that his decision to represent the religious youth movement at the rally caused a stir among members, who accused him of helping perpetuate the legacy of a man whose leadership, they said, led to the deaths of many Israelis. But Hirshberg said he received widespread support, with only a fraction of members opposing.
Knesset Member Amir Peretz said that if the peace accords that Rabin envisioned were in effect, "We could have isolate Iran and stood against the Islamist surge that is washing over the world, an Israel would have been much safer."
He added, however, that "if Bnei Akiva (members) are willing to listen and look into the possibility that in order to live up to Rabin's legacy the settlements must be cleared, and that in order to start negotiations with the Palestinians we must freeze (construction), then that is the message they are teaching their young. And I welcome it."
Musicians Yehudit Ravitz, Shlomo Bar and Efraim Shamir performed at the event, among others. The event was organized by several organizations and youth movements, including Dror Israel and the Working and Studying Youth.
Several streets in the city were closed to traffic ahead of the event.
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