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Picture of former President Shimon Peres in a keffiyeh

From Rabin to Rivlin: Another autumn of incitement

Op-ed: Yitzhak Rabin's personal secretary says memory of days leading up to prime minister's murder won’t let her keep silent in light of another picture of a public figure wearing a keffiyeh.

It seems that almost every one of us has one special autumn, or perhaps a different season in the year, which is related to the memory of a dear person who is no longer with us, or to an event which has engraved a wrinkle of pain in one's heart.

 

 

Israeli songwriter Naomi Shemer described this internal feeling very well in her song "Every Year in the Fall, Giora," which she wrote in memory of Giora Shoham, who was killed in the Yom Kippur War.

 

In the past 19 years, my autumn is always related to the memory of Yitzhak Rabin's murder. Something in the Jerusalem chill of early November, the soft sunlight which has lost the glitter of the summer, and even the colors of the trees in the fall of autumn leaves, always remind me of that terrible autumn and the days that led up to it.

 

The curses on the telephone, which reached my ears as I sat near the entrance to his room in the Prime Minister's Office, the envelopes which arrived in the mail with blasphemy and slime, and more than anything – the horrifying posters showing Rabin dressed in an SS uniform or wearing a keffiyeh, sometimes hugging Yasser Arafat, sometimes on his own.

 

And since then, the keffiyeh has become a very popular garment in our country as a symbol and tool of incitement. I ran into it on Jerusalem's billboards in the months before the disengagement from Gaza, on the heads of late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his bureau chief Dov Weissglass.

 

That same year it wrapped Attorney General Menachem Mazuz's head in protest of his decision to allow Arabs to purchase lands from Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael-JNF. And later, in 2012, it was seen on the heads of High Court judges in protest of the ruling on the removal of homes from the Ulpana Neighborhood in Beit El.

 

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak in a keffiyeh. 'Since the murder, the keffiyeh has become a very popular garment in our country as a symbol and tool of incitement' (Photo: Reuters)
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak in a keffiyeh. 'Since the murder, the keffiyeh has become a very popular garment in our country as a symbol and tool of incitement' (Photo: Reuters)

 

And in this year's autumn, on the days before the Rabin memorial day, a picture of President Reuven Rivlin wearing a keffiyeh has appeared online. The word "traitor," which was so popular in 1995, is repeated against him again and again.

 

Some of us are apparently unable to tolerate the president's participation in an event marking the Kafr Qasim massacre. It is apparently difficult to accept his comments about equal rights for all of the state's citizens or the Knesset speech in which he condemned the verbal violence on the Web. This immediately calls for putting a keffiyeh on his head and verbally attacking him.

 

In the days that preceded the autumn of 1995, we didn't really understand the extent of the danger contained in words, and in the 19 years that have passed we have been speaking endlessly about incitement and democracy and learning lessons. But let's admit, courageously, that we have not learned anything since them, that no real conclusion has been drawn and that we probably haven't really internalized what happened.

 

That autumn, the day after the murder, I was asked to empty out the drawer of the slain prime minister's desk. In my heart, I call it "the drawer of his life": Half a pack of cigarettes, half a tube of toothpaste, half a box of antibiotics. Small items of a life which was cut short by one thrust of a murderer's bullets. This difficult memory never lets go of me and does not allow me to keep silent in light of another picture of a public figure in a keffiyeh.

 

Today I understand very well that the words don't always remain mute on the billboards or on the Internet. Sometimes they take their own course, which may end with violence that affects not only a person's life, but the foundations of the life and the image of an entire state.

 

Marit Danon was the personal secretary to prime ministers Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon.

 


פרסום ראשון: 11.05.14, 11:12
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