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Days—and Heroes—to Remember

embassies.gov.il

This evening Israel will begin the observance of Yom Hazikaron—Memorial Day—and the next evening it will begin the celebration of Yom Ha’atzmaut—Independent Day. Thus, the country will mark its sixty-ninth years of existence, and will usher in its seventieth year. By first observing the memory of all the fallen soldiers, it will continue a tradition—not without some controversy—that had been enacted into law in 1963. In later years, following the Six-Day War and its aftermath, the memory and honor of remembrance has been extended to include civilian victims of political violence, and terrorism in general.

While the memory of each and every fallen soldier is dear and singular—I will remember a number of them myself, whom I knew personally and had had the honor to count, if for such a short period of time, among my dear friends and brothers-in-arms—none will be remembered and missed more, both as a fallen soldier and as a victim of political violence, than the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin; assassinated on the altar of peace by a zealot, fervent, messianic, religiously-fanatic Israeli Jew in November 1995. Together with him, the peace between Israelis and Palestinians had died too. And since then—yet to be resurrected.

It is to the understanding and observation of yours truly—who was born in Israel, fought in a number of its wars and major operations, but now lives (mostly) among the Jews of America—that when we look on these sixty-nine years of independence with clear eyes and open mind, we cannot avoid the conclusion that the ‘political assassination’ of Yitzhak Rabin, who quite possibly was the greatest war-hero and independence-warrior Israel had ever known, was one of the three, maybe four most crucial events in the short history of the modern county since it had gained independence. Like the Six-day war of 1967, the Yom Kippur War of 1973, and the peace agreement with Egypt to follow it in 1979, this singular event—i.e. Rabin’s assassination—and its aftermath, had changed dramatically the course of the nation.

The last page on that tragic and momentous event in our history is yet to be written. And though many words had been said and had been written about it, the cloud of mystery surrounding that terrible death and murder is still looming large, dark and heavy. One brave attempt to shade some light on that mystery is the film ‘Rabin, The Last Day,’ by the well-known and well-respected Israeli film director Amos Gitai. His 2015 Israeli-French docudrama, released here theatrically last year, is a political thriller of the first order, depicting the events surrounding the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin—with footage never before seen of the actual moments of assassination—in the days leading to it, and its aftermath, including the governmental committee inquiry to follow.

We will screen this film at the KOH Library, in the Culture Center of Mosaic Law at 2pm on Sunday May 21. I will make an introduction to the film, and after the screening I’ll lead a discussion—believe me, there is a lot to be discussed—about it. The film is not easy to watch, or digest for that matter, but nothing easy ever had much of a value to it; especially when it comes to such a tragic, complex event. Rightfully, the reviews for the film were mixed. “Rabin, the Last Day is not interesting in spite of its flaws as a film. It’s interesting because of them,” wrote A. O. Scott in the NY Times. “Frequently horrifying and never less than absorbing, Rabin, the Last Day is a meticulously observant portrait of a broken society.” Wrote Matt Fagerholm, on his Roger Ebert’s dedicated blog.

The film, correctly so, raises more questions than answers. But this is exactly why it’s so important that we will watch it; that we will pay attention to the old stories and new revelations; that we will discuss them, and try to answer them to ourselves, and to others. It is of the utmost importance, then, not only because this was one of the most ‘successful’ political assassination in the bloody history of mankind, but because the implications to the state of Israel and its people, and to the future of the Jewish people as a whole, are still vibrating, and loudly, with a lot still at stake.

On the occasion of the screening we will also celebrate the ‘Nine-year Anniversary’ to this blog, with this being the 121 continuously monthly post. I hope you’re enjoying the ride, just as I do, and that you will continue to visit this site, read my posts, reflect and comment. And please, join us at the screening of the film on May 21.

* The “Leave a Comment” link is the last tag below, in blue.

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2 Responses

  1. It’s tough to say, as for me Israel being a Jewish and democratic state is strongly linked and cannot be separated. If it turned out to be a one state solution, then first and foremost it should be democratic, where all religions and culture identities allowed to be freely practiced.

  2. The dilemma you conclude with, whether Israel is to be a Jewish Sate or a democratic state, is often posed. I’d like to ask you: which of the two do you suppose is preferable? and: would either of them be stable?

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