As we approach the 22nd anniversary of the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the Darkenu movement and the Commanders for Israel’s Security are preparing to host the largest event of its kind: the memorial ceremony in Rabin Square. Each year Israelis come together with a statement of purpose: to not forget the incitement and divisiveness that led to the murder of our country’s leader. On the largest stage in Israel, quite literally, the message we convey is also an opportunity to help set the tone for our civil and political discourse.
This year, we choose to also remember the life of Rabin that we were so devastated to lose. Instead of just focusing on the incitement, the hatred, and the polarization that led to this horrible event, we want to move forward.
I was a young 22-year-old idealist and peace activist in Kikar Rabin that night. I will never forget the deep sense of loss, mourning and depression that I felt — that the majority of Israelis felt — and in fact people all over the world. It wasn’t just an incredible life we lost that night. We lost our sense of hope, the belief that Israelis have more in common than what brings us apart, and the possibility of real peace for a generation, at least.
Hosting such an important event is a responsibility that we don’t take lightly. Together with the Commanders, we want mainstream Israelis of all stripes, all walks of life and all political persuasions to feel like this rally is for them. Because it is.
Darkenu is the largest movement of moderates in Israel, now with over a quarter of a million members and chapters across the country. The Commanders are a coalition of over 270 retired IDF Generals (and equivalent ranks in other security services). Together, we represent a critical mass of everyday citizens and security experts alike who want to take back the agenda and realize the vision that Prime Minister Rabin worked so hard to further — a secure and democratic Israel at peace with its neighbors — and with itself.
Under the title “On November 4th, We Remember: We Are One People!” we will honor the legacy of Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin was a model of what it means to be a courageous, determined, and a Zionist leader. We want to convey that while debate is the lifeblood of democracy, it must not poison the nation it aims to serve.
That is why we are breaking tradition and purposefully eschewing the participation of Knesset members, focusing not on promoting one politician or party over another, but instead on the overarching and nonpartisan values that unite Israelis. We want to bring people together at another moment in our nation’s history when it feels like we are at risk of doing this again — of tearing our society apart by focusing on the differences. We choose unity, and invite everyone to join us.