4 November 2006

Noa performs at Yitzhak Rabin's memorial (Israel)

Tens of thousands turn out in TA to honor Rabin
By Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service and Itim , By Amiram Barkat

Tens of thousands attended a memorial rally in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square last night, marking the 11th anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. Police estimated the attendance at 100,000.

Novelist David Grossman, the evening's keynote speaker, said in his address, "There is a feeling that there is no king in Israel these days. The [country's] political and military leadership is hollow."

"There was a war, Israel flexed an immense military muscle, but hiding behind it were [Israel's] shortcomings and vulnerability," said Grossman, whose son was killed this summer during the war in Lebanon.

The crisis Israel is facing is much deeper than we feared, in almost every respect," Grossman said.

"The deaths of young people are a terrible, screaming waste, but no less terrible is the feeling that, for many years, the State of Israel is wasting not only the lives of her sons, but also the miracle [of the creation of the state], the opportunity to create an enlightened and democratic nation here."

Grossman called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to talk to the Palestinians about "their deep wounds and their grief." He encouraged Olmert to "understand their ongoing suffering. Doing so will in no way diminish your or Israel's status in future negotiations."

The memorial for Yitzhak Rabin has taken place in the square every year since his assassination in 1995, but unlike previous rallies, this year's memorial did not include any politicians among its speakers.

The rally's organizing committee, numbering some of Rabin's close friends among its members, made the decision not to invite politicians. "The decision was not to exclude politicians, but to change the format," one of the committee members told Haaretz.

Speaking before the event, she said that in recent years, politicians invited to speak at the memorial used their address to promote themselves. "However," she added, "despite the absence of politicians, the rally will certainly be political."

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