Rabin’s grandson panned for talking politics at memorial rally
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Rabin’s grandson panned for talking politics at memorial rally

Ex-PM’s son and organizers say Yonatan Ben-Artzi’s call for immediate Israeli recognition of Palestinian state deviated from nonpolitical character of event

Yonatan Ben-Artzi, the grandson of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, speaks at a rally in Tel Aviv on October 31, 2015 (screen capture: Channel 2)
Yonatan Ben-Artzi, the grandson of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, speaks at a rally in Tel Aviv on October 31, 2015 (screen capture: Channel 2)

The son of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin on Sunday criticized his nephew for pushing for the immediate Israeli recognition of a Palestinian state at a Saturday night rally commemorating the 20th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination.

Organizers on Sunday also denounced Yonatan Ben-Artzi’s remarks, telling Army Radio that it was a gross departure from the intended nonpolitical nature of the rally.

About 100,000 people attended the memorial rally in Tel Aviv, which was headlined by speeches by former US president Bill Clinton and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Yuval Rabin said the view espoused by his nephew in no way represented the legacy of his father.

Yuval Rabin visits the memorial to his father, slain Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, in Tel Aviv, October 22, 2014 [photo credit: Flash90]
Yuval Rabin visits the memorial to his father, slain Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, in Tel Aviv, October 22, 2014 (photo credit: Flash90)

Ben-Artzi, Rabin’s grandson, said at the rally that Israel ought to “immediately recognize a Palestinian state, without preconditions,” despite organizers’ directives that speakers remain apolitical.

“It’s not a matter of right or left. It’s our future. If we don’t make a change, we won’t be able to exist as a democracy; we will be forced into inequality and revoking the rights of the other,” Ben-Artzi said.

Thousands attend a rally marking 20 years since the assassination of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on October 30, 2015, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995 by an Israeli extremist during a pro-peace rally in Tel Aviv. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Thousands attend a rally marking 20 years since the assassination of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on October 30, 2015, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995 by an Israeli extremist during a pro-peace rally in Tel Aviv. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

In response, Yuval Rabin said his nephew was entitled to express his opinion, but was misrepresenting his father’s political stance.

“He is certainly allowed to express his opinion and this is very positive, but there is nothing in this statement that has anything to do with my father, who was opposed to unilateral actions,” Rabin said, according to Channel 2.

Organizers Danny Hirschfeld (of the Bnei Akiva movement) and Roi Saeed (of HaNoar Ha’Oved) said on Army Radio that they did not vet Ben-Artzi’s speech and had trusted him to respect the organizers’ wishes, and that he had let them down.

Hirschfeld said organizers had deliberated on whether to screen US President Barack Obama’s speech at the event but ultimately agreed that “when the president of the world” wanted to address an event, you don’t turn him down, he said.

In a bid to steer the rally away from politics, the organizers asked President Shimon Peres not to speak at the event. Peres accepted the request, and was instead a “guest of honor” at the rally.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin shake hands with former US president Bill Clinton during a rally marking 20 years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square on October 31, 2015. (Photo by Kobi Gideon/GPO)
Israeli President Reuven Rivlin shakes hands with former US president Bill Clinton during a rally marking 20 years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on October 31, 2015. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Rivlin gave the opening speech at the event, welcoming former US president Bill Clinton who spoke later, and vowing not to be silenced by extremists.

Rivlin and other speakers addressed the crowd from behind a bulletproof glass screen, organizers said, days after Hagai Amir, brother of Rabin assassin Yigal Amir, had posted on Facebook that the president would soon “depart the world.” Hebrew media reports said the screen had been installed at the last moment, at the request of American security officials and that Israel’s Shin Bet security agency had no objections.

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