At Rabin rally in Jerusalem, Labor chief rips Netanyahu, Ben Gvir over 1995 protest

In pre-election event at capital’s Zion Square, Merav Michaeli blames rivals for ‘organized and planned’ incitement that led to former PM’s murder 27 years ago

Labor party leader Merav Michaeli speaks at a memorial rally for former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin at Zion Square in Jerusalem, October 29, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Labor party leader Merav Michaeli speaks at a memorial rally for former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin at Zion Square in Jerusalem, October 29, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Labor party on Saturday held an annual rally to mark the assassination of former prime minister and party leader Yitzhak Rabin at Jerusalem’s Zion Square, in an event held three days before national elections.

During the event — which wasn’t attended by Rabin’s family members — current Labor leader Merav Michaeli slammed her election rivals, opposition chief Benjamin Netanyahu and far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir, over a right-wing protest against the Oslo Accords held at Zion Square in 1995, a month before a right-wing extremist murdered Rabin at a Tel Aviv rally.

“A great and brave Israeli leader who led Israel to great achievements and peace – was called here, by many people, a traitor. Here they shouted ‘death to Rabin,’” Michaeli said, referring to chants that were heard during the 1995 rally.

“Here, Itamar Ben Gvir handed out the poster of Rabin in SS uniform. The same Itamar Ben Gvir who now disguises himself as a care bear and is trying to hide and rewrite history,” she added, referring to the far-right Religious Zionism MK’s attempts to rebrand himself as more moderate.

Ben Gvir was a teenager during Rabin’s murder and was filmed threatening Rabin while holding an ornament taken from Rabin’s car.

Contrary to what Michaeli said, however, he isn’t known to have been behind the posters of Rabin in Nazi uniform that were seen during the Zion Square demonstration.

Itamar Ben Gvir seen holding up an ornament from prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s car, in an October 1995 interview. (screen capture: YouTube/IBA)

Michaeli also ripped Netanyahu, who like now was head of the Likud party and of the opposition at the time, for attending and speaking at the 1995 demonstration.

“On that balcony, over those chants, stood the leader of the Likud who organized the demonstration,” she charged. “Other members of the Likud at the time, who were similarly opposed to the Oslo Accords — Benny Begin, David Levy and Dan Meridor — left the balcony. They were not willing to be part of that terrible incitement. But not the Likud chairman. He stood over [the balcony], smiling and with great pleasure, satisfied with his great success.

Then opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu overlooks a right-wing rally in Jerusalem’s Zion Square in 1995. The slogan on the sign below him reads “the nation did not decide” and was the brainchild of Hagi Ben Artzi (screen capture: YouTube)

“Anyone who denies that Yitzhak Rabin’s murder was political and that the incitement against him was organized and planned against him, are complicit with the instigators who stood here in Zion Square in their attempts to rewrite history,” she said.

Also speaking at the event were former foreign minister Tzipi Livni and Labor activist Yair Fink.

Hebrew media estimated the turnout at around 1,000.

Then US President Bill Clinton, center, looks on as Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, left, and PLO leader Yasser Arafat shake hands in the East Room of the White House after signing the Middle East accord in Washington on September 28, 1995. (AP Photo/Doug Mills, File)

No members of the Rabin family attend this year’s rally, which came days before the November 1 election. The annual event is usually held on the Saturday immediately before or after November 4, the date Rabin was gunned down by Yigal Amir.

Traditionally held at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, the site of the assassination, the rally was held in Jerusalem this year due to construction work currently underway in the Tel Aviv square.

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