Ofra resident Esther Brot announced that she would not be speaking at the Saturday night rally marking the assassination of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, saying that there was “campaign of slander and incitement” against her.
Brot, whose home was among the nine demolished in March after the High Court ruled they had been built on private Palestinian land, explained her decision to bow out in a post on Facebook published Friday.
“At the moment, it seems that the (Rabin) square is not ripe for my appearance. In recent days, extreme leftists have come out against me with a campaign of slander and incitement,” she wrote.
Brot had made headlines last week when she told Israel Radio that both the left and the right were responsible for the incitement that led to Rabin’s murder in November 1995. “There is incitement on the right and on the left. Both sides have to be careful and we cannot just say that it will not happen again,” Brot inisted then.
Rabin was shot dead 22 years ago by an Orthodox, right-wing extremist, Yigal Amir, who opposed his attempts to make peace with the Palestinians. Rabin had just finished addressing a peace rally in the Tel Aviv square that was later renamed in his honor.
This year’s rally has drawn controversy for the decision to hold it under the slogan “We are one people,” and include speakers from across the political spectrum, including representatives of the ultra-Orthodox and settler communities.
“On the 22nd anniversary of the Rabin assassination, it’s time to look ahead,” organizers said. “To the Israel we all want to see and live in. One that, despite differences, advances that which unites over that which divides. One that strives to realize the spirit of the declaration of independence” and to bring about “a model society. One that can come about, if we choose it.”
Also Saturday, Rabin’s son Yuval Rabin decried the “delegitimization” of his father and efforts to “rewrite the history” of his legacy.
“There is also a process of delegitimization here, the creation of an infrastructure for rewriting history,” he said. “I don’t want to name names or point fingers, but everyone knows there is a process that serves [the] political interests of all sorts of actors.”
In Brot’s Facebook, she slammed those who were opposed to her speaking. “They have turned me into a lawbreaker who harms democracy. All I planned to talk about was the importance of unity for democracy.”
“They miss the fact that pluralism is not just meant to be toward the LGBT community… They are not able to reach out for unity if it is not uniform.”
Brot said that she realized that her appearance would “not penetrate hearts, but rather poison them” and decided to bow out accordingly, saying that the rally “is not the place for this and not the day for quarrels between right and left.”
However, she clarified that would be attending the rally and appearing in a pre-recorded video that would be screened for the thousands expected to be in attendance.
While Brot will not be speaking, settlers will still have representation on the rally stage in the form of Efrat mayor Oded Revivi.
Commenting on his invitation to address the memorial, Revivi told Channel 20 last week that it was “an important recognition that the right is also part of the Jewish people.”
“For many years the rally was politicized. It was a rally that in effect housed just half of the nation and said to the other half that ‘Rabin’s murder did not belong to you.’ They even sharpened the message, saying ‘the murder was because of you.'”
Added Revivi: “At the end of the day, the prime minister who was murdered was everyone’s prime minister, and therefore we all need to learn the lessons and come to our senses.”
Still, Brot told The Times of Israel that she knew of very few setters who would be joining her in Tel Aviv. “People are very skeptical of the rally’s agenda. Even though it is not going to be political, the lead-up to the event definitely was.”