An estimated 30,000 people crowded Rabin Square in Tel Aviv Saturday evening for a memorial ceremony and rally dedicated to assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Marking 18 years since the former prime minister was killed, Rabin's grandson, Yonatan Ben-Artzi, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make peace.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu, my grandfather was murdered because of peace, and you owe us all peace. For the first time in years, you have been presented with a special opportunity to take advantage of a unique global situation and make peace, thereby simultaneously resolving both the Iranian and Palestinian issues," he said in his speech.
Rabin was killed on November 4, 1995 by right-wing Israeli extremist Yigal Amir while participating in a peace rally. He was strongly criticized by many for the 1993 Oslo Accords that he signed with then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
David Dromlevich, coordinator of the memorial ceremony, titled "Remembering the Murder -- Struggling for Democracy," said: "We are jointly calling to the citizens of Israel to accept the cost of democracy on any terms. We will always remember the terrible incitement that existed; we will all fearlessly condemn every inciting or racist incident."
Among the speakers at the rally was former Immigrant Absorption Minister Yair Tsaban, who served in Rabin's government; Hadassah Froman, the widow of Rabbi Menachem Froman of the West Bank settlement Tekoa, who promoted peace through interfaith dialogue; and Rabbi Ze'ev Karov, a yeshiva head from the West Bank settlement Karnei Shomron. Popular Israeli artists including Achinoam Nini, Shiri Maimon, Shimon Bouskila, Assaf Amdursky, Kobi Oz and Groovatron performed at the rally.
Noticeably present at the Tel Aviv square where the assassination took place 18 years ago were members of youth groups from across the political spectrum. Seeing as this was the first year in which all high school students were born after the 1995 murder, the education system established memorial events created jointly for all students and youth groups to teach about Rabin as a leader and prime minister.
Eleven-year-old Roi Kroai said, "I wanted to see the place where Rabin was murdered because he wanted to bring good to people, and they did not respect that."
"What we have here is a coalition of lots of youth movements and organizations commemorating the biggest event to impact Israeli democracy. We are here to hold up a warning sign, because all the [future] diplomatic processes will be determined by the guidelines of democracy," said Roi Yesod, the coordinator of the youth movement Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed (Working and Studying Youth).
National Union of Israeli Students head Uri Rashtik said: "Students studying today in higher education institutes in Israel were youth and young children [at the time of the murder], but they still remember the event that changed the face of Israeli society. Especially nowadays, when we are witness to incitement against specific sectors of society, there is huge significance to strengthening the morals of democracy and combating violence."