Press Release

Hundreds Turn Out For IDI/Ynet Symposium on the Assassination of PM Yitzhak Rabin

IDI President Yohanan Plesner decries the recent "knives of terror" as "directed at the heart of Israeli democracy."

More than 200 people attended a Tuesday symposium on the assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. At the event, former Mk Gideon Sa'ar said, "We are sick of words."

"It is important to remember the determination that [former Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin showed in the struggle against terror. He used tough means: expulsion and removing the blue identity cards and/or residency cards of those who incited violence or sent their children to carry out terror. We should do this," said former MK Gideon Sa'ar during the closing remarks of the Israel Democracy Institute's Symposium on the Rabin Assassination and Israeli Democracy. The event, co-sponsored by Ynet, took place from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. today (Oct. 20) at the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv.

Sa'ar, speaking of Rabin's legacy to a packed house of more than 200 people, said, "We are sick of words. The attempt to build oneself up by disqualifying whole sectors of the population … is a blow to the basis of Israeli society. … Politics that is based on inciting the public is unacceptable."

He continued: "Israel is thirsty for leadership … that can take initiative and that is not satisfied with simply responding to incidents … that knows its role is to serve the people and not the opposite. Israel needs leadership that is ready to pay a price for a path that it believes in and will lead."

Throughout the event, speakers ranging from Israeli writer and publicist Marzouk al-Habib, educator and politician Dr. Yifat Bitton, Efrat's Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, and IDI's professors Mordechai Kremnitzer and Yedidia Stern, dialogued through panel discussions about peace, equality and the lessons we can garner today from Rabin, who was murdered on the 12th of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan (Nov. 4) in 1995.

IDI President Yohanan Plesner said, "The current wave of terror is not just an attack on personal and national security. The knives of terror are directed at the heart of Israeli democracy. In order to deal combat them, we require a democracy that is unshakeable.

"The Rabin assassination was a terrible attack and painful proof of how fragile Israeli democracy is. Today, 20 years later, we are seeing one of the broken lines of Israeli society blow up with the current tensions between Jews and Arab. A situation where citizens harm one another is unacceptable."

View a recording of Plesner's speech (in Hebrew).

MK Isaac "Bougie" Herzog called to resuscitate the idea of a two-state solution, noting that a binational state in which Jews and Palestinians live side-by-side ("Isra-stine") would result in a state of struggle, "which would be violent and horrible."

"The separation between the two communities and nations must be implemented on a political level. … Terrorism will be the result of a binational state. I believe that is where this government is headed," Herzog said. "A leadership that discriminates against one sector of the population causes continuous hatred. … The desire to separate from the Palestinians [and give them a state] is not about loving Arabs, it is the only Zionist solution."

In contrast, Riskin, who co-founded Efrat in 1982 after moving to Israel from New York City, where he garnered acclaim as the rabbi of the Lincoln Square Synagogue, said he believes that Arabs should be granted full civil rights in a Jewish state so long as they are willing to follow basic moral laws. He also said that in Rabin's spirit – "He was a man of peace, a man of security … a secular man that respected religion" – that he believes "with all my heart and soul" that Jews and Arabs, those on the center and those on the periphery, those with religious and those with nationalistic outlooks could live together in the state of Israel.

View photos from the event>>