The annual events surrounding the date of former prime minister Yitzchak Rabin’s assassination was kicked off on Sunday with a ceremony produced by the Council of Zionist Israeli Pre-Army Preparation Programs.
Some 1,000 youth from over 50 pre-military programs led a ceremony on Sunday morning for the second straight year under the title “Debate as Brothers.”
The ceremony dealt with the importance of national unity and respectful discourse. Participants included Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Dalia Rabin, Rabbi Yaakov Ariel, Professor Yuli Tamir, poet Eliaz Cohen, former MK Tehila Friedman and others.
“Rabin’s murder taught us more than a little and changed us more than a little,” he said. “As a society, we learned how dangerous incitement and hatred can be.”
“But we also learned another lesson, [which is] the danger in slandering entire populaces, and how damaging stereotypes can be by pushing away the other,” he said.
“The kippa came back onto my head after the murder,” he confessed. “At the time I was a company commander in [special forces unit] Maglan and I remember the hardships aimed at the religious Zionist community. This is precisely why I returned the kippa to my head. It was my personal response, and it brought with it an important insight: To do everything in my power in order to bring people closer, remove barriers and encourage unity. We are one nation. These are not slogans, they are our prerogative,” he concluded.
Following the ceremony, the youth made their way to Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square and hosted group discussions.
Also on Sunday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Blue and White) participated in the ceremony “Remember in Song” in Gan Shmuel.
“This moral imperative is especially important today, when we see the disease of violence,” he continued. “We have a mission to connect the Arab community, make it a part of us, and provide all its needs,” he said.
The official day of commemoration is Monday, and the state ceremony will be held at Mount Hertzl in Jerusalem. Opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he would not be attending, even though previous heads of opposition traditionally participated in the ceremony.