1995 - Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated: our world seemed to be crumbling around our ears. We grieved, wept and hoped that "others" would learn lessons from this tragedy.
We sang songs of hope, awaited perspective and improvement, devised tolerance & reconciliation workshops, and analyzed the social and political phenomena - ad nauseam.
One year later we mourned in remembrance and asked a number of questions, including how to remember Yitzhak Rabin, aware that it was a new culture, rather than not a personality cult which we wanted to develop.
Three years on, we had an official memorial day but the opinion leaders proclaimed we had learned nothing and the social climate in Israel had actually deterioriated. Violence and aggressive behavior are pandemic from schools through highways to the Knesset itself. Yet we belittle ourselves in this comprehensive condemnation: there are so many good qualities in Israeli society, in ordinary people - since when has criticism without some praise and some feasible alternatives ever reformed anyone?
The simulation below has been developed around one central goal and associated objectives, set around the emotional upheaval and ideological issues involved in the process of: Grappling with Saying Sorry and Changing Behavior Patterns
Foreword: Saying Sorry
We all know that accusations and counter-accusations in our own lives get us nowhere. When things go wrong, it is usually not just one party which is at fault, there is a dynamic, regardless of who started it all. We need all-around meaningful apologies. The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin was considerably more significant than a disagreement between groups of people, and its roots lie in various conflicts within Israel. It will be an enormous challenge to try to steer so many interest groupss in one society in new directions - but we all know from our own lives that there are times when this must and can be done.
The impact of public apology can only be imagined: can we bring about a day when the left and right wing will say they were wrong - when they expressed themselves to extremes and incited public outcry, heating up the atmosphere and animosity, albeit because they felt their ideas were ignored, but that this was the wrong way to behave - and that they won't do it any more?
Stage I: Hyde Park
The moderator is calling together all the lobbies and major groupings of Israeli political life into a Hyde Park situation where each lobby, with its major personalities, is going to set up a "soapbox" and canvass "public" support. Description cards are provided for each of the groupings.
Five minutes are allowed for preparation; 10 minutes are allowed for all soapboxes to run concurrently.
Stage II: New Reality
The moderator announces that Israel cannot build itself or peace with others in this social environment and that 4 years after the Rabin assassination, it is everyone's responsibility to take part in creating a new atmosphere and reality.
Each lobby or grouping must now prepare a public apology to specific groups with which it has been at odds, and one to the general public. This ceremony will take place before a figure of note (President, Ambassador, Consul, member of the Rabin family).
The statement must include:
1. We apologize to... for...
2. We apologize to the Israeli public for....
3. We share with others here....
4. We respect all the other groups at this forum because they are entitled to their legitimate viewpoints in a democracy...
5. We am committed to upholding the rule of law and the protection of all civil rights...
6. We intend to make the following changes in our campaigning, public relations...:....
20 minutes are allowed for preparation, during which lobbies can consult with other groups. Groups start by defining how they believe other groups see them and to which groups they will need to find a bridge, and regarding what issues. The moderator should encourage the groups to take this big step into a new future, and keep an eye on their progress.
Stage III: The Ceremony
The moderator opens the ceremony and gives the floor to the guest of honor [see ideas in Appendix 2 below].
The moderator then calls each grouping in turn to come to the front and make its statement.
The guest of honor receives the statements with hopes for the future.
A poem or psalms can be read; Kaddish - El Maleh Rahamim is said.
Was it difficult to begin working on the apology?
What happened when you had to face the reality of making this apology and setting out new game rules?
Do you think this can contribute towards improving the atmosphere in Israeli society?
Do you see parallels in ordinary life?
Role Descriptions for Groupings - see Appendix 1
Judea & Samaria Settlers' Council
National Religious Party
United Torah Judaism
Appendix 1 - Role Descriptions for Groupings
See also lobbies on: http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/festivls/zkatz/atz/etzion8.html
Parties on http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/actual/elections/outlook.html
Members of the 15th Knesset on http://www.mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH00jq0
Knesset bios on http://www1.knesset.gov.il/asp/mk/mkindex15_eng.asp
Shalom Achshav - Peace Now
Leader: Mossi Raz. Includes politicians from the Labor Party and Meretz, with youth movements like Hashomer Hatzair and Habonim Dror, plus wide sections of the unaffiliated public.
Shalom Achshav was launched in July 1977 by a letter signed by 300 IDF reserve officers. The letter urged Prime Minister Menachem Begin to hand back the West Bank and Gaza Strip in order to advance the chances of peace agreements. Its slogan was: "Peace (shalom) is better than the whole (shelema) Land of Israel."
Shalom Achshav warmly welcomed the Camp David Agreements in March 1979. Its members have since protested against every government measure which they consider to be a stumbling block to peace, such as the proposal to expand existing West Bank settlements, or to add new ones. Their demonstrations today also appeal for the supremacy of democracy in political decision-making, and most of its supporters would prefer a secular State.
Judea & Samaria Settlers' Council
This is a representative body and more in the public eye today than the GUSH EMUNIM - "BLOC OF THE FAITHFUL" movement
which was the original political lobby for settlement in Gush Etzion, Judea, Samaria, and later in the Jordan Valley & the Gaza Strip.
Gush Emunim was formally set up in Kfar Etzion in 1974, by members of the National Religious Party, the Land of Israel Movement, students of the Yeshiva Merkaz Harav, and members of the Bnei Akiva movement. They were responsible for the establishment of a large number of settlements in the territories, sometimes following violent confrontations with the authorities. In many ways, they developed new models of small rural and urban communities - some religious, some secular, and some mixed.
They work to implement their belief in the fact that the creation of the State of Israel is the "beginning of the Redemption", which will lead to total redemption through the settlement of all the territories situated west of the Jordan. Today, the focus of their work is to represent their constituents' needs: for personal security, the contribution of clusters of Jewish settlements to state security, the need for more housing for growing communities - against the threat of geographical isolation and even eviction, in the Final Status talks with the Palestinians.
A party now led by Minister Eli Ben Yishai but still dominated by the figure of Rabbi Ovadia Ben Yosef. Shas feels it has achieved representation for a religious and traditional Sephardi constituency which has been ignored and repressed and which can now speak out for its beliefs. In particular, it makes recriminations about the early socialist parties treatment of Olim from Arab lands who were encouraged to reject Jewish religious observance and how this is enshrined in legislation and the justice system.
See also http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/actual/draft4.html
National Religious Party
Led by Minister Rabbi Yitzhak Levy, the NRP has lost some of its hawkish supporters to other parties and lobbies, but stands firm by its support of "settlements" under the Rule of Law. Many of its constituents live in Judea & Samaria, but its views are somewhat more moderate than those of the Settlers' Council's most vocal representatives. The party's views on the Jewish nature of life in Israel are also central to an area of public controversy.
See also http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/actual/draft4.html
Appendix 2 - Speaker's Notes for Guest[s] of Honor [use those ideas* which are relevant!]
No-one of us can undo the tragedy of the Rabin assassination, but together we can change the political and social climate in our society and thus prevent the threat of another assassination in our country. This country is home to all of us: we need to adjust to the fact that with the most imaginative vision of the future it is still necessary to live with reality.
It is no easy task, but I feel it is my privilege to be part of this process. The time for demagogic demands to all and sundry that everyone respect each other has passed - we must all try to make demands on ourselves, instead, and be our own critics as to whether we have lived up to our promises. Let us begin with ourselves - all of us.
For my own part, I wish to say that a person gives up much his or her privacy when he or she takes public office. We may even lose touch with the everyday realities of ordinary life and be insensitive to stress or distress caused by our weighty decisions of state or our behavior towards marginal groups. We need to explain why we make these decisions, we must uphold the rule of law with integrity in our own behavior.
I apologize for my own previous insensitivity to the acute distress generated by my own focus on one important political goal, to the detriment of other issues and other viewpoints. I will endeavor to listen to these positions more attentively, offer more explanations, discuss them as a priority, but in the context of the other issues on our agenda.
I apologize for my intense criticism of those with different positions and my impatience, which have a disproportional influence on the public because of my public position. I will express myself in more sympathetic and moderate terms and allow others the right to present their ideas in an environment of debate.
I regret that I have isolated myself in what others see as an elitist environment in which I do not represent the people in my political constituency or a real sector of the public, but myself, my position, and the ideas of a small circle around me. I will seek out wider ranges of opinion, I will advocate use of professional and specialist advice rather than relying on sources connected to sectorial or political expedience.
I accept that our society is legitimately composed of a wide range of opinions, and that all those which do not advocate the destruction of the state are entitled to my attention and respect, and they will receive my consideration. This is part of democracy, as the decision of the majority.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to those who have come together today to apply the lessons of mistakes made by all of us and make a new beginning possible.