A Letter to the Educator
It is six years since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin z"l. On the official Memorial Day, there are so many issues which can be raised, that the problem is more to choose those which have relevance for different age groups and different settings, beyond the structure and content of a memorial ceremony.
What has Israel and what have Israelis learned from this traumatic and bitter experience of assassination?
What values and messages should be highlighted, which dilemmas?
How has Israeli society changed, if at all?
How has the assassination changed the course of life, of nation, of peace?
No less important:
How can this day's importance be addressed in schools and communities outside Israel - where the link is less immediate and where many children were not old enough to be conscious of the assassination and its significance in 1995?
It is important to trace with older groups what has been impacting on Israel and Jewish communities since the Rabin assassination, in order to address the focus questions:
These have been years fraught with difficulties:
- political changes in Israel;
- leadership problems;
- social fragility and dissent which remain unresolved and have polarised on many issues;
- the death of Leah Rabin a year ago;
- steps forward and stumbling blocks along the road to peace;
- the breakdown of negotiations with the PA;
- the second Intifada, now entering its second year of violence, terror and response;
- the anti-Israel, antisemitic agenda of the UN Durban conference on Racism; America under Terror and in coalition against Ossama Bin Laden;
- the murder of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi by a member of the PFLP.
Rabin the Figure - real and remembered:
Time, shock, sentiment, politics and events have already changed the way Israel and the world remember Yitzhak Rabin.
It is important to explore the affective and the historical aspects of his life, to trace these changes, and ask how participants wish to remember him - and with what messages, in terms of which values. [See also biography on http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/100/people/bios/rabin1.html and activity on http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/actual/rabin/04.html ]
Yitzhak Rabin was primarily a military figure, turned politician, a national leader with "a sense of responsibility for the state" (Yehuda Harel, 2000), who had the capacity to lead a major Peace Process, the Oslo Accords. He took major risks in so doing, as any leader must; he knew that the moment of decision had come and might not return - but that it would not be overwhelmingly popular in Israel or the Arab world.
Rabin was subject to broad-based criticism for concessions in negotiations and how he dealt with the ongoing terror, but it was the socio-political rift in Israeli society and the fomentation of this hostile atmosphere within marginal groups which brought about the horror of political assassination in Israel by a young member of the peripheral right-wing.
Peace and Non-Violence in Society and the World:
From childhood, we educate children to behave with consideration, refrain from acts of aggression in dispute, resolve differences in peaceful ways, make peace with each other. This is part of our socialization ethic, the basis of subsequent education courses in civics and democracy.
Children can and should also be able to identify how this works in the adult world around them - and use this perspective to understand the significance of Israel's the hopes for Peace, on the one hand, and the heinous crime of assassination, on the other.
In Jewish Studies, it is appropriate to support these events and build a process of resolution with quotations from the Bible and Talmud about Peace, peaceful ways and appropriate inter-personal behavior, the Ten Commandments. [Read the Biblical sources]
To add relevance and underscore the personal integration of these messages, the educator should connect the abstract level and the "big items" with real-life situations - identifying mundane but important events such as: how best to handle and react in arguments, how to address bullying and other undesirable phenomena.
- For younger children, there are some examples of Peacemaking in visual and graphic art exercises [*];
- For high school, try a "Hall of Fame" activity - historical/contemporary Jewish and general figures who are perceived as Peacemakers and warmakers;
- For senior high and students, please look at "Lessons from the Past" and discuss whether Israeli society has indeed begun to heal the social rifts leading to the assassination. http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/actual/rabin/simul99.html
The Peace Process - Alive or Dead?
The Peace Process symbolized Israel's hope for a better political and economic future, and a better personal and national future - especially for young people who serve in the Israeli Army (IDF) and on reserve duty until age 45 or 50.
How do participants think it impacted on the sense of identity of young Israelis?
What did it symbolize for the participants?
Was it realistic in the circumstances?
If not, what factors were lacking on both sides?
It was controversial, the documents were not waterproof, but it was launched successfully [Dilemmas activity: http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/actual/wye/9.html ].
Trace the map connection: http://www.jajz-ed.org.il/100/maps/oslo.html
At the time of the Rabin assassination, there was already disenchantment with the Peace Process in Israel - both in terms of concessions and the ongoing waves of terror attacks:
In what way did the assassination impact on the Peace Process?
Why is Rabin's personality perceived as such a central factor to its progress?
When did the Peace Process founder - or was there a succession of events?
What are the hopes and realities of Peace for Israel today?