It is 20 years since the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin. It was the 12th of Heshvan, November 4, 1995. The Oslo accords had led to a heady, fraught and also promising peace process with the Palestinians. Prime Minister Rabin spoke to an enormous crowd in what is today named Rabin Square at a peace rally in Tel Aviv:
“For Israel, there is no path that is without pain. But the path of peace is preferable to the path of war. I say this to you as one who was a military man, someone who is today Minister of Defense and sees the pain of the families of the IDF soldiers. For them, for our children, in my case for our grandchildren, I want this government to exhaust every opening, every possibility, to promote and achieve a comprehensive peace.” (Read Prime Minister Rabin’s complete remarks here.)
The rally then ended with the singing of the popular Israeli song Shir L’shalom, A Song of Peace. A songwriter named Yaakov Rotblit wrote this song in 1969, in the wake of the Six-Day War, and at the height of the anti-war movement. In the song, the voices of the dead call to us from their graves:
No one can bring us back from the dead
Neither victory cheers nor songs of praise will help
Just sing a song of peace, don’t whisper a prayer
Just sing a song of peace out loud
…Don’t look back, let go of we who have departed
Lift your eyes with hope, not through the rifles’ sights
Sing a song of love, not war
Don’t say, “The day will come…”
Bring on that day!
Because it is not merely a dream
In every city square, shout out for peace!