Monday, November 03, 2003

Eldest had spent the night with a friend. It was her first time sleeping away from home. She was four. In the morning we met up in the park with Eldest, her friend and the friend’s parents, with whom we had become quite friendly of late. 'Coming to the peace rally, tonight?' We asked them. Rhetorical question. Everyone was going.

The friend's parents looked a bit embarrassed. 'Well, actually, we're not.' They said. Oops, I thought. I hadn't realized they were not ...erm ...well ... of the same sort of political views as us. How could that be? They were both secular, educated professionals, and native North Tel Avivis (unlike Bish and I). They must be from old "Herut" families, or maybe "General Zionists", I said to myself, trying to organize this strange new piece of information in my mind.

It's that 'Where were you when...?' time of year again for Israelis, and I'm sick of it. I'm sick of the annual Saturday night memorial rally, in Rabin Square, organized by the Rabin family as a Peace Now-style rally, making all those who don't feel very Peace Now-ish unwelcome, although he was their Prime Minister too. I'm sick of boring, repetitive, pompous school ceremonies depicting Rabin as some sort of mythical, unreal, superhero dead guy.

The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin changed my life. The most shocking, chilling words I have ever heard were those uttered by Eitan Haber, in the parking lot of Ichilov Hospital, just down the road from where I am sitting right now, announcing that Yitzhak Rabin was dead. "The government of Israel announces with astonishment and deep sorrow...". These words still choke me up, regardless of all that has happened since nationally, and to me personally. I think they always will.

But the annual memorial ceremonies leave me cold. And yet, I don't know how better Yitzhak Rabin or the assassination could be remembered.

Allison feels differently, or maybe not so differently after all.

I lost much of my starry-eyed innocence on the 4th November 1995. And I have learnt a lot in the years that have passed as a direct result of my attempts to understand what happened. One of the lessons has been to be more aware of those snap judgments I automatically make about people based on superficial details. Eldest and her little friend have grown up. We're still friendly with her parents. I still have no idea what their political views are. It's not important.