Thursday, November 03, 2005

Spine Chiller

Before I get started, this is in no way a political post leaning leftwards, but I'm sure the odd idiot out there will take exception to something or other I, if you are an idiot, please read no further.

Tomorrow sees the 10th anniversary of the Rabin assassination. Can you remember where you were 10 years ago tomorrow?

Crazy, eh? 10 whole years, 10 years since we heard those spine-chilling words read from the PM's spokesman at the entrance to Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, pronouncing the death of Rabin, followed by cries of despair from the crowds surrounding him. I don't do spine-chilling much, as She might vouch, but this is a moment which almost gets my tear-ducts juicing up...

I'm guessing most of you (at least those in Israel, or those connected in some way to Israel) know exactly where you were when you first heard the news that Rabin had been shot. I know exactly where I was. I was shopping with my then girlfriend, as it was actually her birthday, and we had gone out to celebrate. Don't remember where we'd been before we walked into Super-Pharm (and don't remember her much, if I'm honest, though every Rabin anniversary flashes me back to this moment when we were together) but we heard some of the cashiers talking about somebody getting shot. When we asked, they looked at us in surprise: "What, you didn't hear? Rabin was shot!"

I remember us making our way back to her parents' place (unable to talk as we were on the back of my scooter, and probably numb with nothing to say anyway) and entering a noisy house complete with TV blaring. My girlfriend's father had his head in his hands and was mumbling to himself that he wished he hadn't said the things he'd said about Rabin. As you can guess, her father leaned so far to the right he was walking on three limbs...

It wasn't long before the confirmation of Rabin's death came through and the trauma that was solely Israel's was underway. Who can't forget the endless crowds at Kikar Malchei Israel (eventually renamed Kikar Rabin), the candlelight vigils, the tearful kids that seemed to take it the hardest, the funeral procession, Clinton's magical "Shalom Haver" ("Goodbye, friend") quote. And then, we moved into the blame process, with endless stories of conspiracies, undercover agents, "rabid right-wingers" and "looney lefties"...and despite the trauma, a cleverly-waged election campaign from Netanyahu saw the right-wing Likud take over the governmental reins only a few months after Rabin's death. Oslo and any dreams of peace were dead and buried for now.

You know what's most galling about this 10th anniversary? That his killer, Yigal Amir, the one with that arrogant sneer that really needs wiping off, is still in the headlines. What with his ambitions of procreating with his nutter groupie of a wife and fresh announcements of a cover up, he still fronts our newspapers, still has his face greeting me when I access news websites...

10 years on and there are still people who don't appear to have learned. Conspiracy theories still abound, but it looks like most are clutching at straws. A myth has been created, even Rabin himself has become a myth and comes out smelling like a true hero, despite his obvious flaws. I'm a big advocate of free speech, but how this guy is getting away with publishing his theories and doctored pics of Peres, I don't know. Sad stuff.

10 years on, eh?

Well, do you remember where you were when you heard Rabin was shot?


Trollmama said...

Yes, i remember where i was.

In the back of a "tendeh" van, driving home from my Kibbutz "oop North", feeling very uncomfortable as the seats were not terribly well padded, and despite my own well-paddedness, there was *something* sticking out of the seat and into me.

Not exactly an auspiscious way to remember what i consider to be one of the most important historical epochs to occur in my lifetime, not to mention something that affected me very deeply. (Still, that's how it goes, doesn't it? When i heard about John Lennon's death, i was on a tube train at Wembley Park Underground station, on my way to school. But I digress. Ahem.)

Anyway, numb and stunned, much like more or less every other person in the country, on arrival at my home I ran stright in and glued myself to the radio for the rest of the night. I remember the following morning, travelling to Tel Aviv on the bus - the bus was full and absolutely silent. That -- i'm sure you and She would agree - is something a person doesn't forget ever. And seeing the posters as the week unfolded. And hearing the songs that to this day i still associate with that memory.

Spine chilling indeed, He. But beautifully written. Thank you.

zahava said...

I was home on chufshat laida with my second and watching the news. It was horrifying. All I could think about was shocking that this could come from OUR people. It is truly a horror that most sane people can not get over.

Less shocking, I am sad to say, are the antics of today. Rember the Kennedy assignation?! Is it any wonder that conspiracy theories abound? I guess I am jaded, but I don't expect much more from a man who could gun down a fellow Jew in cold blood.

zahava said...

Which, by the way, is NOT to say that I would advocate the killing of a non Jew in cold blood. Just to be clear.

Even with the knowledge that there is in fact a criminal element even with in Jewish society, I guess I am still naive enough to find a Jew killing a fellow Jew to be something beyond the pale.

Liza said...

We had just dropped my parents off at the airport (and I even remember that we'd spent the day at the Safari in Ramat Gan, and that I'd had a stomach ache that day), and while paying the parking lot attendant, he told us something like, "I think I may have just heard that it's possible that Rabin might have been shot." Pretty vague, eh? Well of course we turned the radio on straight away to find out what was happening. Nothing. Still business as usual. We assumed it had just been a rumor, but left the radio on, just in case.

Soon enough, the reports started coming through. Rabin had indeed been shot. I remember that my initial thoughts were, "please, don't let it be some crazy American Jew who pulled the trigger," which I suppose must not have been a very far-fetched notion at the time.

We arrived home from the airport (fortunately, we only lived 15 minutes away at the time) and immediately turned on the television, where we sat glued to the screen watching the story unfold.

I will always remember the great sadness and disbelief I felt when his death was announced outside the hospital, as I'd been sure that they would be able to save him. I remember going to work the next day, and how wherever I went, people didn't smile - they just looked sad. I remember the secretary crying. I remember leaving work early on the day of the funeral with my friend G, how we went back to her house to watch the funeral on television. I remember how everybody just seemed so lost. It was as though a pall of depression had just settled over the entire country.

One strange thing that happened was how my parents, who had been at the airport here when it happened, didn't actually hear about it until the next day after they landed and were in their car driving home. Turning on the radio, they caught the end of the news report which mentioned the assassination, and were dumbstruck. They'd been in the air for 12 hours, and during that time, the world had simply changed.

lisoosh said...

I was cleaning a small carpet in my apartment and listening to Cat Stevens. My roomate/boyfriend (now husband) called and told me that Rabin had been shot. I was in shock. He rushed back and we took the TV from our other roommates room and locked the front door so he couldn't get in (long story) and sat glued to the TV for the rest of the night.