Israel will mark the 20th anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination at the annual commemoration rally held at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Oct. 31. Former US President Bill Clinton is scheduled to speak at the event as is Israeli President Reuven Rivlin. The person who won’t be there is former Israeli President Shimon Peres.
The resounding absence of Peres, Israel’s ninth president, symbolizes a transformative process in Israeli society over the last 20 years. The Israel of Rabin and Peres, of the Oslo Accord and the peace process, of optimism and hope is, alas, no longer. Israel 2015 — the Israel of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and former Minister Avigdor Liberman — is an insular, unyielding, distrustful and sober state. Even the pursuit of a peace process is practically considered illegitimate. Oslo has become a four-letter word, and the current wave of terror is bringing out the basest instincts and rattling already tense nerves. Democracy is being weakened, radical elements are gainning strength and the fundamental values of the Jewish state are under constant attack.