Clinton gives speech at 20th anniversary ceremony in Tel Aviv Saturday night, attended by over 100,000; Obama gives televised address, stated “The U.S. commitment to the security of the state of Israel will never diminish”; Israeli President gives speech
Former United States President Bill Clinton gave a speech to over 100,000 Saturday evening, in a national ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of the murder of Israel’s former prime minister, Yitzchak Rabin. President Obama additionally gave a short televised speech.
The memorial ceremony was held at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, the location where Yigal Amir assassinated Rabin on November 4, 1995. Several Israeli leaders and family members of Rabin gave speeches, with musical performances to the massive crowd.
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin welcomed Clinton, giving his own speech where he called for unity, most of his speech focused on Israel’s strength amidst constant threats. He stated that Israel “will not become a sacrifice on your altar of violence and fear. To those who seek to silence others, to those who threaten, to those who raise their clenched fists, to those who design pictures of SS uniforms, to those who threaten members of the legislature and judiciary, to those who threaten ministers and prime ministers, I want to say to them all: We do not fear you.”
He went on to state, “We are standing here today, together, facing the crosshairs of that murderer, facing the hatred of violent, extreme margins, in order to say: You will not defeat us. The Jewish and democratic State of Israel, the Israel of the Declaration of Independence, will not fall victim to your violence and intimidation. Never.” Addressing the recent wave of violence through out Israel, Rivilin stated, “Even in the midst of the current bloodshed, even in the face of the heinous terrorism which does not distinguish between Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion, Beersheba and Kochav HaShachar, Israel’s democracy has not ceased to realize its strength and resilience, and for this we are today filled with pride.”
Speaking on the nation of Israel’s strength and constant hope, he stated that, “Two decades have gone by, and still we remain overly focused on the wounds of the past, and not enough on building the future… Too much are we focused on fear, and not enough on hope. We should have no fear. Israel’s democracy is solid enough, and we are brave and strong enough to open wide Israel’s gates, so that all the groups within us may play an equal part in shaping the character and future of the State of Israel… We share a common Israeli dream. While we may debate the path, we are dreaming together of an Israel led by the beacon of justice; of an Israel determined to continue forward in the vision of the Prophets of Israel.”
Former U.S. President Clinton spoke of his memory of Rabin, and called on Israel to “decide whether Rabin was right”. He stated that, “Rabin’s legacy is clear and untouchable” stating, “I always thought the role of the United States was to provide whatever help necessary to ensure Israel’s security, maximize the benefits of peace and minimize the risks. But the decision is yours…. The next step in the magnificent story of Israel… the next step will be determined by whether you decide that Rabin was right, that you have to share your future with your neighbors, that you have to stand for peace, that the risk for peace isn’t as severe as the risk of walking away from it. We are praying that you will make the right decision… He gave his life so that you could live in peace. What does it all amount to? Now that is up to you all of you now must decide when your leave here tonight… how to finish the last chapter of his story.”
In his televised speech, Obama stated, ״One the night he was taken from us, he looked at the thousands gathered and said that the path of peace was preferable to the path of war, and he exhausted every opening, every possibility in the pursuit of a just peace.” Then speaking on the United States’ commitment to Israel’s security he stated, “As you stand here for the future you believe in, know that the U.S. commitment to the security of the State of Israel will never diminish… Peace is necessary if both sides are willing to make compromises and take risks for the only real solution – two states for two peoples. A bullet can take a person’s life, but his spirit, his dream of peace, will never die.”