For the Monday of the Birthright trip of 2011, we started by visiting Rabin Square, and learning of the story of יצחק רבין Yitzhak Rabin, before going to Jerusalem and the Old City. Find the original post by clicking on this sentence.
Both the Monday and Tuesday of the Birthright trip had the most emotionally-intense occurrences of the trip, and unfortunately, these strong emotions came from stories of violence. I hate to talk about it, but feel like I really need to, particularly with the well-publicized stories of the last six weeks (Orlando, St. Paul, Baton Rouge, Munich, Turkey, etc.)
One of the most powerful things that we did at Rabin Square, after learning a little bit about the legacy of יצחק רבין and the story of his assassination, was to go around the square and try to talk with residents about it. Naturally, for Israelis, the day of his assassination was a Pearl-Harbor or September-11 flashbulb memory.
What I have learnt in the last few weeks, particularly ever since Philando Castile was killed, was that it is important to talk to others about violence, fear, and other negative emotions, to bring to light what can happen, learn from each other, and find ways to increase peace in the world. (Yesterday, I went to a Black Lives Matter “Stand For Something Sunday” at the Minnesota governor’s mansion, and it was a wonderful spectacle.)
Hearing different perspectives really makes it clear that the world is not a binary place, and that there ARE two sides to every story. The assassin was an extremist Jew, and the assassination was celebrated by some Jewish extremists in the North, according to one person that my group talked to. No matter what the general picture paints, there are always “bad apples” within a cart of good apples, and even when a population is described as “bad,” there are probably mostly good or neutral people. (For example, the mainstream media focused more on the non-BLM people who made the I-94 protest look violent than the non-violent protesters on the highway.)
And it is much more powerful to hear the stories from ordinary people who actually witnessed either the event or the reactions to the event as is. Sure, they may have their own spin on it, but it seems like “naive” opinions are more genuine than what the standard media or publicists will portray. There are always two sides to each story, and I have found that a high point of critical thinking is to analyze both sides of the story.
Although the picture of the bloodied שיר לשלום (The Song for Peace) was not a primary source (since it was a picture, rather than the actual document), the evidence is still undeniable.
Not only was the park and fountain area a memorial to רבין, but the place where he was killed was an outdoor museum, with the positioning of each significant person marked off, both on a wall and on the ground (see the next two pictures).
Another parallel that connects my experience from five years ago to yesterday is the wall of consolation. A wall near this site has the Hebrew word סליחה (Sorry) along with various graffiti, stickers, and other artifacts that are well wishes, prayers for peace, etc. This is much like the posters, pictures, and calls to action that I saw at the Governor’s Mansion yesterday.
Though I am not a historian, I think it is very important to pay attention to primary sources, and to realize that even the primary sources can show two sides of the story. In some sense, this was also brought to light two days ago, when, after services, we discussed the book Children of the Stone.
Although the Western Wall and the Old City were important to me, I think that the social justice and “talking about difficult topics” was a more appropriate topic for today’s reflection. Particularly since there was a protest in eyesight after we left the Rabin memorial… but thankfully it wasn’t over anyone’s death.
Check out the remaining entries in this sequence!
[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 6 of 11] Primary Sources (You are here)
[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 8 of 11] Coming soon!
[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 9 of 11] Coming soon!
[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 10 of 11] Coming soon!
[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 11 of 11] Coming soon!
Kenosha: 7 days.
Orientation: 21 days.
Day 1: 44 days.