Sunday, November 13, 2005

Rabin Memorial, November 2005

A few words about tonight's 10-year memorial ceremony for Yitzhak Rabin at Rabin Square:

- Attendance - several hundred thousand - was tremendous. Literally, a sea of people

- Security was massive and logistically, quite impressive. Several days prior, police barricades were erected outside the city hall, memorial site. This morning, police patrolled the podium area, square and memorial. By afternoon, roughly 5 hours pre-ceremony, dozens of police were on the square with armed, military back-up. By nightfall, security was at full volume. Barricaded streets, detours, X-ray machines for bags and backpacks, blocked entrances...I've never seen anything like it at an open-air, public gathering.

- The evening highlight was not, as anticipated, Bill Clinton's speech with wife Hillary and daughter Chelsea at his side. It was folk singer David Broza's stirring rendition of "Yeheeyeh Tov" (It'll Be Alright), tailored to foster a message of peace and suggesting withdrawal from the territories.

- Clinton's quiet speech, however (was his microphone turned off or is he suffering a bout of laryngitis?), was in its own way poignant. Pointing out that had Rabin been there this evening, he'd have told everyone: Enough mourning already. Get on with it - was 100%. Do I believe that he thinks about Rabin on a weekly basis, as claimed in his speech? Actually, yes. I think there was a tremendous connection there.

There were other highlights: speeches, performances, ballads... But the peak really was the turnout. Surrounded by thousands upon thousands who were there to mark the date, there was a feeling of hope that has been missing in these parts for a very long time. Time will tell.

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