This past week, Boston-Haifa Shinshinim Young Ambassadors Dor Yohay and Nisso Bejar had the honor of speaking at a program hosted by the Consulate General of Israel to New England. The evening featured Dalia Rabin on the lasting legacy of her father, Yitzhak Rabin. As representatives of the next generation, Dor and Nisso shared their perspective on Rabin’s continuing legacy. See below for a video of their speeches and read what they had to share.
Hello everyone and good evening, my name is Dor Yohay. I’m 19 years old and I came to volunteer with the Jewish community in Boston. I chose to do this service year because I wanted to learn about the life of Jews outside of Israel and I also wanted to represent Israel as an ambassador.
I believe that my desire to serve Israel before I join the IDF next year is related to Rabin’s legacy. The fact that he fought in the IDF to keep Israel safe and later in life fought equally hard for peace truly inspires me.
Today I want to share with you the first memory that I have of hearing the name Itzhak Rabin.
14 years ago, I was a 5-year-old kindergarten student. My teacher told us about our former prime minister and about the things that he did. When I came back home that day I didn’t remember the specific stories that my teacher told us but the person’s name was etched in my mind.
When my mother came home from work and I asked her about Itzhak Rabin she started to cry.
She told me what a great man he was, and how he did things not just for Israel, but for all of humanity.
Last year, the principal in my school made additions to the annual Rabin Memorial ceremony. The idea was to prepare a lesson about Rabin and talk with the students in a different way. The head coordinator called me to his office and asked me to create this lesson for all of the seniors and of course I agreed to do this honor. I struggled with what to make the lesson about until I was reminded of what my mother told me so many years ago. I told the seniors what a great man he was, and how he worked not just for Israel, he worked for humanity. For example, signing the peace agreement with Jordan and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. The lesson went well and I felt proud that I had the opportunity to share stories about this amazing man.
Outside of Temple Emunah where I work there is a sign that says “support Israel, support democracy.” This sign inspires me every time that I see it because I know the Jewish community in Boston supports Israel and, like Rabin wanted from us, we will support Democracy with all our heart.
Good evening everybody. My name is Nisso Bejar. I am 18 years old and was born and live in Haifa.
I wanted to share with you how Yitzak Rabin’s legacy affected me, even though I wasn’t alive when he was assassinated. Like Dor, I learned about Yitzak Rabin when I was young. I remember, in particular, the lesson my teachers shared with us about the signs calling for violence and hateful language that had been used leading up to Rabin’s assassination.
During my years as an instructor in the Israeli scouts, I had many discussions with Israeli teens about the limitations of freedom of speech in our Democracy. The Israeli students believe that we need limits on hate speech because we learned from Rabin’s death that hateful language can lead to acts of violence and even assassination.
Last month Dor and I made a presentation about Yitzak Rabin’s legacy at Needham High school. We talked about the issue of hateful language and asked the students to think about the limits of freedom of speech and how far they thought a Democracy should go in tolerating hate filled speech.
I was surprised that the American teenagers reached a different conclusion from the Israeli teenagers even after we taught them about the hateful language that led to Rabin’s death. The American students understood the damage that inciteful speech can have but believed that there should be no limit to freedom of speech in a Democracy.
From these two experiences, I understood the impact of Rabin’s life and legacy on Israelis. After his assassination, I think that the Israeli mentality changed. There was a willingness to limit hateful speech in order to prevent such a tragic event from happening again.
I think this dilemma is complicated but we need to learn from Rabin’s life and death that language has power. Language can be used to communicate and negotiate with our enemy when making peace but it can also be used for hate speech, incitement and can lead to violence. We have to be aware of the consequences of our language and responsible in how we express ourselves.
I believe that one of the best aspects of Israel is the diversity of people. But this diversity also comes with a great responsibility to accept the other and acknowledge that there are some people that hold different ideas and opinions. We should learn from this terrible experience that the key to living peacefully in a diverse country is using communication to unite and not to divide the people.
I think we learned this lesson from Rabin but I also believe we have a long way to go.