Tuesday marks the 19th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. As has been the case every year since that awful evening on November 4, 1995, the event that rocked Israel to its core is commemorated across the country at various venues, most prominent among them at the actual site of the murder.
Yes, it is in the Tel Aviv square next to City Hall (which came to be named after Rabin) where politicians, celebrities, intellectuals and anonymous peace-camp adherents gather annually to mourn.
The ostensible purpose of these vigils is twofold: to denounce the cold-blooded murder of the late leader at the hands of a Jewish Israeli who opposed his policies, and to keep the victim's legacy alive. Their real aim, however, is to bash Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu specifically, and anyone in general who does not share the false view that Israel is to blame for the absence of peace.
The fervor and attendance of these memorials has waned somewhat over the years. This is only partly due to the passage of time, and the fact that an entire generation was born after the assassination.
The other reason for the ebb runs deeper. When the political-religious fanatic Yigal Amir pulled the trigger on Rabin, he granted the Israeli Left the much-coveted moral high ground. At the time, anyone who was against the Oslo process, which magically transformed arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat into a legitimate "peace partner," was accused of war-mongering and told to engage in "soul-searching."
Never mind that Arafat was openly calling for the annihilation of Israel and the killing of Jews. He had stopped doing so in English, and that was good enough for the peace fantasists. Reserving his jihadist speeches for Arab-speaking audiences -- you know, the ones who were being called to take up arms -- Arafat learned that all he had to do to get the world on his side was to camouflage his rifle with an olive branch, and all would be forgiven.
Unlike then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, Rabin's longtime nemesis, Rabin was not so much a peacenik as a leader who had been beaten down by the beautiful people and international pressure. His response was to drink the Kool-Aid and go for the Nobel Prize. The only thing that must have put a damper on his pact with the devil was to have to share this holy grail with Peres and Arafat, to whom he also had an aversion.
Nevertheless, his capitulation to a process that was certain to encourage the Palestinians to proceed on their path of violence as a way of destroying Israel from within and without turned him into the Left's darling. But his true anointment as a hero and a saint came posthumously. Even Peres began to laud him, taking on the role of chief eulogizer.
Which brings us to Netanyahu.
At the time of the assassination, Netanyahu was the head of the Opposition. The Left blamed him and his supporters for Rabin's death. It was incitement, they said, that led to a schism in Israeli society, with the Right on the wrong side of the divide.
This was and still is nonsense, of course. Though it is true that political tempers in Israel always run high, responsibility for this particular rift lay and still lies with the Arab assault on the Jewish state. But the Left always conveniently omits this part of the equation.
Rather than acknowledging that Netanyahu has served more terms as prime minister than any other Israeli politician precisely because the electorate keeps being mugged by the reality that no Palestinian leader will accept the Jewish state, the peace camp directs its vitriol at Israeli realists.
Instead of waking up to the fact that Rabin was wrong -- and that the repercussions of the Oslo process continue to drip blood -- they hold on to his "legacy" for dear life. When fewer people turn up at rallies on his behalf, the Left says that Amir not only killed Rabin but also slaughtered the "peace process," and that the Right has prevailed.
Funny how they never fault the actual killers of the possibility for peace.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat's literal and figurative successor, is the beneficiary of this bald-faced lie. And since those who disseminate it dominate the cultural discourse, they have greater influence than the ballot box indicates.
Abbas knows this better than anyone. A weak and despised leader within the PA, he has spent most of his rule on the verge of resigning or being ousted. He is opposed by rival Fatah members and loathed by Hamas. And yet, thanks to the Israeli Left and the international community, he is given standing ovations at the U.N., and has now been tasked with overseeing the rebuilding of Gaza.
He no longer even has to pretend to be a moderate.
Take his latest display of support for terrorism, for example. Last week, Islamic Jihad member Moatez Hijazi shot Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick several times at point-blank range. Glick survived the targeted assassination attempt (though he remains in serious condition).
Hijazi was killed during a shootout with Israeli security forces.
Abbas responded by sending a condolence letter to Hijazi's parents. "It is with anger that I received news of the crime carried out by the killer terrorist gangs of the Israeli occupation army against your son…, who has gone to heaven as a martyr for the Palestinian people," he wrote on official PA stationery.
On Saturday night, the first of two main ceremonies for Rabin was held in Tel Aviv. It was called "Returning to the square, restoring hope." (The second, titled "Remembering the murder, fighting for democracy," will take place this coming Saturday night.) Not a single Arab participated. But Yuval Rabin, the son of the slain prime minister, announced from the podium that he had received a letter from Abbas, saying that a peace deal would "deal a critical blow" to terrorism. What Abbas really meant was that it would deal a critical blow to Israel.
This is Rabin's legacy. May it rest in peace.
Ruthie Blum is the author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"