When It Comes to Rabin’s Murder, Some Israeli Schools Avoid the Topic Altogether

“List his date of birth, the positions he held, his date of death,” a worksheet marking the 24th anniversary of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, which falls on Sunday, instructed fourth-graders at one state school.

“That’s the terminology of the past decade,” says civics teacher Merav Ayalon of Kibbutz Ein Gedi. “They talk about ‘Rabin’s death.’ But he didn’t die; he was murdered.”

Ayalon believes the education system avoids directly addressing Rabin’s assassination and the public atmosphere that preceded it. Indeed, while the civics curriculum once mandated discussion of the murder, it no longer does so.

Some schools still do address the topic, but teachers say the discussion generally focuses more on rifts in Israeli society and less on the murder or the political atmosphere that led to it.

“There was a serious political schism that exists to this day, yet we don’t talk about it, because teachers are forbidden to express their opinions in class,” Ayalon says. “But we have to talk about how to prevent the next murder.”

There are schools that do talk about this issue. For instance, Dror, a state religious school in Jerusalem, devotes the anniversary of the murder to discussing divisions in Israeli society.

One year, principal Rani Hazon Weiss says, she invited the religious feminist group Women of the Wall to speak to the students; the next year, she invited ultra-Orthodox speakers. Both sparked fierce discussions, but her goal was “to create something positive from it, about tolerance.”