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Monday, November 10, 2008

Huge TelAviv rally to mark 13 yr aniv of Rabin assassination

Demonstrators holding stickers that read "peace" during Saturday's rally in Tel Aviv. (Tomer Appelba

Defense Minister Ehud Barak called right-wing Israeli extremists "cancerous growths" during a rally Sunday at the Tel Aviv square where former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated 13 ago.

"The violence is also creeping today, they once called them bad apples in the bunch, but today they are dangerous, metastisizing cancerous growths," Barak said.

Barak added that such extremists pose a serious threat to "democracy, rule of law, the Israel Defense Forces, the police, and all of the ruling authorities in a normal society."

At Rabin memorial, Barak calls right-wing extremists 'cancerous growths'

By The Associated Press and Haaretz Service
Barak also stressed the importance of peace, saying "we have no other country, and no other way, there is no alternative to peace," Barak said.

President Shimon Peres also addressed the crowd, saying, "Yitzhak, you are missed, but your way has not been lost." Peres implored those gathered to continue coming each year in memory of Rabin, saying that it is people like them who help Israel remaining democratic and safe from anarchy.

Later in the evening, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters James Hoffa, addressed the crowd, telling them how much of a friend they have in president-elect Barack Obama and how excited he is to be on his first trip to Israel. He then led the crowd in chants of "Yes we can!"

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni expressed her sadness at the loss of the beloved Prime Minister, saying "Yitzhak was my prime minister, he was yours, and he was the prime minister of all of those who are not here tonight and weren't there that night," referring to the peace rally 13 years ago where Rabin was murdered.

Saturday's rally in front of the Tel Aviv city hall has become an annual pilgrimage for ordinary Israelis to show respect for the beloved leader. Participants filled Rabin Square and spilled into the surrounding streets, some carrying signs and banners calling for peace and tolerance.

Rabin's government negotiated the first interim peace accord with the Palestinians, and he won a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.

Rabin was gunned down on Nov. 4, 1995, at the end of a peace rally by right-wing extremist Yigal Amir, an opponent of his policy of making peace with Palestinians