Visiting Rabin Square
There are sights of religious significance like the Wailing Wall or the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; there are historical sights and interesting museums; there are vibrant markets and beautiful beaches; and then there are places like Rabin Square that are unimpressive, lack a long history and have still become popular destinations. If you come to Tel Aviv from a big city, you won’t be impressed with the square’s size and on a wintry day there is no reason to visit the sight. And yet there is something very Israeli about Rabin Square. So come to the square with a book or just buy a coffee, sit by the pool and watch the passersby.
Rabin Square is the main square of Tel Aviv. The big, grey rectangular building north of the square, which won’t win any beauty contests, is Tel Aviv’s City Hall. Various festivities, Independence Days celebrations, concerts, rallies, and large demonstrations are held at the square. On November 4, 1995, a rally in support of the Oslo Accords took place at the square. Toward the ends of the rally, Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister of Israel, was shot and killed by a Jewish assassin.
Following the assassination, the square was renamed after Rabin. Israelis often pride themselves on their unity, on the fact that everybody knows everybody, and that even after loud disagreements, people realize that we are all in the same boat. Rabin’s assassination pulled the rug out under these notions and became a national trauma.
The assassination was the climax of an ongoing conflict between the Israeli left and right stemming from the most significant political disagreement of the last 40 years. Until the 1967 Six-Day War, the split between left and right revolved around socio-economic issues. During that war, Israel liberated/conquered (depending on who you are asking) the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the Golan Heights from Syria, and the West Bank/Judea and Samaria (also depending on who you are asking) from Jordan. The results of the war greatly affected the political discourse in Israel. The left believes that the solution to the conflict lies in two states for two people, and that the Israeli control of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians harms Israel. The right, on the other hand, argues that the surrounding Arab states are violent, unstable, and untrustworthy, and that the hatred toward Israel and Jews preceded both the Six-Day War and the War of Independence.
Next to the spot where Rabin was murdered, a monument consisting of 16 basalt stones from the Golan Heights was erected. But it is the more authentic graffiti on the nearby walls that reveals the shock and bewilderment felt in the days following the assassination.
Holocaust and Revival monument
Another monument stands at the southern side of the square, at the corner of Ibn Gabirol and Frishman Street. Erected in 1975 by Yigal Tumarkin, a renowned Israeli artist, it resembles an upside-down pyramid and is titled Holocaust and Revival. The connection between the Holocaust and revival is key to understanding the essence of being Israeli. These two events with great significance for the Jewish nation – the Holocaust, in which a third of the Jewish population was annihilated, and the revival, the creation of the State of Israel – happened within a few years of each other. Tumarkin chose to employ two large three-dimensional triangles, which create the Star of David when seen from above, to represent these historical events. They are not equal in size; the smaller one supports the upside-down pyramid, which seems like it might fall at any moment. The space inside the monument is tight and suffocating, and its metal frame makes it feel like a prison cell. But when you are inside the monument and look upward, you will see how its opens toward the light, toward the sky, and toward hope.
More sights in Tel Aviv:
St. Peter’s Church – where Christianity separated from Judaism
Jaffa Port – the unimpressive gate to the Holy Land…
Eichmann’s Prison Cell
Sarona – from German colony to exclusive shopping center
The American Colony – Mark Twain, Herman Melville and John Steinbeck in Tel Aviv
Bauhaus – a style that defined Tel Aviv