Prime time

Re-live the Rabin years in a no-holds-barred new museum. Ann Goldberg paid a visit

November 9, 2010

As you enter the recently-opened museum dedicated to Yitzchak Rabin and his legacy of peace and democracy, you are transported back to Kikar Malchei Yisrael (Kings of Israel Square, later renamed Yitzchak Rabin Square) on the night of November 4 1995. You hear the Prime Minister sing the "shir leShalom" at the Peace Rally, the pistol crack, and a few second later, the announcement of his assassination.

Once a Jewish assailant has killed an Israeli Prime Minister, can the society ever truly recover?

Yitzchak Rabin was Prime Minister of Israel during some of its most turbulent internal political crises and the Museum doesn't try and gloss over the controversies that raged at the time of his murder.

The museum building is designed in a downward spiral, with seven rooms leading off the main path, each one representing a decade of Rabin's life from his birth in 1922.

Using multi-sensory techniques, it tells, at one and the same time the story of Rabin's life and the birth of the fledgling State, through words, pictures, song, music and films. Rabin's life was so much a part of the developing state as he served as Chief of Staff, Ambassador to the United States, Defence Minister and twice as its Prime Minster.

The centre tells, at the same time, the story of Rabin’s life and the birth of the fledgling state

There is also one wall in each room explaining the disagreements within the society during that particular decade, the internal problems and dilemmas they faced. Dana Spielmann, the marketing director, explains that there is no attempt to hide the problems that faced its leaders and the controversies they were embroiled in, from the Sabra and Shatilla massacre when Israel was accused of enabling Arabs to slaughter Palestinian refugees in the refugee camps, to our own leaders' personal financial issues. The centre and museum are dedicated to helping repair the terrible split in Israel society that existed the months before and immediately after the assassination. Its aim is to show the importance of true democracy with respect for the rule of law together with tolerance from all sides, for all opinions.

Spielmann explains that the site of the Yitzchak Rabin Centre, which was inaugurated in 2005, has an intriguing background.

The hill was originally requisitioned for a secret emergency power station to supply power to Tel Aviv in the event of an enemy bombing. It was finished in 1956 on the eve of the Sinai Campaign but fortunately was never needed. The site was given for use for the Centre and the old walls of the power station form part of the building.

The Israeli Museum at the Yitzhak Rabin Center, which was opened in January 2010 is situated in Chaim Levanon Street a.k.a 'Museum Mile' between the Palmach Museum and Eretz Yisrael Museum. A visit is always much more enjoyable if you take a guided tour, but it is possible to take an independent audio tour using headphones which automatically start translating as you stand in front of a film.

The museum building is fully accessible to the disabled and it even provides folding chairs to take with you as you walk around, so that you can sit and watch one of the 180 films in complete comfort.

The museum is recommended for children over the age of 10. You should allow at least an hour and a half for your visit.

To book, call 00972 3 7453358

Last updated: 3:20pm, November 9 2010