Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s fifth prime minster was assassinated on 09.30 on Nov 4, 1995, at the end of a peace rally. Yigal Amir, a right winged extremist, strongly opposed to the Oslo Accords, shot the Prime Minster.
The next morning my husband and I told our son what happened. He was three years old at a time but with everyone talking about nothing else, he would end up overhearing about the murder anyways so it would be better if her heard about it from us first. Our son burst out crying. He was frightened. The world didn’t seem a safe place anymore. We were not three years old, yet we felt the same.
We always thought about Israel as different from other nations. True Violence, the kind that resulted in physical harm to public figures, would never touch us, we believed. We might disagree. We might argue passionately. We might even resort to verbal abuse. But things would never go further than that, because at heart we all aspired to the same goal: peace and security.
Israel Left and Right always disagreed on the way to achieve peace and security. While the Left believed that the way to peace and security was to give up land, the Right believed that giving up land would compromise security and the existence of the State of Israel. With the Oslo Accords, the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist and agreed to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict peacefully. Israel recognized the PLO as the Palestinians’ representatives and endorsed Palestinians’ self rule is the West Bank and Gaza. The national debate about the accords was reflected in the Israeli parliament. The resolution to endorse the Oslo Accords passed with a meager majority of 61:59. And yet, nobody expected the public debate to spawn the vile assassination, least of all Yitzhak Rabin himself. When advised to wear a bullet proof vest he refused, saying that after surviving war he should feel safe walking the streets of his own country. His death symbolizes the end of political innocence.
Yitzhak Rabin was mourned by the entire nation, both Left and Right. He was a great man, a Founding Father. During the Independence War he commanded the Harel brigade that fought for Jerusalem. During the Six Days War Rabin served as Chief of Staff. On 1968 he served as the ambassador to the US. He signed a peace treaty with Jordan, and he received the Nobel Peace Prize with Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat for the Oslo Accord. Last week, 17 years after his death, thousands came to Tel-Aviv city hall square, that was renamed after his death to Rabin Square, for a rally to commemorate his death.
Bill Clinton ended the remarks he made in Rabin’s funeral with the words “Shalom Chaver” – goodbye friend. These words are forever now associated with Yitzhak Rabin who died on the altar of the Shalom.
1. Rabin’s Assassination: pictures from Nov 4, 1995
2. Rabin’s path will prevail, by Eitan Haber
3. On Rabin’s Legacy:Op-ed: Despite leftists’ claim, Rabin never publicly supported creation of Palestinian state within ’67 borders