Thursday, November 4, 2010

15 Years ago today, the world lost a great leader of Israel

Yitzhak Rabin Memorialized In Tel Aviv

TEL AVIV, ISRAEL - NOVEMBER 12: In this photo released by the Rabin Heritage Center, former U.S. President Bill Clinton bows his head at the spot where Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated 10 years previously, during a memorial rally November 12, 2005 in Tel Aviv, Israel. At Clinton's right is Rabin's daughter Dalia Rabin-Pilosof and at left, Clinton's daughter Chelsea Clinton.

November 3, 2010
Finish Rabin’s WorkBy BILL CLINTON
TODAY marks 15 years since an assassin’s bullet killed my friend, Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister. Since his death, not a week has gone by that I have not missed him. I loved him and his wife, Leah, very much. On the occasion of the anniversary of his death, his yahrzeit, the world would do well to remember the lessons of his life: his vision for freedom, tolerance, cooperation, security and peace is as vital now as it was 15 years ago, when he happily spoke and sang for peace at a huge rally in Tel Aviv just before he was killed.

Rabin was utterly without pretense. When David Ben-Gurion sent him as a young man to represent Israel during armistice talks in 1949, he had never before worn a neck tie, so a friend tied it, and showed him how to loosen it so he could preserve the knot for future use. True to form, two weeks before his assassination, he arrived in Washington at a black-tie event without the black tie. We borrowed one for him, and I still smile whenever I think about straightening it for him, just as Hillary does when she remembers how he complained when she made him go out on the Truman Balcony to smoke.

The story of Yitzhak Rabin and the story of Israel are intertwined. He took up arms to defend Israel’s freedom, and laid down his life to secure Israel’s future. When he came to the White House in 1993 to sign the Declaration of Principles with the Palestinians, he was a military hero, uniquely prepared to lead his people into a new era. Before shaking the hand of Yasir Arafat, a man he had long considered his mortal foe, he spoke directly to the Palestinian people:

“Enough of blood and tears. Enough. We have no desire for revenge. We harbor no hatred toward you. We, like you, are people — people who want to build a home, to plant a tree, to love, to live side by side with you in dignity, in empathy, as human beings, as free men. We are today giving peace a chance, and saying again to you, enough. Let us pray that a day will come when we all will say, ‘Farewell to the arms.’”

A decade and a half since his death, I continue to believe that, had he lived, within three years we would have had a comprehensive agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians. To be sure, the enemies of peace would have tried to undermine it, but with Rabin’s leadership, I am confident a new era of enduring partnership and economic prosperity would have emerged.

In many ways Rabin was ahead of his time. The end of his life overlapped with the emergence of the most interdependent age in human history, the explosion of the Internet and the era of globalization. The ties that bind the Israelis and the Palestinians — in his words, two peoples “destined to live together on the same soil” — are a powerful example of the connections that tie us all together across the globe. We are linked in so many ways that we cannot get away from each other.

Therefore, each in our own way, we must all take up the cause for which Yitzhak Rabin gave his life: building a shared future in which our common humanity is more important than our interesting differences. We can all do something, in our communities or around the world, to build the positive and reduce the negative forces of interdependence.

Rabin was a hard-headed idealist. His great gift was to keep the public’s trust while taking measured risks for peace. This approach was best reflected in his own guiding principle: he would work for peace as if there were no terrorism, and fight terrorism as if there were no peace process.

If he could speak to us today, he would ask us to remember him not by mourning what might have been, but by looking clearly at the opportunities and obstacles to peace and getting on with the work at hand.

There is a real chance to finish the work he started. The parties are talking. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has the necessary support from his people to reach an agreement. Many Israelis say they trust him to make a peace that will protect and enhance their security. Because of the terms accepted in late 2000 by Prime Minister Ehud Barak, supported in greater detail by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and approved by President Mahmoud Abbas and other Palestinians, everyone knows what a final agreement would look like.

The remaining issues can be resolved, and the incentives to do so are there. Israel has its best partner ever in the Palestinian government on the West Bank led by President Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, with its proven ability to provide security and economic development. The peace alliance put together by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia offers Israel full political recognition and the prospect of security and economic cooperation with a host of Arab and other Muslim nations in exchange for an agreement. And many Arab states are engaged in their own economic and social modernization efforts, which prove they are ready to let go of past differences and eager to reap the possibilities of cooperation with Israel.

Meanwhile, the United States government remains committed to maximizing the benefits and minimizing the risks of peace, a conviction shared and manifested by President Obama; Secretary of State Clinton; George Mitchell, the administration’s special envoy; and their colleagues.

On that shining, hopeful day in 1993, Yitzhak Rabin stood on the White House lawn and spoke like a prophet of old when he said, “We are today giving peace a chance, and saying again to you, enough.”

Let us pray on this anniversary that his service and sacrifice will be redeemed in the Holy Land and that all of us, wherever we live, whatever our capacity, will do our part to build a world where cooperation triumphs over conflict. Rabin’s spirit continues to light the path, but we must all decide to take it.

Bill Clinton, the founder of the William J. Clinton Foundation, was the 42nd president

I like this photo of both President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin

Yitzak Rabin: you were truly a amazing Prime Minister for the nation of Israel, you were truly marked as a martyr for peace, You did your best for the future of Israel! You will always be remembered for that role as a great prime minister of a wonderful nation. Here is to you, Mister Rabin!remembering you after 15 years, may you rest in peace!

Yitzhak Rabin

Yitzhak Rabin (1 March 1922 – 4 November 1995) was an Israeli politician and general. He was the fifth Prime Minister of Israel, serving two terms in office, 1974–1977 and 1992 until his assassination in 1995. In 1994, Rabin won the Nobel Peace Prize together with Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat. He was assassinated by right-wing Israeli radical Yigal Amir, who was opposed to Rabin's signing of the Oslo Accords. Rabin was the first native-born prime minister of Israel, the only prime minister to be assassinated and the second to die in office after Levi Eshkol.


Rabin was assassinated by Yigal Amir, a radical right-wing Orthodox Jew who opposed the signing of the Oslo Accords. The shooting took place in the evening as Rabin was leaving a mass rally in Tel Aviv in support of the Oslo process. Rabin was rushed to the nearby Ichilov Hospital, where he died on the operating table of blood loss and a punctured lung within 40 minutes. Amir was immediately seized by Rabin's bodyguards. He was later tried, found guilty, and sentenced to life imprisonment. After an emergency cabinet meeting, Israel's foreign minister, Shimon Peres, was appointed as acting Israeli prime minister.

Rabin's assassination came as a great shock to the Israeli public and much of the rest of the world. Hundreds of thousands of Israelis thronged the square where Rabin was assassinated to mourn his death. Young people, in particular, turned out in large numbers, lighting memorial candles and singing peace songs. Rabin's funeral was attended by many world leaders, among them U.S. president Bill Clinton, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and King Hussein of Jordan. Clinton delivered a eulogy whose final words were in Hebrew — "Shalom, Haver" (Hebrew: שלום חבר‎, lit. Goodbye, Friend).

The square where he was assassinated, Kikar Malkhei Yisrael (Kings of Israel Square), was renamed Rabin Square. Many other streets and public institutions in Israel have also subsequently been named after him. After his assassination, Rabin was hailed as a national symbol and came to embody the Israeli peace camp ethos, despite his military career and hawkish views earlier in life.[23] He is buried on Mount Herzl. In November 2000, his wife Leah died and was buried alongside him.

There is much debate regarding the background of Rabin's assassination. There are a number of conspiracy theories related to the assassination of Rabin.

After Rabin's assassination, his daughter Dalia Rabin-Pelossof entered into politics and was elected to the Knesset in 1999 as part of the Centre Party. In 2001, she served as Israel's Deputy Minister of Defense.

President Bill Clinton's Eulogy at Yitzhak Rabin's Funeral, Nov. 6, 1995

Leah, to the Rabin children and grandchildren and other family members, President Weizman, Acting Prime Minister Peres, members of the Israeli government and the Knesset, distinguished leaders from the Middle East and around the world, especially His Majesty King Hussein, for those remarkable and wonderful comments, and President Mubarak for taking this historic trip here, and to all the people of Israel, the American people mourn with you in the loss of your leader and I mourn with you, for he was my partner and friend. Every moment we shared was a joy because he was a good man and an inspiration because he was also a great man.

Leah, I know that too many times in the life of this country, you were called upon to comfort and console the mothers and the fathers, the husbands and the wives, the sons and the daughters who lost their loved ones to violence and vengeance. You gave them strength. Now, we here and millions of people all around the world, in all humility and honor, offer you our strength. May God comfort you among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Yitzhak Rabin lived the history of Israel. Throughout every trial and triumph, the struggle for independence, the wars for survival, the pursuit of peace and all he served on the front lines, this son of David and of Solomon, took up arms to defend Israel's freedom and lay down his life to secure Israel's future. He was a man completely without pretenses, all of his friends knew. I read that in 1949 after the war of independence, David ben Gurion sent him to represent Israel at the armistice talks at Rhoads and he had never before worn a neck tie, and did not know how to tie the knot. So, the problem was solved by a friend who tied it for him before he left and showed him how to preserve the knot, simply by loosening the tie and pulling it over his head. Well, the last time we were together, not two weeks ago, he showed up for a black tie event, on time, but without the black tie. And so he borrowed a tie and I was privileged to straighten it for him. It is a moment I will cherish as long as I live.

To him, ceremonies and words were less important than actions and deeds. Six weeks ago, as the King and President Mubarak will remember, we were at the White House for signing the Israel-Palestinian agreement and a lot of people spoke. I spoke, the King spoke, Chairman Arafat spoke, President Mubarak spoke, our foreign ministers all spoke, and finally Prime Minister Rabin got up to speak and he said, "First, the good news - I am the last speaker." But he also understood the power of words and symbolism. "Take a look at the stage," he said in Washington. "The King of Jordan, the president of Egypt, Chairman Arafat, and us, the prime minister and foreign minister of Israel on one platform. Please, take a good hard look. The sight you see before you was impossible, was unthinkable, just three years ago. Only poets dreamt of it and to our great pain, soldier and civilian went to their deaths to make this moment possible." Those were his words. Today, my fellow citizens of the world, I ask all of you to take a good, hard look at this picture. Look at the leaders from all over the Middle East and around the world who have journeyed here today for Yitzhak Rabin, and for peace. Though we no longer hear his deep and booming voice, it is he who has brought us together again here, in word and deed, for peace.

Now, it falls to all of us who love peace and all of us who loved him, to carry on the struggle to which he gave life and for which he gave his life. He cleared the path and his spirit continues to light the way. His spirit lives on in the growing peace between Israel and her neighbors. It lives in the eyes of the children, the Jewish and the Arab children who are leaving behind a past of fear for a future of hope. It lives on in the promise of true security. So, let me say to the people of Israel, even in your hour of darkness, his spirit lives on and so you must not lose your spirit. Look at what you have accomplished, making a once barren desert bloom, building a thriving democracy in a hostile terrain, winning battles and wars and now winning the peace, which is the only enduring victory.

Your prime minister was a martyr for peace, but he was a victim of hate. Surely, we must learn from his martyrdom that if people cannot let go of the hatred of their enemies, they risk sowing the seeds of hatred among themselves. I ask you, the people of Israel, on behalf of my nation that knows its own long litany of loss, from Abraham Lincoln to President Kennedy to Martin Luther King, do not let that happen to you. In the Knesset, in your homes, in your places of worship, stay the righteous course. As Moses said to the children of Israel when he knew he would not cross over into the promised land, "Be strong and of good courage. Fear not, for God will go with you. He will not fail you, He will not forsake you."

President Weizman, Acting Prime Minister Peres, to all the people of Israel, as you stay the course of peace I make this pledge - neither will America forsake you. Legend has it that in every generation of Jews, from time immemorial, a just leader emerged to protect his people and show them the way to safety. Prime Minister Rabin was such a leader. He knew, as he declared to the world on the White House lawn two years ago, that the time had come, in his words, "to begin a new reckoning in the relations between people, between parents tired of war, between children who will not know war." Here in Jerusalem I believe, with perfect [unintelligible] that he was leading his people to that promised land.

This week, Jews all around the world are studying the Torah portion in which God tests the faith of Abraham, patriarch of the Jews and the Arabs. He commands Abraham to sacrifice Yitzhak. "Take your son, the one you love, Yitzhak." As we all know, as Abraham, in loyalty to God, was about to kill his son, God spared Yitzhak. Now God tests our faith even more terribly, for he has taken our Yitzhak. But Israel's covenant with God for freedom, for tolerance, for security, for peace - that covenant must hold. That covenant was Prime Minister Rabin's life's work. Now we must make it his lasting legacy. His spirit must live on in us.
The Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for mourning, never speaks of death, but often speaks of peace. In its closing words, may our hearts find a measure of comfort and our souls, the eternal touch of hope. "Ya'ase shalom bimromav, hu ya'ase shalom aleinu, ve-al kol Israel, ve-imru, amen."

Shalom, haver.

(The last lines in English: "May God who makes peace in the heavens grant peace for all of us and for all of Israel, and we say amen. And goodbye, friend.")

1 comment:

  1. Rabin's grieving widow, Leah, refused to shake hands with the Likud's Binyamin Netanyahu, one of the staunchest and most vitriolic opponents of Rabin's peace overtures, but shook Arafat's hand. "I feel that we can find a common language with the Arabs more easily than we can with the Jewish extremists," she said.

    The Likud and other revisionist Zionists, the right-wing religious parties and the settler movement oppose the peace process because they advocate the annexation and settlement of the whole of Eretz Israel (Land of Israel), the vaguely-defined Biblical territory which God "promised" to Abraham. "Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel," reads the Likud party's platform.