Here's a man of contemporary history who changed the geographical map and set the political one in a direction that was thought to be impossible. His character was strong and his accomplishments integral to the cause of his compatriots. As a war commander, he made decisions so intricately vital that he suffered a nervous breakdown but then this breakdown seemed to make him stronger as a politician.
"Had Yitzhak Rabin been in the ranks of the Arabs, the Middle East map would be different today." my father once told me. "Well, either that or he would had been liquidated internally" he continued. Dad was referring to the Israeli who not only managed to defeat a huge Arab coalition, he also took from them bounties that would help him engage in a peace process from a position of strength.
Mr. Rabin is a controversial character to many who don't see him as a man of simple but grand goals. He is seen as a warrior of logical perceptions by people who understand what every period demanded during the building phases of modern day Israel. This is a man who led the displacement policy that affected over 50,000 Palestinians and sanctioned the use of brutal force against unarmed demonstrators. Yet, he is admired by many of those he had fought against.
The admiration comes because of the way he carried himself; the way he argued. Also, he's admired because of his determination to reach results. Most of all, he is respected for his dedication to peace even when it meant creating internal enemies who mobilized thousands upon thousands of Israelis yelling "Traitor" to his face.
Yitzhak Rabin did not strike the Arab world as another Israeli politician who tried to gain votes with hate speech and irrational war threats. He was perceived more as a man who did what he had to do to further the cause of his people. Even when his victories' credit was stolen by others, he never seemed to mind as long as his nation was victorious.
My father's comment about Mr. Rabin was made about 25 years ago. Maybe I did not quite understand what he said but now that I am older and have a deeper understanding of the nature of societies, I see what my father meant.
In a peek time of Arab tyrants where big names like Abdul Nasser, Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi had existed, people were used to seeing leaders wearing military uniforms with more stars and medals than a whole platoon of officers. That is a bit of intended exaggeration just to show the reader how we felt like as citizens of those countries. The point is, these leaders not only didn't earn those decorations, they should had been stripped of any they had for the losses and misfortunes incurred upon their armies and countries.
On the other hand, Mr. Rabin was an accomplished soldier. His list of victories was long and his dedication to the armed forces outstanding. Still, he never wore a ton of decorations. This made the educated part of the Arabic people envious. They actually wanted a Rabin for their own. That is what my father meant by his first phrase.
The second phrase, however, reflected an even sadder Arab nation epidemic; that of marginalizing or assassinating any dedicated nationalist who brings a chance of real victories and end of war simply because if the war ends, and there is no more reason to fight then the great majority of politicians who built their careers on conflicts and hate would need to retire and that means the end of their thefts and dictatorships. It might even mean the incoming of fresh peacetime technocrats who would expose all the crimes and treasons that their predecessors had committed.
Yitzhak Rabin didn't really have to engage in peace to be admired by us; his career achievements and the love he had for his nation were enough. Him, reaching out to Palestinians, is just an added bonus for admiring him more. He did it in spite of powerful internal objections and in spite of a peace partner who did not represent all his people.
Mr. Rabin, you have a title that is very rarely given in history, you are "An Admired Enemy."