As the nation commemorates the 16th anniversary of the assassination of prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin, I can vividly recollect – as though it was yesterday –
the shock and anguish that we all experienced when we first heard the
I was privileged to develop a warm rapport with Rabin
who, on my frequent visits to Jerusalem before I made aliya, nearly always found
quality time to talk to me.
I had a great liking for him. He was a
straightforward man whose frankness and impatience with small talk was
Our discussions in the later stages were largely centered on
the pros and cons of the Oslo Accords.
Like many others, I felt that
Rabin had been sandbagged by Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin and their group into
endorsing a policy that ran completely counter to his instincts and
As the process developed and he faced increasingly
fierce criticism, he became impatient, inflexible and aggressive. I recall a
particularly tense disagreement between us after he referred – in the media – to
settlers, whom in the past he had frequently referred to as the salt of the
earth, as “propellers,” meaning they had lost the plot.
But contrary to
what was frequently alleged, in all my private discussions with him he was never
euphoric about Oslo, repeatedly describing it as a “gamble” which he felt
obliged to put to the test.
“If it fails,” he said, “we will take
everything back,” although in retrospect, I doubt whether he really believed
that was possible.
To achieve the necessary Knesset majority to endorse
the Oslo Accords, Rabin cynically indulged in political corruption, bribing
unsavory opposition members to defect by offering to make them government
ministers. But notwithstanding this and contrary to many of his harshest
critics, I remain convinced that Rabin always rationalized his actions as being
in the national interest. To me, there is absolutely no question that he was a
genuine Israeli patriot.
DESPITE HIS best intentions, however, the gamble
failed. As a consequence of that disastrous initiative much Israeli blood was,
and continues to be, shed.
Ironically, the deal with the Palestinians was
launched immediately after the first Gulf War, at a time when Yasser Arafat and
the PLO had even been abandoned by the Arabs and were on the verge of total
Today, as we continue to commemorate Rabin’s memory and the
appalling crime of his assassination, we should feel outraged at the ruthless
and cynical distortions employed by the far Left and others who invoke his
memory to justify their initiatives and seek to portray him, falsely, as having
shared their delusional political views.
The truth is that Rabin did not
even bother to conceal his utter contempt for many of those who now have the
gall to invoke his name.
In fact, Rabin adamantly refused to make the
concessions to the Palestinians and the Americans that were extended by our
current “right wing” prime minister.
In his last Knesset speech on
October 5, 1995, several weeks prior to his assassination, Rabin was adamant
that “we will not return to the June 1967 lines.”
relation to the settlements, he said: “We committed ourselves before the Knesset
not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim government and
not to hinder building for natural growth.” He repeatedly vowed that he would
never agree to divide Jerusalem.
Yet the left and much of the media now
invoke Rabin as the leader who promoted “peace,” while condemning current Prime
Minister Netanyahu, who ironically was willing to compromise on these
That applies also to Rabin’s resistance to American pressure.
Unlike Netanyahu, Rabin did not indulge in diplomatic niceties; when pressured
he responded aggressively, reminding the Americans that Israel was a sovereign
state and would not be dictated to by outside parties, even its ally the United
When we commemorate our assassinated prime minister, we should
not concentrate on his failure in relation to Oslo. Instead, we should relate to
him as one of the last of the great Labor Zionist leaders, who served his
country with distinction both as a military commander and a dedicated
Had he lived, we can only speculate as to how he would have
responded to PLO terror and intransigence.
I believe that Rabin would
soon have realized the extent of the duplicity of the Palestinians and reached
the conclusion that their primary objective was to bring about our demise rather
than create their own independent state.
Once he internalized that, I
believe he would have adopted a much tougher stance against the Palestinians
than his successors.
His Yahrzeit should be commemorated in a manner
designed to promote unity and harmony rather than being misrepresented to
encourage division and rancor.
That is how most Israelis would wish to
honor the memory of Yitzhak Rabin.The writer’s new website can be viewed
at www.wordfromjerusalem.com. email@example.com