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It seems to me that the more we are distanced from the murder of Yitzhak Rabin, the more we have become distanced from Rabin and his legacy.
I had the privilege of working closely with Rabin. During his prime ministership, I was Shimon Peres's adviser, director-general of the Foreign Ministry and the chief Israeli negotiator of the Oslo Accords. Within this work framework, I was able to learn about the man on the deepest level.
Who was Rabin?
Rabin was a leader like no other.
Over the nearly six decades since our State of Israel was established, leaders and governments have postulated peace with our neighbors, have won elections based on security and have instigated peace processes with our Arab foes. Claims, desires, necessities; only Rabin, together with his closest partner Peres, knew how to make peace.
And not just peace as a time between wars, but a peace that establishes an infrastructure of common interests between Israelis and Arabs.
Rabin engaged with Palestinian representatives in Oslo. He did not establish unrealistic preconditions to peace, but endeavored to ensure that dialogue would alter both Israeli and Palestinian negotiating positions - that a pathway or road map (to use the modern term and simultaneously highlight Rabin's foresight) of strategic moves and compromises would ultimately reach a point of convergence for Israeli and Palestinian common interests.
"One makes peace with one's enemy," ran the statement relentlessly stressed by the Rabin-Peres alliance. Facing an "enemy" suggests a state of affairs requiring relief, and "peace" is indeed the relief required. The statement reveals foresight, pragmatism and courage, inherent characteristics of the Rabin-Peres peace alliance.
As that peace and security strategy made so crystal clear, Rabin anticipated the potential danger emanating from the Middle Eastern periphery - from fundamentalists, from fundamentalist terrorists, and from an Iran that, then like today, constantly sought and sourced nonconventional weapons and their ingredients.
With this gray cloud hovering above his head, Rabin believed in avoiding the storm by building coalitions for peace and cooperation. Rabin understood the magnitude of this East-West clash and, against a backdrop of incessant warfare with our neighbors, sought to create coalitions and agreements, bilateral and multilateral, with the Palestinians, Jordanians, Egyptians and even the Lebanese.
Rabin was a man of foresight: I heard him say more than once that his and Peres's generation had to go the extra mile and make difficult decisions for the generations to come. His was a generation that not only believed in personal sacrifice but did sacrifice, a generation that built our beloved country through desperate times of war and poverty, despite horrendous immigration conditions and in the face of anti-Semitism, death and loss.
Rabin was both courageous and pragmatic: Throughout his tenure as prime minister, he was forced into making decisions that were highly unpopular. The PLO's transition from terrorist organization to a national government was a slow and painful process. Rabin displayed great leadership by remaining true to his principles, to the peace process and to the electorate that put him in office; he was not swayed by public opinion.
Rabin was a true advocate for democracy: He internalized and intensely debated the opposition to Oslo. With the silent and passive majority supporting the Oslo track, the active and boisterous Right enjoyed the spotlight during this period. Even so, Rabin never attempted to gag the Right or to create an artificial consensus to appease it.
And who am I?
I am nostalgic for the hope that Rabin embodied.
The legacy of Yitzhak Rabin should penetrate the new generation of Israelis and Palestinians, while establishing a model for leadership. The legacy of Yitzhak Rabin represents foresight, courage, pragmatism and true democracy. This legacy must radiate within today's government. We should now re-engage the Rabin road map with both the Palestinians and the Syrians.
Sunday marks the 11th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin,
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