Eitan Haber, former advisor to Yitzhak Rabin, passes away at age 80

Eitan is best remembered for announcing to a stunned nation that Rabin had died on the operating table after he had been shot by a Jewish assassin.

Eitan Haber, former advisor to Yitzhak Rabin, passes away at age 80 (photo credit: FLASH90)
Eitan Haber, former advisor to Yitzhak Rabin, passes away at age 80
(photo credit: FLASH90)
 Eitan Haber, one of former assassinated prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s closest confidantes, died on Wednesday aged 80, following a long battle with cancer.
Haber, a well known and prolific journalist, is best remembered for dramatically announcing at the gates to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv on November 4, 1995, to a stunned nation that Rabin had died on the operating table after he had been shot by a Jewish assassin. Haber’s death comes less than a month before the 25th anniversary of Rabin’s killing.
Haber’s by-line appeared for many years in Yediot Aharonoth. He was a native son of Tel Aviv and in his early life, was politically right-leaning, although he changed his stance as the years went by.
His career as a journalist began while he was a conscript working as a reporter for the IDF magazine Bamahane, although his writing talents were honed on a children’s publication to which he contributed poems from the time he was nine years old.
During this period, he met Rabin, who was then the OC Northern Command and the two became friends.
Following his discharge from the army in 1960, Haber joined Yediot Aharonoth as a military reporter and in later years, he hosted a program on Army Radio and was an investigative television researcher and reporter.
He embedded with troops as he covered the Six Days War, the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War and on special military operations.
These roles helped Haber to maintain his connection with Rabin, who as Defense Minister in 1985, appointed him to serve as his media adviser.
In 1990, Haber returned to Yediot Aharonoth, but two years later, he was back at Rabin’s side, when the latter was serving a second term as prime minister. He was both Rabin’s media adviser and his bureau chief, and those who worked with him, he was kind, approachable and understanding.
Haber often paved the way for people who found it difficult to cut through the bureaucratic red tape into the prime minister’s office to secure a meeting with Rabin.
He was also Rabin’s chief speech writer, and was a member of the team that negotiated the Israel-Jordan peace treaty.
Haber was with Rabin during the signing of the Oslo Accords and was also present in 1994, when Rabin, together with Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres received the Nobel Peace Prize.
Rabin was assassinated in the aftermath of a major peace rally in Tel Aviv in what is now known as Rabin Square.
In his breast pocket was a sheet of paper with the blood-soaked lyrics of Song to Peace. Haber held up the sheet, with its large symbolic blood stain at Rabin’s funeral on Mount Herzl.
 In announcing Rabin’s death on the night of the assassination, Haber, his voice ringing with emotion said: “The government of Israel announces with shock, sorrow and deep grief the death of Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin who was murdered tonight by an assassin in Tel Aviv.”
That shocking announcement is still played often and sends shudders down the spines of many who heard if for the first time a quarter-century ago.
Haber won a name as a thorough and credible man of letters, said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
”The security of Israel topped his concerns and he wrote about it in clear, original and fascinating language. His many books, which enrich the shelf of military literature, are of historical value.”
Netanyahu noted that Rabin was the only Israeli leader whom Haber had counseled.
President Reuven Rivlin referred to him as “the knight of the precise written word,” adding that Haber had been a blend of initiative and talent.
Lauding Haber as both a journalist and a public servant, Rivlin stated that what had always motivated Haber was what would be beneficial for the State of Israel which he loved so dearly. Rivlin paid tribute to Haber for having written the nation’s history of war and peace.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz stated that Haber would be remembered in the collective memory of the nation as the man who was there as history was being made.  Gantz who had known Haber personally, described him as a man with a sharp mind and a sharp tongue whose whole life reflected his great love for Israel.
The Defense Ministry  on Wednesday released a considerable quantity of archive material on Haber.
Following Rabin’s death, Haber returned to journalism, wrote several books and entered the business world. He was also actively involved in several NGOs.