Yitzhak Rabin: The Last, Best Hope for Peace

Topics: Israel, Oslo Accords, Yasser Arafat Pages: 10 (2047 words) Published: December 8, 2014


Yitzhak Rabin: The Last, Best Hope for Peace?

Brian Hudson
Southern New Hampshire University - HIS 373
April 27, 2014
כ״ו בְּנִיסָן תשע״ד

Yitzhak Rabin: The Last, Best Hope for Peace?
It was a hot, summer night; throngs of angry protestors swarmed around the gates of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, chanting slogans denouncing the government, which changed to chants of “Medinat Mistarah” – or, “Police State” in English -- any time the police attempted to quash the protest and expel the masses from the grounds. The air was charged with utter disbelief; protestors felt the sting of their government’s shocking betrayal. The cause? Announcement of the Oslo Accords, or “The Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements” (DOP), as it is formally known. This agreement, between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)1 -- headed by arch-enemy Yasser Arafat, a man long considered a terrorist and responsible for unspeakable horrors against Israeli civilians -- represented official recognition by Israel of the PLO, now known as the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Fatah party. Jerusalemites sang the famous “Yerushaliyim Shel Zahav” (Jerusalem of Gold – the victory song of Jerusalem’s reunification, written by Naomi Shemer and made famous by singer Ofra Haza2) while lamenting the eventuality of its lyric’s relevance fading into history. Yet the unbelievable occurred: the Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated, instantly derailing the momentum towards peace. Subsequent prime ministers have attempted to finish Rabin’s work, and all have failed. With each passing day, the dream of peace slips further away; the death of Rabin constituted the death of Oslo. To understand the vision of the Oslo Accords, signed in 1993, one must first understand the man whose love of his nation brought him to realize the importance of painful sacrifice to achieve a lasting peace, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (ז"ל).3 A highly decorated and respected war hero, Rabin was uniquely positioned to make a stand for peace, and sell his vision to the Israeli public. He began his military career in the year 1940, as a member of the Palmach, an elite unit of the Haganah – a paramilitary group of Jewish residents of the British Mandate of Palestine – and commanded the Harel Brigade on the Jerusalem front during the War of Independence.4 Later in his military life, Rabin served as Chief of Staff for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the Six Day War of 1967, thus designating him as the man ultimately responsible for the liberation and reunification of the holy city of Jerusalem. Rabin’s determination to actualize the city of Jerusalem’s name –ירושלים , a construct of the Hebrew עיר שלום, or Ir Shalom (meaning “city” and “peace”) – and create a true City of Peace, was met with fierce opposition to the mere suggestion of a diminished Israeli sovereignty over the city by a large sector of the Israeli public. Anti-Zionist Haredi groups, in and of itself an oxymoron, vowed to derail the talks, and their fulfilment of that vow came to pass on a fateful night in Tel Aviv: a single assassin, Yigal Amir, fired three shots, two hitting the Prime Minister as he concluded a rally for peace, killing him, on November 4th, 1995.5 It was absolutely unthinkable; a Jew killing the Israeli Prime Minister. I remember waking up at a friend’s house, a mere few blocks from the square where Rabin was shot. As it was my day to be inducted into the IDF, I called my mother in Jerusalem, only to hear her crying so hard I couldn’t understand what she was saying. It sounded like she was babbling about Rabin being dead. I dismissed her, as she wasn’t fluent in Hebrew, and started reassuring her that I would be safe and was proud to begin my service. “No,” she said, “you don’t understand. Rabin is dead.” Those words hit like a dagger; in peace-loving Tel Aviv...
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