Published March 12, 2010
Why Has the Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin survived?
by: Nathan Weissler
  Issue: 11.03
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George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, among many others, are important figures in American and world history. Without them the United States would not be what it is today. Thus, in the absence of the United States, contemporary global politics would be radically different. Similarly, there are many world leaders who are not only renowned in their respective countries, but around the world. In France, Marquis de Lafayette and Charles De Gaulle fit the criteria. The same applies to Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in India.

Yitzhak Rabin, the late Prime Minister of Israel, also fits the above criteria.
Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated in 1995 for his pursuit of peace with the Palestinians. Prior to that, Rabin served in a variety of military and diplomatic posts. His positions included: Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF), Israeli Ambassador to the United States, a member of the Knesset, Defence Minister, and ultimately, Prime Minister.

So, why has the legacy of Yitzhak Rabin survived?

With the original 1948 founders of the modern state of Israel slipping away-- people naturally cling to the most recent remnants of the past. His active involvment in politics, and his patriotism, helped create a legacy and memory, which are an important part of Jewish and Israeli history.

Not only was Rabin a true patriot-- he also went a step further than his contemporaries. After a long and distinguished military career, during which he was known as “Mr. Security,” Prime Minister Rabin, during the final years of his life, engaged in substantial peace negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and, in 1993, formally recognized the group. The Prime Minister’s dedication, as well as that of Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, resulted in the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians. For this, Rabin shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Foreign Minister Peres and PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat.

Character and growth is the essence of Rabin’s enduring legacy. Political leaders, like Rabin, who start out with beliefs molded and reinforced by their upbringing, but then change to embrace a greater good and also become increasingly open minded, are to be greatly admired.

Sadly, as we all know, Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated. The fact that he was literally assassinated in the pursuit of peace in the Middle East while leaving a Tel Aviv peace rally has certainly greatly contributed to the endurance of the Prime Minister's legacy.

Ironically, the motto of Rabin's last peace rally was: "Yes to peace, no to violence." In King Hussein of Jordan's eulogy, as recorded by , the Prime Minister’s widow, Leah Rabin, in her memoir Rabin: Our Life, His Legacy, he honored him by saying: "You lived as a soldier. You died as a soldier of peace….”

Leah Rabin's memoir offers a touching reason as to the endurance of her husband’s legacy: “For so many of the children of our nation, Yitzhak was like their own grandfather. To adults, their father. To the seniors, their friend or brother.”

Rabin’s granddaughter, Noa Ben-Artzi Pelossof, summarized the devastating impact of her grandfather’s assassination in her eulogy, “One always wakes up from a nightmare. But since yesterday, I have only awakened to a nightmare--the nightmare of life without you, and this I cannot bear.”

While Rabin’s assassination was a major loss for peace, and the Jewish people, we must carry on, not only because that is the right thing to do, but because it is precisely what he would have wanted.


For more information, see a memorable address delivered by Prime Minister Rabin before a joint session of the U.S. Congress less than a year before his assassination on July 26, 1994. Click Here:

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