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
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
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
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: