Itzhak Rabin: A Conflicted Legacy


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Sixteen years have passed since the shocking assassination of Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin in November 1995.  In Israel, the trauma of the assassination has not completely receded from the public’s mind in large measure because of the media’s sharp focus on the tragedy.  Rabin’s legacy has led to a tug of war between the political left and right, and the issue is how Rabin would have reacted to the subsequent actions of the Palestinians, had he lived.

Rabin’s death occurred two years after the Oslo Accords were signed on the White House lawn in September 1993.  A spate of suicide bombings by Palestinians in 1994-1995 in Israeli cities (Beit Lid massacre, January 22, 1995, 21 Israelis killed; Kfar Darom bus attack, April 9, 1995, 8 Israelis killed; Ramat Gan bus #20 bombing, July 24, 1995, 6 Israelis killed; Ramat Eshkol bus bombing in Jerusalem, August 21, 1995, 4 Israelis killed) made the accords most unpopular.  Moreover, the Palestinian commitment to amend their inherently intolerant and deeply anti-Jewish covenant was ignored.

Had Rabin survived the assassination, he would have abrogated the accords for a very obvious reason – the Palestinian side simply did not adhere to its commitments and responsibilities.

In his last public speech to the Knesset, on October 5, 1995, just weeks before he was murdered, Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin had this to say:

We are aware of the fact that the Palestinian Authority has not – up until now – honored its commitment to change the Palestinian Covenant, and that all of the promises on this matter have not been kept. I would like to bring it to the attention of the members of the house that I view these changes as a supreme test of the Palestinian Authority’s willingness and ability, and the changes required will be an important and serious touchstone vis-a-vis the continued implementation of the agreement as a whole.

Unlike his rival to the Labor party leadership, Shimon Peres, Rabin the soldier and “Mr. Security” did not trust Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (P.L.O.). He was reluctant to endorse the secretive Oslo negotiations but was put under tremendous pressure by Shimon Peres, his Foreign Minister, who “cautioned” him not to miss an historic opportunity for peace with the Palestinians.  Peres himself was assured by his deputy Yossi Beilin of the negotiation’s “successful” outcome.

In an interview this reporter conducted with Itzhak Rabin in late1 991, Rabin assured me that he “will not negotiate with the P.L.O.” and that even in the context of peace he “will not give up the Golan to the Syrians.”  In a conversation this past weekend with Ambassador Yehuda Avner who served as an advisor to Prime Minister Rabin, Avner revealed that Rabin had indeed prepared a document, which he saw, that stipulated that the Golan will remain in Israeli hands.

When it came to security, Rabin was a confirmed “hawk” albeit, in his second term as Prime Minister he committed to becoming a peace-maker. His most dramatic speech, delivered on the White House lawn at the signing of the Oslo Accords on September 13, 1993, Rabin declared, “We the soldiers who have returned from the battle stained with blood, we who have fought against you, the Palestinians, we say to you today in a loud and clear voice: ‘Enough of blood and tears! Enough!”

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  • artcohn

    Rabin was assasinated at a rally promoting the 'success' of the Oslo accords. According to observers Rabin seemed to be in agreement with the attitude of Shimon Peres, author of the New Middle East.
    Rabin was, unfortunately put under pressure by Peres, Beilin and other misled labor party leaders such as Yael Tamir, who to this day still believe that the Oslo accords were good for Israel.

    • ziontruth

      Yigal Amir, Rabin's assassin, is Israel's counterpart to Breivik, the Oslo shooter, and to the murderer of the abortionist "Dr." Tiller. All three cases are of those who did nothing but harm to a good cause with their criminal acts.

  • LindaRivera

    Many people believe that Rabin was assassinated because he was going to stop Oslo and that the true murderer(s) are free. See below:

    Dalia Rabin: My father might have stopped Oslo

    "Many people who were close to father told me that on the eve of the murder
    he considered stopping the Oslo process because of the terror that was
    running rampant in the streets and that Arafat wasn't delivering the goods.

    Father after all wasn't a blind man running forward without thought.

    I don't rule out the possibility that he considered also doing a reverse on
    our side.

    After all he was someone for whom the security of the state was sacrosanct.

    So they say that Oslo brought Arafat and gave them rifles and caused the
    intifada. But historical processes develop, change and flow. It is
    impossible to take a person murdered in '95 and judge him according to what
    happened in 2000."

    Dalia Rabin, daughter of PM Yitzchak Rabin
    Interviewed in the Seven Days magazine supplement of Yediot Ahronot
    8 October 2010

    [Translation by IMRA]

    ——————————————–
    IMRA – Independent Media Review and Analysis
    Website: http://www.imra.org.il

  • LindaRivera

    Background: Rabin's Forgotten Program – No Palestinian State, No Settlement
    Freeze, Gush Katif as Model, Israeli control of borders

    [Dr. Aaron Lerner – IMRA 4 November 2011: Once again the Ministry of
    Foreign Affairs has decided not to include the late Prime Minister Yitzhak
    Rabin's last major policy address among the material it provided in a
    special page to mark the anniversary of his assassination. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/History/Modern+History/

  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    This is like asking how MLK would have reacted to black rioting after his assassination and claiming he would have renounced his message of peace.

  • Raymond in DC

    Given how Rabin knuckled under to pressure from Peres and Beilin, why should one assume
    "Mr. Security", had he lived, would have resisted pressure from Pres. Clinton to maintain the Oslo process despite the ongoing terror campaign? If he had, perhaps Clinton would have sent his own people to promote Peres as an alternative to Rabin in the Labor primaries, as he later sent his people to help defeat Netanyahu and replace him with the more dovish Barak.