22 years ago today, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was shot and killed by a right-wing extremist following a rally for peace in Tel Aviv, Israel.
The life of Yitzhak Rabin – a military leader, statesman, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and the fifth Prime Minister of Israel – is intertwined with the history of Israel.
Born in Jerusalem in 1922, Yitzhak Rabin spent his youth in Tel Aviv. Rabin was only 16 years old when he joined the Haganah and at 19 he was one of the first to enlist with the Palmach. During the War of Independence, Rabin led the brigade which opened the road to besieged Jerusalem. Twenty years later, as IDF Chief of General Staff, he led the entire Israeli army to its legendary victory in the Six Day War and the reunification of Jerusalem. Rabin went on to serve as Ambassador to the United States, Minister of Defense, and Prime Minister for two terms.
Rabin’s second term as Prime Minister was marked by two historic events: the Israel-Jordan peace treaty and the signing of the Oslo Accords with the PLO – for which he won the Nobel Peace Prize.
A few months after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Rabin was assassinated by an individual who was opposed to the Oslo Accords.
“We’ll fight terror like there’s no peace, and make peace like there’s no terror,” Prime Minister Rabin said.
Today I chose to bring you the last speech Yitzhak Rabin (z”l) gave at a peace conference in Tel Aviv that I did my best to translate from hebrew.
“Let me tell you, I am excited as well. I want to thank each and every one of you, standing here against violence and for peace. This government, which I have the privilege to lead, along with my friend Shimon Peres, has decided to give peace a chance, peace that would solve most of the problems of the state of Israel. 27 years I have been a military man. Fighting as long as there wasn’t a chance for peace. I believe that there is an opportunity for peace, a great opportunity and we must take it for those standing here, for those who are not standing here, and they are many. I have always believed that most of the people want peace, are ready to take a risk for peace. And you here, standing in this rally, prove along with many others, who are not here, that the people wants peace and opposes violence. Violence is the erosion of the foundations of Israeli democracy. It must be condemned, must be denounce, must be isolated. This is not the way of the state of Israel. There is democracy, there can be disputes, but decision will be made by democratic elections, the way it was in 1992, and we received the mandate to continue what we do. I want to say, I am proud that representatives from the countries we have peace with have and will come here: Egypt, Jordan and Morocco that opened up the way for peace. I want to thank the president of Egypt, the king of Jordan and the king of Morocco, that stand here and present their partnership with us on our way to peace, but above all – the people of Israel in the past three years of this government proved, that peace is attainable; that peace opened the way to economy and an advanced society; that peace is not only in prayer. It is first of all in prayer, but it is the aspiration of the Jewish people. A real ambition for peace. There are enemies for peace, that try to hurt the cause and undermine the peace. I want to say, without a shadow of a doubt: we have found partners in peace with the Palestinians – the Palestinian Liberation organization that was an enemy and stopped the terror. Without partners in peace there is no peace. We will demand they will fill their part of the peace, just as we fulfill ours, to solve the longest, complicated and emotionally charged factor of the Israeli-Arab conflict: Palestinian – Israel. The entails hardships and pain. There is no path for Israel without pain. But the path of peace is better than the path of war. This coming from the person who was a military man and the minister of defense, and sees the pain of the families of the IDF soldiers. For them, for our sons and grandsons, in my case, I want this government will go to every length, every opportunity, to strive and make peace. There will also be a chance for peace with Syria. This rally must show the Israeli public, the Jewish people around the world, to many in the Arab world and in the outside world, that the people of Israel wants peace and supports peace – and for that thank you very much”.
The rally concluded with A Song of Peace led by Rabin on stage.
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Until next time…