Remembering Rabin, ‘a soldier in the army of peace’

Remembering Rabin, ‘a soldier in the army of peace’

Thirteen years ago, on Nov. 5, a dirty little coward shot Israel’s prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, in the back. Rabin had been singing “Shir Shalom,” “A Song of Peace,” and the blood-stained songsheet was found on his body.

We were so busy yesterday, as we went to press having to assimilate in record time the astonishing results of the presidential election, that we didn’t get to note the yahrzeit in the paper – but that’s what blogs are for, I guess: to note what is personally meaningful, and often painful.

I felt Rabin’s death as a personal blow, as did many people across the globe, including then President Bill Clinton (who famously said, at Rabin’s funeral, “Shalom, Chaver”). We mourned him as if we knew him. His devotion to Israel led him to a realistic appraisal of the costs of a permanent intifada. He died, as Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg wrote in our memorial issue, for peace.

For years I had his photograph pinned to my wall, along with his military number. I would write editorials for his yahrzeit and note that he called himself “serial number 30743, Major General Yitzhak Rabin, a soldier in the army of peace.”

This sense that we have lost a treasure – a treasure of a human being and a rare opportunity for a real peace – has stayed with me over the years, and I was furious to read an Associated Press report that two Israeli television channels had planned to broadcast a full-length interview with Rabin’s assassin, may his name be blotted out like Haman’s. In that interview, which is thankfully not being broadcast because of a public outcry, the assassin, according to the AP report in the Nov. 1 New York Times, “said he realized that killing Mr. Rabin would be relatively simple when he attended the wedding of a friend…. [The assassin] was armed with a pistol, and Mr. Rabin was also there, protected by only one bodyguard.

“‘I saw that it was that simple. If I could shake his hand, I could easily have shot him,’ [the assassin] said.”

That simple. That evil. And not an inkling of remorse.

It is disgusting that this murderer has been allowed to have conjugal visits with his wife, and that they have had a son, when he has shattered the Rabin family and deprived the people of Israel of a man who might have led them out of the desert.