Rabin - 14 Years later
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Zionism & Israel Center http://zionism-israel.comToday Israel marks the 14th anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the quintessential Zionist. Rabin was a tireless servant of his people as a soldier and diplomat. He was one of the greatest Jewish military leaders in our 3,000 year history, defender and liberator of Jerusalem, as well as an international hero of peace. He was, regrettably, one of the last of a generation of leaders who displayed unbending rectitude and personal integrity. He resigned his post as Prime Minister over a $3,000 bank account and lived modestly.
To those of us who were part of Israel or the Zionist community from the time of the Six Day War, Rabin was a father of our country. Nobody who heard it can forget Rabin's honorary doctorate acceptance speech in the newly liberated amphitheater of the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus following the Six Day War. Nobody who lived through those times can forget his courage in the dark hours preceding the Entebbe rescue, or his integrity in assuming responsibility for the failure to rescue Nachshon Waxman. In his public and personal life and example, Yitzhak Rabin personified in every way the new proud Jew that Zionism strove to create.
But even if Yitzhak Rabin had been just an ordinary politician and an ordinary leader, it is a Zionist duty to honor his memory and mark the anniversary of his assassination. The main issue in the assassination of Rabin was the act itself. It not about this or that issue, not about settlements, or territories or peace. It was an act beyond all those petty considerations, an act that must never be repeated.
Rabin was murdered by a moral degenerate, Yigal Amir, who did not understand the meaning of Zionism or democracy. The murder of Rabin had the potential, and still has the potential, to kill not just a man, but to kill Zionism, to rend asunder the precious fabric of national unity that was forged in the hell of Europe and the trials of the British Mandate. That unity was perhaps the main achievement of the Zionist movement, without which no other achievements would be possible, a wondrous achievement noted by Theodor Herzl in Herzl's opening speech to the first Zionist Congress.
Rabin showed Zionism and Israel to the world as we want to see ourselves, a nation worthy of respect and admiration. Yigal Amir showed what we can become if we take the wrong path.
History cannot guarantee success. A democratic nation or group, functioning as a united entity, may make fatal errors, or it may be the victim of circumstances beyond its control. However, history can guarantee failure. A nation of Yigal Amirs who take the law into their own hands, who change leaders by gunfire as it is done in certain other countries, who decide which laws and which army orders will be obeyed and which will be flouted, is no longer a nation, and no longer has any chance of achieving anything.
It is up to us to decide, if we want to continue, not in the "path of Rabin" necessarily, but in the path of Zionism, the path of unity that was inaugurated by Theodor Herzl or if we want to follow the path of Yigal Amir, and return to the quarrelsome and ineffectual public life that characterized ghetto Judaism, the path that leads to perdition. There is room within Zionism for all political opinions, but those who refuse to unite in honoring our fallen national hero are not expressing a political opinion within Zionism. Rather, they are casting themselves outside the Zionist endeavor entirely. If we allow it, they will destroy us.
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