20 Years on: Reflecting on Yitzchak Rabin
Today marks the 20th secular calendar anniversary of the assassination of the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin (1922 – 1995). As well as serving as Prime Minister for two terms, first from 1974 – 1977 and then from 1992 until his murder in 1995, he also held other ministerial positions, had been in the Palmach, (the elite unit of the Haganah, a forerunner of the Israeli army) and eventually became Chief of Staff of the IDF. He also served as Ambassador to the US and was a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. There is much to be learnt, studied and debated about the life work and achievements of Yitzchak Rabin and his legacy to the State of Israel. The tragic assassination of Yitzchak Rabin was sadly not an isolated event but came about against a backdrop, and perhaps a culmination, of divisions, hatred and growing resentment between large sections of Israeli society. Tragically also, the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin was not unique in this regard. Many of the biggest disasters and troubles which have befallen the Jewish People from ancient times through to the present day from slavery in Egypt, through to the Roman invasion of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem right through to raw contemporary and recent tragedies have been brought about not just by external influences but often caused by or if not at least exacerbated by the same kind of inter-Jewish resentment and ‘Sinat Chinam’ – ‘Baseless Hatred’ that occurred in Israel 20 years ago. A question I think we as Jewish people must ask ourselves 20 years on, is whether the divisive words and actions, and resentment which occurred in the months leading up to and following the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin, is still prevalent or present in our lives today? It is easy now for us, just as it was easy 20 years ago to point the finger at others and accuse others of being guilty of causing divisions in the Jewish community, but as an old saying goes ‘Remember, whenever you point your finger at someone, there are three fingers pointing back at you’. I think for both us as a Jewish community in the UK, and for the State of Israel to move on from the dark event of the murder of Yitzchak Rabin is to do our best to ensure that such an event could never be repeated. To debate, challenge and argue with others over important issues about Israel and the Jewish community but to ensure that the argument is on the topic and the issues and doesn’t descend into the hatred which causes greater hatred, tragedies and disaster. The anniversary of Yitzchak Rabin’s murder provides an important time for all of us in the community to reflect and to educate and to think about the manner in which we conduct vibrant debates. We at the UJIA Informal Education Department will be starting in the coming weeks through our new blog to encourage further education, debate and discussion on varied topics relating to Israel and in the spirit of this, to ensure that topics and issues are debated in a manner which doesn’t cause unnecessary greater division. Any comments or questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. The views of articles on this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of the UJIA.