Even though it’s been already 19 years since that horrible night, many people can still describe in details the moment they received those news. I was 10 years old that year, and although I can’t remember many things from those days, the night of the 4th of November I will never forget. I can clearly see in my mind the shocked faces of my parents, watching the television all night long. I can also remember the day after at school, everybody around me did not really know how to process the events of the night before. Everybody can remember the awfully sad funeral, the speech of Rabin’s granddaughter- Noa, the tears and the words of former US president Bill Clinton… and the many songs that were written by the greatest Israeli artists which were playing in the radio for weeks.
In Israel, the murder of Yitzhak Rabin was much more than a murder of one man. For many Israelis, this was also the murder of the peace process, and the end of the Israeli democracy. The days before the assassination were hard and the atmosphere in the Israeli society was difficult and complex. Not everybody agreed with Rabin’s way for peace and with the “Oslo accords” which was a first and primary step towards peace agreement with the Palestinian authority led by Yasar Arafat. Arafat was also the leader of The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which for many years carried out serious terrorist activities against Israel, and therefore for many Israelis mostly from the right wing of the political map, negotiation with terrorists was not acceptable.
Back in those days, for the first time we could see how Rabin and Arafat were trying to move on, and to achieve a concrete development in the relations between Israel and the Palestinians. With an unforgettable past and tragedies behind the two societies, they were negotiating and finally signed the first parts of the Oslo accords. Later they earned the Nobel peace prize “for their efforts to create peace in the Middle East”, together with Shimon Peres, the former Israeli president.
Unfortunately not everybody appreciated these efforts to achieve peace, and the political differences between the right and the left wings, became much more than only “differences”. New radical voices could be heard in the Israeli streets, where radical right wing activists were demonstrating against Oslo accords and carried signs with Rabin Pictures in SS uniforms. A lot of discussions have been made about those days, and many great scholars and professional political analysts analyzed the days previous to the murder, and the radical atmosphere in the Israeli street that eventually pushed the abominable murderer to shoot Rabin just a few minutes after one of the biggest peace assembly Israel ever knew.
Among the people of the left wing, many believe that Rabin’s legacy never really died and they still believe in his way. After the murder things didn’t quite go like Rabin would have hoped for, and unfortunately, today 19 years later, it is hard to see peace in the horizon of this ongoing conflict and bloodshed. Sadly, we can see that with time, the new generation and the Israeli youth know less and less about Rabin, and some of them don’t even know who murdered him. As for myself, I grew up on Rabin’s legacy, and I can tell you that it is not just a myth.
As time goes on this legacy is disappearing. For many of us born before, Rabin’s legacy and work are known and clear. However, for those born after that night, Rabin’s image sells at best, only from history books. A survey that was done last week found that only about half of the Israeli youth know what happened the night of the 4.11.95. 47% say they knew the date and place of the assassination of the Israeli prime minister, but the other 47% did not know.
The assassination of Yitzhak Rabin proves how much danger there is in blind hate! In politics there will always be different voices, opinions and a lot of disagreements. It is OK to agree to disagree, not everyone must support Rabin’s way for peace. Yet between disagreement and a violent murder there is a long and thick line, a line that should not ever and never be crossed again!