Fulfilling Rabin’s Vision

A Special Edition of Middle East Progress

Original commentaries by President Clinton and Nabil Khatib, adapted commentary from Noa Rotman, and a speech from Yuval Rabin.

Middle East Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress, helps develop and highlight practical approaches and voices to managing—and resolving—the Arab-Israeli conflict with a primary focus on achieving a sustainable, secure, democratic Palestinian state alongside sustainable, secure, and democratic Israel.

Remembering Yitzhak

By President William Jefferson Clinton

Throughout history, human beings have found meaning in our lives through positive identification with what we know: our family, our tribe, our community, our nation, our culture, our politics, our religion – and by negative reference to “others.”

In the 21st century, as our world grows increasingly interdependent, and local challenges and opportunities relate increasingly to the groups we once knew as “them,” the walls that divide us are getting thinner, less important, and ever more transparent. We are compelled to expand the definition of who is “us” and shrink the definition of who is “them” – to understand that, as important as our differences are, our common humanity matters more. The inability to embrace this fundamental value lies at the heart of peace and conflict throughout the world today, and of course in the Middle East.

Yitzhak Rabin understood this. My friend knew that the Middle East is highly interdependent, that there could be no final military victory: it would come only through peace and reconciliation based on our shared humanity. He worked tirelessly to forge a just, secure, and lasting peace with the Palestinians, and his ultimate sacrifice proved it.

Read the full article here.

The Rabin Vision: Maybe This is the Way Out

By Nabil Al-Khatib, Executive Editor of Al Arabiya

Twelve years have passed since the bullets fired by Yigal Amir managed to assassinate the Prime Minister of Israel, Yitzchak Rabin. A new reality has set in and we realize today that Amir’s bullets succeeded in killing, not only Rabin, but his vision as well.

People close to the late leader of Israel, and those Palestinians who used to sit on the opposite side of the table negotiating with him, always talked about his determination to end the conflict based on the “two-state solution.”

However, since then, Amir’s voice has remained the loudest, just like the loudness of his fatal bullets while the voices demanding peace have remained low.

Supporters of peace continue whispering in each other’s ears in workshops, using theoretical methods to try to reach a possible solution – on paper – for a far too complicated situation.

The paradox is that all current and former politicians share a common consensus that they keep repeating behind closed door: “The solution is known … the question is how to implement it?”

Read the full article here.

The 12th Year

By Noa Rotman, granddaughter of Yitzhak Rabin, published in Yedioth Ahronoth, adapted for Middle East Bulletin

My memory is worn, scarred, stimulated and pained. Once a year, I sit shiva in the national mourners’ hut, wearing a three-piece suit, hair styled, everything in place, crying reservedly. Once a year, they bring out my grandparents’ freckled wonder girl to say something touching, something authentic and real, while all made up for the cameras, hoping that she won’t forget to top it off with an interesting anecdote from her last encounter with him. The wonder girl, who turned 30 this year, who has the first hint of wrinkles around her eyes, isn’t sure how to sort between realities and revised memories, among the images in her head.
My memory is worn, but the jailed murderer, it seems, is not. He has enjoyed conjugal visits with his fiance. His fiance, who was introduced to him by right-wing activists since he was sent to prison and who divorced her husband to carry on a horrifying lineage, has been waiting to clutch her son. What sickening timing, for this child, , the result of a repugnant merger between pure satisfied evil, brought into the covenant as our dark reality is teetering on the edge of hell.

Our bodies hang on the edge of this abyss. It is a long, long row; this is the twelfth journey to this infinity; our fates on the silver platter of Israeli talkback culture, asking and being asked once again, to remember, with great pathos, and never to forget. Actually no, devoid of pathos, but rather with Rabinesque sincerity, feeling a pain that never abates, slightly ashamed, left with a suppressed anger presented with a civic smile. As everyone expects.

Read the full adaptation here.

The Legacy of My Father

Speech by Yuval Rabin

Good evening everyone,

Operation ‘Early Sunrise’ was the code name for the large security operation that was aimed at maintaining things peacefully at the peace rally that took place in this square on November 4, 1995. ‘Let the sun rise, the morning shine,’ sang the leaders on stage and the masses sang along. However, that hopeful evening ended with a great eclipse that has not left us since.

This evening, while we gather here in this square, a different ceremony is being conducted only a few kilometers from here. This ceremony originates in the tradition of studying Torah on the night preceding a circumcision ceremony. The purpose of the studying is to protect the newborn and not to leave him defenseless. This ceremony is known as ‘Brit Yitzhak’, the covenant of Isaac.

The other Yitzhak, my father and the Prime Minister of us all, the man in whose memory we are standing here now, was not protected by anyone. His blood was forfeited and his back offered up, to the right and the left of the murderer’s bullets, the father of the soon-to-be circumcised.

Twelve years have passed by, yet it seems to me more and more that nothing has changed and that the lesson is farther away than ever. Today, like back then, a cynical, well-timed, sophisticated campaign is running wild attempting to wash away the crime and turn blood again into fair game. Today, as then, the voices of the inciters remain unanswered, with on one side angry violence and on the other, the weakness of silence.

Today, just like back then.

Read the full speech here.

Middle East Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress, helps develop and highlight practical approaches and voices to managing—and resolving—the Arab-Israeli conflict with a primary focus on achieving a sustainable, secure, democratic Palestinian state alongside sustainable, secure, and democratic Israel.

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