January 19, 2020

A New Look at Yitzhak Rabin's Death

“I’m not big on counterfactual historical musings. The hypothetical is tempting and tantalizing, but valueless. History happens but only just. Still, it happens. That events are not inevitable does not make them reversible.

There is one exception to my impatience with historical hypotheticals. It haunts me. That is the assassination almost a quarter-century ago of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister who, with the weary wisdom of the warrior, sought peace with the Palestinians through the Oslo Accords. The bullets fired by Yigal Amir, a fanatical religious-nationalist Jew, on Nov. 4, 1995, killed that effort. The “peace process” became a lazy phrase devoid of meaning.

In this case I find it impossible not to think, “If only.”

Rabin gritted his teeth to shake hands with Yasir Arafat, whom he cordially loathed. He spoke with a solemnity somehow accentuated by his awkwardness, in contrast to the slick sloganeering of his nemesis, Benjamin Netanyahu. Rabin looked at the sweep of history, not the latest polls. Rabin knew that there is no escaping the moral corrosion involved in subjugating another people. With Israelis and Palestinians claiming the same land, only compromise between them could bring security in the end.”

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