Posted by: Liza Rosenberg | November 10, 2008

Remembering when peace seemed possible

It was a Saturday, the last day of my parents’ visit. We spent the day wandering around the Safari in Ramat Gan. I can remember that I wasn’t feeling well, but the day was otherwise uneventful. Later that night, we drove my parents to the airport, and as we handed our ticket and fistful of coins to the parking lot attendant, he shared with us the news that he’d just heard on the radio. The date was November 4th, 1995, and Prime Minister Rabin had just been shot.

Thirteen years later, and I am still moved by the words of his last speech, made shortly before his murder at a rally for peace in what was then called Malachey Yisrael Square, and what is now known as Rabin Square. Thirteen years later, and we remember all that we lost that night – a prime minister… a vision for peace…

“Permit me to say that I am deeply moved. I wish to thank each and every one of you, who have come here today to take a stand against violence and for peace. This government, which I am privileged to head, together with my friend Shimon Peres, decided to give peace a chance — a peace that will solve most of Israel’s problems.

I was a military man for 27 years. I fought so long as there was no chance for peace. I believe that there is now a chance for peace, a great chance. We must take advantage of it for the sake of those standing here, and for those who are not here — and they are many.

I have always believed that the majority of the people want peace and are ready to take risks for peace. In coming here today, you demonstrate, together with many others who did not come, that the people truly desire peace and oppose violence. Violence erodes the basis of Israeli democracy. It must be condemned and isolated. This is not the way of the State of Israel. In a democracy there can be differences, but the final decision will be taken in democratic elections, as the 1992 elections which gave us the mandate to do what we are doing, and to continue on this course.

I want to say that I am proud of the fact that representatives of the countries with whom we are living in peace are present with us here, and will continue to be here: Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco, which opened the road to peace for us. I want to thank the President of Egypt, the King of Jordan, and the King of Morocco, represented here today, for their partnership with us in our march toward peace.

But, more than anything, in the more than three years of this Government’s existence, the Israeli people have proved that it is possible to make peace, that peace opens the door to a better economy and society; that peace is not just a prayer. Peace is first of all in our prayers, but it is also the aspiration of the Jewish people, a genuine aspiration for peace.

There are enemies of peace who are trying to hurt us, in order to torpedo the peace process. I want to say bluntly, that we have found a partner for peace among the Palestinians as well: the PLO, which was an enemy, and has ceased to engage in terrorism. Without partners for peace, there can be no peace. We will demand that they do their part for peace, just as we will do our part for peace, in order to solve the most complicated, prolonged, and emotionally charged aspect of the Israeli-Arab conflict: the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

This is a course which is fraught with difficulties and pain. For Israel, there is no path that is without pain. But the path of peace is preferable to the path of war. I say this to you as one who was a military man, someone who is today Minister of Defense and sees the pain of the families of the IDF soldiers. For them, for our children, in my case for our grandchildren, I want this government to exhaust every opening, every possibility, to promote and achieve a comprehensive peace. Even with Syria, is will be possible to make peace.

This rally must send a message to the Israeli people, to the Jewish people around the world, to the many people in the Arab world, and indeed to the entire world, that the Israeli people want peace, support peace. For this, I thank you.”

candle

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Responses

  1. Something broke wide open in Israeli society that day. I often wonder if we will ever be able to truly heal and regain that promise of an attainable peace that we lost.

  2. That was the year that everything in Jerusalem was blowing up. I guess peace seemed possible as long as you weren’t living in Jerusalem.

  3. I lived in Jerusalem then and peace seemed very possible. We weren’t in the sunshine yet, but there was the glimmer of light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Would have been even brighter if it wasn’t for the vicious hafganot the right wing was throwing almost daily to remind us that Israeli society was less than united. Walked through more than a few of those, don’t want to repeat the things I heard chanted by the children of people who should have known better.

    Welcome back babe. Sorry we didn’t get the chance to meet up. E-mail me.

  4. Rabin doesn’t even mention the victims of his political machinations in his speech, which any politician with a conscience would have done. You think the hafganot inspired by the suicide bombings were “vicious” because of some things people said.

    No wonder so many Jerusalemites felt as if no one cared if they lived or died.

  5. Eh. It was fun while it lasted.


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