In a moving column in The New York Times, President Bill Clinton pays tribute to slain Israeli Prime Minister and peacemaker Yitzhak Rabin. “I continue to believe that, had he lived, within three years we would have had a comprehensive agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians,” Clinton writes.
Let us take a moment today, the 15th anniversary of Rabin’s assassination by a Jewish extremist, to consider the leadership and vision Rabin exemplified. It is no trite matter; looking past years of anger, hatred and enmity while preparing to make considerable sacrifices to strive for a better future requires rare levels of conviction and humanity. Many forget the vehemence with which such moves were opposed, that the Israeli right juxtaposed Rabin’s face with a a Nazi uniform, that there were myriad uncertainties posed by dealing with Yasir Arafat. Rabin famously reminded us that peace can only be made with one’s enemies, and that the pain of sacrificing for peace is preferable to the agony of war. Fittingly, the lyrics of A Song for Peace, the last song Rabin sang before being shot, urge: “Don’t say that day will come. Bring that day, for it’s not a dream.”
Clinton recalls Rabin’s words upon signing the Declaration of Principles with the Palestinians:
Enough of blood and tears. Enough. We have no desire for revenge. We harbor no hatred toward you. We, like you, are people — people who want to build a home, to plant a tree, to love, to live side by side with you in dignity, in empathy, as human beings, as free men. We are today giving peace a chance, and saying again to you, enough. Let us pray that a day will come when we all will say, ‘Farewell to the arms.’