• Advertise here

Blog Awards

  • Sablogpolitics

  • Sablogpolitics

  • Sablogrunnerupgroup

  • Sablogrunneruppost

  • JIB


« Where Does Mbeki Stand? | Main | Letter From Israel »

November 09, 2006



The relevant question is : "Did Rabin's murder help change the course of Israel's history?"
Whether his policies could have led to peace is, perhaps, debatable.
What cannot be debated, however,is that he was democratically elected.
His murder was the darkest day in Israel's history. I am not sure that Israel will/can ever recover.


"Did Rabin's murder help change the course of Israel's history?"

Not really because there was already growing discord with his running of the peace process as he and Peres failed to attend to the suicide bombings and automatic weapon attacks while continuing to pander to Arafat.
Funny how people forget that within months of Arafat signing the Oslo Agreement in Washington in 1993 he was unleashing the terrorist groups in 1994.
The first major one being the suicide car bomber in Afula who blew up a crowd of school kids waiting at the bus stop on their way home.
Rabin would certainly not have won another election.
By the way the 'Fence' came about initially through private iniative of the residents of the Gilboa region who suffered tremendously from the attacks in the 90s.
After trying Netanyahu and then Barak, both out after two years, Israelis chose Sharon in desperation and managed to achieve a respite from the slaughter.
Anyway it seems as if GWB has gone back to daddy's way of doing things and now with Gates as Secretary of Defense and Baker in the wings pulling the strings on foreign policy Israel may be forced back to the "course of history" plotted for them by Bush 1's security crowd in the 80s who brought back Arafat to life.


Baker? Which Baker?


James Baker. He was Secretary of State during Bush senior’s administration.

Cynic I totally agree with you. Last year for Rabin memorial day I did a facetious post about what would have happen if Rabin had lived. The truth is that not much would be different from how it is today.

Your point about the change of course in American Foreign policy is totally correct. It is extremely serious for Israel. The neo-cons have lost this ideological struggle. The Realists are back in town. And those like Baker are no friends of ours. He is much more of a threat to Israel than this week’s democratic victory.

Olmert is scheduled to have a meeting at the White House in the next few weeks. I read a report that Bush told him not to come. We must watch this closely.


Cynic, I almost totally agree with you. I dont think that if Rabin had lived things would have been very different....Perhaps he may have won the upcoming election, but even if so I doubt he would have retained power for long....It seems quite clear to me that he would have been elected to carry on the process he had begun, and that Arafat would have rejected peace as he did with Barak, and returned to his openly violent he did in 2000....

I think the only thing that might have been different is the Israeli people's attituude to Rabin and the process he began. Today, people seem to look back wistfully on that time and think to themselves "if only...."...No one seems to realise that if only Rabin had not been assasinated more land would have been given away for nothing in return and we would have a well armed Palestinian state living alongside us still intent on our destructuion...Indeed, till Israelis get this, I dont see any way we can move forward...

And, yes, Rabin's assassination was a dark day for was a dark day for the Jewish people too....perhaps one of the darkest...where one of our own killed a Prime Minister....something unheard of...indeed unimaginable...

I am just afraid that we have remained in the darkness, and will do for a long time....Indeed, as Rabbi Wein, a world renowned Rabbi with some really interesting views, said in a talk I attended tonight...there are none so blind as the Jewish people!


I think your assessment of a Rabin "had he lived" scenario could be used to legitimise his murder. I realize that this is not your intention but it is the danger inherent in your analysis.
The problem with your belief, that there can be no peace with a
Palestinian state living alongside Israel, is that there is no way forward.
Israel's strength up until Rabin's death is that its citizens had some consensus with regard to the democratic process which governed them. His murder ended this. That is the true tragedy.
Nations can survive wars. But whether they can survive the murder of their democratically elected leaders is more debatable.



I have to totally disagree with you...
I dont believe that what I wrote legitimises Rabin's murder in any way. Indeed, quite the opposite.

I think that what I wrote was a tribute to a leader the likes of whom appears to no longer exist on the Israeli political scene...someone who was brave and princpiled....and was able to lead Israel in what at the time appeared a "forward direction." The very fact that his murder did not change the political stance of many Israelis is a testament to him, and an indication of how non-sensical his murder was...definitely not a legitimisation of it....

I dont know that Israel will ever fully recover from the assasination of Rabin....but I dont say that because I think that his murder destroyed the belief in a democratic system....Rather, I think it robbed Israelis of hope for a normal future, something which is even further away today than it was then....and it instilled in them the belief that had Rabin lived, all would have been settled by now, and we would be living in peaceful co-existence with our neighbours....

To be honest, and maybe cynical, I am not sure that right now there is much of a way least I dont see it under the current government....Further territorial concessions, which I believe will be the topic of Olmert's meeting tomorrow with Bush, is clearly no answer, given the results in both Gaza and Lebanaon....any sane person can see that....I am just not sure what is the answer. If you have any sggestions I would be most interested in hearing them...

I am not, on the other hand, opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state....Indeed, I too hope it will solve many of our problems....Realistically though, I dont believe that the peace we are interested in is the peace that the Palestinians or the Arab world are interested in....and I dont believe that the creation of a Palestinian state will be the end of our territorial concessions....Indeed, sometimes what seems to be a move forward is actually a step backwards and I am afraid that more territorial concession is exactly this.....


I made a clear distinction betwen your position and that of people who could used your analysis to legitimise Rabin's murder.
It is impossible to try and predict Israel's future if Rabin had lived. Would it be better or worse than Nov 2006? Rhetorical questions that get us nowhere.
Israel's ability to survive rests on one thing. The strength of its democratic process. All other matters are "extras". A bit like ordering a car and deciding whether you want the latest cd player or sun-roof.
Unfortunately, Rabin's death has meant that Israel's democracy is not as strong as it could have been. And when a nation's back is "up against the wall" it cannot afford such weakness.


Anthony, I think you way off base on this one. Just because you disagree with Rabin’s path does not mean you are legitimising his murder.

I agree with you that there are corroding forces in Israel today that pose a serious threat to its democratic nature, just as there are similar forces that pose a serious threat to its Jewish character. It is important that we expose and combat these negative elements. But I do believe that a democracy can recover from the assassination of its leader. America is proof of that.

Diane, I must pick you out as well. I disagree with your contention that ‘if only Rabin had not been assassinated more land would have been given away for nothing in return and we would have a well armed Palestinian state living alongside us still intent on our destruction’. Rabin was no fool. He was a security hawk. Even if he had won the election he would not have done anything significantly different to Bibi and Barak. In fact its interesting to note that Bibi gave away more land to the Palestinians than Barak and Rabin combined. Arafat would not have stopped the terror, he would not have given up on the right of return etc. All the obstacles that we face to peace today would still remain whether Rabin was alive or not.

Finally I would just like to reiterate that I too believe that ‘the way forward’ is 2 states Israel and Palestine living in peace and security. How we get there I do not know. But get there soon we must.



I accept what you say and indeed on reflection I agree with you to an extent.I am unsure that Rabin would have abandoned his way there were already clear indications of the terrorism and hate emanating from the Palestinians, and this did not hinder Rabin. I do think that faced with today's situation, Rabin would have put his formulation to sleep....for as you correctly say he was a military hawk...

I do though disagree in that what would maybe have been different is the way in which the formulation of land for peace is viewed. while Rabin would surely have abandoned this fruitless path, the Israeli people seem unable to do so...and had Rabin lived, and reached the conclusion that the formulation did not work perhaps the Israelis would have accepted this and started seeking a new way of reaching a two state solution....for I agree...get there we must...

Anthony, I do not think that Israel's ability to survive rests on one thing....democracy is indeed a basic tenet of Israel's existence...and something that the Jewish state should be proud of....but Israel's ability to survive is not dependant on it...In my opinion, what Israel's ability to survive is dependant on is its Jwwish character and soul....This is an all encompassing concept, which includes within it a democratic system. It is this that I see corroding...and without it, Israel becomes just another state...


Diane and Mike,
My point is that the arguments that Diane uses ( "no one seems to realize that if only Rabin had not been assasinated more land would have been given away for nothing in return..") has much in common with those who wanted him murdered.
Mike, I am not "way off base"! In my opinion, Diane should have excised her "if only Rabin had not been assasinated" segment from her blog.
The people who "do realize" (as opposed to the "no one seems to realize" group ) were the very ones who supported his murder.

(By the way,are we going to discuss whether the SAJR was right to refuse Ronno Einstein a right to reply?)



I will ask the SAJR if I can have a copy of their editorial for all to see. Either way i'll have something up tomorrow for that discussion.
I wonder if Judge Dennis Davis will write another article defending Ronnie & attacking those who criticise the likes of Ronnie & Friedman. But lets keep these comments for the next thread...


Rabin’s legacy for me goes further than Oslo. I think he introduced the idea of pragmatism in Israeli politics.
In 1975 Rabin, a lifelong Labour man, asked Sharon to be his advisor. This sent shock waves across the political sphere. Labour all saw Sharon as a foe, and all the Labour aligned generals had tried to get him out of the army. Rabin could reach across party divides.
Sharon writes in his book that he saw a lot of overlap between his and Rabin’s views and therefore decided to accept the offer.
I love the fact that possibly the two most influential leaders of the two most influential Israeli political parties managed to work so well together and to commands such deep respect from one another. And this is more Rabin’s than Sharon’s legacy.
Rabin will also always be remembered for his brilliant relationship building work as the US Ambassador is Washington where he forged the strong ties with the US that we now benefit from.
He is also largely credited with the astounding victory in the 6 day war. Although criticised for his breakdown many prominent authors claim that much of Dayan’s credit during 67 was thanks to Rabin.
Finally, Rabin also played a huge part in making peace with Egypt for it was he who negotiated the separation of forces deal in the Sinai with the Egyptians.

this cartoon just prior to the disengagement plan has always stuck in my mind.
Daniel Gordis wrote
“Ha-Aretz, Israel's leading daily, ran a cartoon on Wednesday morning, "the morning after" the vote, which showed Ariel Sharon sitting by Rabin's grave. (see cartoon) As Sharon sits, almost Rodin "Thinker"-like, Rabin says to him, from the grave, "Shalom, Haver," the words that Clinton said to Rabin at Rabin's funeral.

"Shalom, Haver," of course, can mean either "Goodbye, Friend," which was what Clinton meant, or "Hello, friend." And here, in the cartoon, that's apparently what Rabin is saying to Sharon. The cartoon lends itself to a cynical, sad read, in which Rabin foreshadows to Sharon that he, too, will soon be killed, a prospect that has some sectors of this society very worried, particularly as the vitriol of the radical right escalates. But the basic read is simpler, though no less poignant. In this read, Rabin is saying to Sharon, "Welcome, friend," to the company of those who have tried to push unpopular concessions through the Knesset. To the company of those who understand that ultimately, this country is not about real estate, but about what we do with and in the land that we keep. To the company of warriors, who, at the dusk of their careers, have come to understand that the sword (though we will always need it) will not end this conflict, and even in the terrible neighborhood in which we live, even without an "agreement," we will have to compromise. Not because our enemies deserve it, but because we want something different. For ourselves, for our children, for this State.”

For me, Sharon and Rabin have the same legacy. To describe it I will again quote from one of my favourite authors on the Middle East - Daniel Gordis.

From warrior to statesman to seeker of peace. Or if not peace, then at least a separation.


Your "jewish character and soul" comment is 100% subjective hogwash. It can mean anything/nothing. (What it means to you, for example, will not mean what it might mean to me.)
"Democracy", however is not subjective. It is based on the law of the land. One of its basic tenets is that citizens do not go around murdering the state's duly elected leaders in order that the state's political direction is changed. It is eternal and objective. Thet is why it is the only concept that can save Israel.


Dont want to be too pedantic but my name is spelt ANTHONY.
Ronnie's name, of course, is spelt Ronno.


I disagree. It is one of many things. Democracy alone cannot save Israel. We can be 100% democratic and lose the Jewish character of the state. We can pursue the single state solution, expand our borders and incroporate the WB into Israel, give the Palestinians Israeli citizenship, and then lose the state.

"Jewish character and soul" may be hard to define just as God is hard to define but it is very real and part of what Israel needs.

I think the elements we need, and all of them have near equal importance, are:

Jewish character (generated primarily be having a majority Jewish demography); democracy; moral high ground

Remove just one of those elements and everything else crumbles. Or at the very least it would be a state that I wouldn't want to ever live in.

I think you will agree that adding some elements alongside democracy does not detract from democracy's importance.

And I think democracy can be subjective.


Anthony, I don’t think you are correct. Democracy is not constant and eternal. Democracies and laws change over time and place. American democracy is very different from British democracy which is in tern different from South African democracy. Yes they have similar features but vast differences. It is interesting to note that apartheid South Africa considered itself a democracy as did the former Soviet Union. So …

I think it is a real shame if not bizarre that you dismiss the Jewish aspect of Israel’s character. What was the purpose of the entire Zionist enterprise if not to establish a Jewish state in our biblical home land. Now it is certainly debatable what constitutes a Jewish state. Is a Jewish majority enough? This is an issue we need to debate and reach consensus on. But it should not be dismissed. If the Jewish people are to survive both the Jewish and democratic aspects of the state must be strengthened.

Steve, great post. think you should put it on the front.


Steve and Mike,
Yes, there are different democratic traditions. But central to them all is that you do not murder your democratically elected leaders.

The democratic tradition that I was referring to was Israel's. It is labelled as an apartheid state by its detractors, so of course its beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.

Arguments about "the jewish character and soul" of Israel actually led to Rabin's murder. The far right believed that they were following Hashem's will in short-circuiting Israel's democratic process. So you can see how dangerous those sort of ideas are.



Firstly, I must agree with both Mike and Steve....democracy is not an eternal unchanging concept. Indeed, that is the beauty of changes with time and circumstances...Surely none of us would enjoy Roman or Greek democracy today...being rendered a non-voter I know that I would not...

Secondly, while not murdering elected officials may be central to the concept of democracy, indeed, even the antithesis thereof, so many murders of democratically elected officials come to you seriously suggest that for example America is doomed forever and her democratic process forever stinted by the murder of Lincoln? JFK? Or that Israel may as well throw in the towel on democracy as one of our leaders has been lets embrace totalitarianism....The argument is absurd! Surely you can see that?

Further, I think it is quite sad that you think that my comment is hogwash....For indeed, it was the basis of the establishment of the State of Israel....why bother with a Jewish state if democracy is enough....The fact that Israel is both democratic and Jewish is what makes it unique....Here I second Steve wholeheartedly.

And finally, quite frankly I think that the fact that you equate Judaism and the concept of a Jewish state with the fanaticism that led to Rabin's murder is even sadder!


It almost sounds like you think that we are advocating assassination of our leaders.

And we are all arguing across each other here. None of us believe in the extremist religious ideology which led Amir to assassinate Rabin.

Things are not black and white.
Arguing that talk of the Jewish character of Israel is what led to Rabin's assassination is deeply simplistic.


This is the Jewish character that I speak of.

The photo depicts a divided Israel in a moment of unity. The IDF soldiers on the right side of the fence are in the Gaza Strip to help enforce the disengagement, while the people on the left side of the fence are those who are protesting their forcible removal from their settlement in the Gaza. They have put their differences aside and united for a few brief moments to form a minyan.


Diane (+Steve and Mike)

If you haven't, may I suggest that you read a book entitled:
I think its title says it all.

The path that Israel takes should be chosen by its democratically elected leaders. How "Jewish" that state should be is up to those people to decide. It is not up to those, who wear their "souls of Judaism" on their sleeves!


I am not suggesting that "Israel throws in the towel on democracy because one of its leaders has been murdered."
I advocate the opposite.

I think that Israel is less able to deal with a loss of its leader, than say the USA, because its back is/was up against the wall. How would Britain have coped if Churchill had been murdered in 1939? Perhaps not too well.

Historians, in the years to come, will start to evaluate the impact of Rabin's death. I sincerely hope that I am wrong, but I fear that
they might see it as an extremely significant turning point in Israel's history.


For all those arguing about the need for a Jewish identity for the State of Israel, just think about some facts:
What would be the state of Jews around the world had Israel not existed as a state to give succour to all those persecuted Jews of the Middle East and the former Soviet Union; to start with?
For all the secular power in Israel it still revolves about Jewish tradition which for Israelis is daily life. Even if on Yom Kipur children ride their bicycles on the empty freeways and the ultra-orthodox stone ambulances driving in their areas.
It is the spirit that has inculcated the amazing creativity of the only 58 year old country to be a leader in technological innovation, be it medicine, computers or agriculture.
The liberty for ordinary citizens in Israel is far greater today than in supposedly democratic Britain where PC policy is stifling all discussion at the behest of a certain religion and destroying the cultural roots of the nation..


If there was a Jewish population of 1.8 million in the UK and they were causing some sort of Jewish fundamentalist/terrorist aggro, would they be sent on the first boat to Haifa?
I reckon that they would! There are limits, you see, to the Brits PC policy.


At the risk of crashing this pleasant 4-way argument - may I just say that one of the main points in Diane's article and something felt by many israeli's is the dearth of politicians with morals and spirit - or at the very least put their passion for their country and people ahead of that of their own personal power and wealth.

I used to think Israel was diferent from other democraces because we had the Ben Gurion's, Golda Meir's and Rabin's - who believed with a passion and worked for soemthing beyond their own glory.

With Sharon beyond return to the land of the living, the current knesset leaves discussions of anything resembling 'leadership', 'courage' or 'moral fibre' obselete and that, rather than what would or would not have happened re:Rabin's assasination is the true sad msg i took from the blog.


Anthony, you wrote:
".... , would they be sent on the first boat to Haifa?
I reckon that they would! "

Without Israel they would most probably be dead.

From the current situation, British Jews must now realise that they will never be accepted as human beings. As Nick Cohen has discovered to his dismay.

So that blight on the world scene, in spite of the Humanists, Ecologists, Socialists and other "ists" has decided to keep its roots, heritage and culture now a melting pot from different parts of the world - Ethiopians, Indians from Cochin and now North East India, Conversos from South America and others, to produce a vibrant and successful society where freedom means something; and not just for Jews living in that country, but also Arabs, Muslim and Christian, Bahaiis who are persecuted in Iran.

An interesting bit of history to illuminate the part of the stimulus for the State:


Please explain your ref to Nick Cohen.


Read the complete article:
As I'd had little contact with Jewish religion or culture, I'd rarely given anti-Semitism a thought. I suppose I'd assumed it had burned out in the furnaces of Auschwitz. When the subject came up, I dutifully repeated the liberal mantra that "not all anti-Zionists are anti-Semites" and forgot the corollary "but all anti-Semites are anti-Zionists".
To explain away a global phenomenon as a rational reaction to Israeli oppression, you have once again to turn the Jew into a supernatural figure whose existence is the cause of discontents throughout the earth. You have to revive anti-Semitism.



I tried to access the article but I could only get the letters slagging it off.

However, I am not sure how seriously I can take a Jewish commentator who has "rarely given anti-Semitism a thought."

One can debate the "anti-Zionism/Semitism" chestnut ad infinitum. I am not sure it gets us anywhere.

I just accept the fact that Jews will always be hated. Israel will take the brunt, closely followed by the USA. Probably, Jews in France will get a bronze medal.

It pisses me off because, I am a Brit and wont even qualify for a medal in the Jew hating olympics.


The URL works for me.

In answer to how seriously you can take a Jewish commentator etc......

"My first reaction was so ignoble I blush when I think of it. I typed out a reply that read, "but there hasn't been a Jewish member of my family for 100 years". I sounded like a German begging a Gestapo officer to see the mistake in the paperwork."

The comments to this entry are closed.

Search this Blog

Contact Us

  • Email_1

Events & Lectures

  • Advertise your event or lecture here

News Feed

Comments Disclaimer

  • Comments on this site are the views and opinions of the persons who write the comments and do not reflect the views of the authors of this blog. Comments are often left unmoderated. Should you feel that you have been personally slandered in the comments, please let us know and we will remove the offensive comment.