Jewish Journal


November 2, 2000

Reflecting on Rabin


Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League:

"Yitzhak Rabin left Israel with a twin, interconnected legacy that remains even more relevant today than in his lifetime. First is the need for Israel to be strong - militarily, politically, psychologically - because without such strength there can neither be security nor a chance for peace. Second, there is the legacy of the willingness, out of strength, to reach out for peace.

This offers hope to the people of Israel and reassures the citizens that if they must defend themselves, it is with the knowledge that Israel has done everything possible to achieve peace. As the country moves through these difficult times, it is vital that Rabin's twin legacy remains alive."

Todd Morgan, chairman of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles:

"It's ironic on the anniversary of his assassination that we would be facing the serious issues today that are even more volatile than the day before his assassination. Five years forward, you'd think we'd have peace right now. It shows you how deep and serious the issues are. We need a minor miracle to help us reignite the peace discussions."

Richard Dreyfuss, actor:

"I have never regretted anything so much as I regret Rabin's absence. I believe his singular presence that turned the impossible into the probable might have made the difference for these two peoples, and for the unnecessary dead. It wasn't just naiveté that made us think peace was close, it was his hardheaded realism. As they begin to say, 'I told you so,' remember him. Rabin was more than a great man, he was opportunity lost. While we turn back to fury and blood, let us remember what might have been, had Rabin lived."

Robert Greenwald, film director:

"The assassination five years ago had a deep impact on me in a profound way. It's an upsetting, reinforcing reminder - one we understand all too well now - that violence begets violence and killing begets killing. It's a reminder that any other solution than brute force must be found for the current conflict."

Cynthia Ozick, novelist:

"Rabin's legacy has been a Jewish tragedy. He drove a population into utopianism. It is very clear that it was a mistake from the beginning. We are more disillusioned now because it was an illusion beforehand. We imagined we had counterparts also willing to compromise, but there never were, not for Shimon Peres, not for Binyamin Netanyahu and not for Ehud Barak. We wanted it to be one land with two nations. We hoped it was. We believed it was. But from the other side it was always jihad, holy war. This is not said in the spirit of 'I told you so,' but in the deeply tragic spirit that all Jews now share."

Rod Lurie, film director:

"As a child, I remember Yitzhak Rabin visiting our home in Israel. He was a friend of my parents, and I vaguely remember him sitting for the official portrait that my father painted of him in our garden. Not having anything more interesting to do, while sitting for his painting, he looked at me with his light-blue eyes, and it was the first time I registered to myself that a person can smile with his eyes. Later, when I was a teenager, I met him when he visited our home in Greenwich, Conn., and had a chat with him about the Middle East. I was fascinated to find out how much I learned about the psychology of that region from a gentle person with a mind like a steel razor. The Middle East would look different today had he not been assassinated, and the political situation would be much more defined and coherent than the tumult that engulfs it now. He is the closest that an Israeli leader ever came to John Kennedy in charisma, style, decision-making and even looks. They even departed this world in the same unfortunate way. The impatient gods wanted them early, for themselves."

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