A dream of peace…
All of Israel had shut down. Our Prime Minister had been shot and everyone kept saying ‘I just hope it wasn’t a Jew who shot him’, but the fact that they kept saying this only highlighted the deep political divide in our nation. Everyone knew deep down that one of our own had just abandoned the ideals of democracy and chosen violence instead.
It seemed as though all of Israel was crying. Everywhere I looked, I saw people with tears in their eyes. Had we not been blessed by God with an almost supernatural unity until now? Until now, we had overcome every attack of the enemy on the Jewish people in our ancient homeland. What if our fears were right? What if our Prime Minister was murdered by one of our own? Could our nation make it through such politically divisive times? We could and we would, but it wouldn’t be easy.
The far left, the political proponents of the assassinated Prime Minister, were accusing the political right of inciting violence against our own nation’s leaders. The political right was accused of being just as guilty of assassinating the Prime Minister as the assassin himself, however, many in the political right were just as shocked and shaken by the assassination.
Israel, the only truly democratic nation in the Middle East, had now been infected by the same spirit of violence that thrived in surrounding nations. Was she sick forever with this disregard for human life? We hoped not, but a spirit of anger and outrage and mistrust was unleashed throughout Israel. It was only by the grace of God that we survived such a tragedy.
This coming week, as at this time every year, we are reminded in Israel of a time when a very highly respected leader in the Jewish homeland met his untimely demise. Yitzhak Rabin was the Prime Minister of Israel during the signing of the Oslo Accords and the demilitarization of the PLO, the terrorist group that had, until then, sought Israel’s total destruction.
Rabin was perhaps one of the only leaders in Israel who would have been able to maintain the trust of the Israeli public for as long as he did while making deals with leaders of what had been a terrorist organization. He had fought in both the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and in the Six Day War. He was both a war hero and a lover of peace.
Rabin was THE hero of the Six Day War, having conceived the strategies of swift mobilization of reserves and destruction of enemy aircraft on the ground that proved decisive in Israel’s victory in the war. Hailed as a leader who could guarantee Israel’s security, he held the position of Minister of Defense in Israel during much of the 1980’s.
Rabin was a man who had faced death and lived to see another day. He knew the pains of war and so knew the need for peace. The call for peace between Israel and her neighbors is actually written in Israel’s declaration of Independence and was central in all of Rabin’s policies. The call for peace is worded this way in Israel’s Declaration of Independence:
We extend our hand to all neighbouring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighbourliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land.
Rabin was so committed to this vision of peace and trusted by so many in Israel, that he had rallied enough support to offer “land for peace” — a policy of giving up land in order to achieve peace. Until Rabin, the terrorist group known as the PLO had sought Israel’s total destruction, but Rabin went so far as to make agreements with his terrorist enemies that had them putting down their guns and shaking hands with him in a deal that would see the end of their reign of terror — at least in Judea and Samaria and only for a short amount of time.
In the controversial Oslo Accords, Rabin and the leader of the PLO agreed that the PLO would demilitarize and put an end to their terrorist tactics in exchange for the promise of a nation of their own somewhere in the territory of Judea and Samaria. The PLO entered an era of security cooperation with Israel that continues to this day. This security cooperation is no small accomplishment, but rather a great legacy — a much-needed change that has allowed Israelis to breathe a little more freely for over two decades now.
Rabin’s policy of “land for peace” has proven far from helpful for Israel. As we saw with Gaza, land for peace doesn’t work. Nonetheless, the policy of security cooperation and demilitarization of the PLO was key in giving Israel the opportunity to pursue stabilization of the Judea and Samaria region while maintaining some semblance of support from the international community.
While his policies were controversial and many brought trying times upon Israel, I truly admire Rabin’s clear stance in his lifetime. No-one had any question regarding what he stood for and he wasn’t trying to hide it. He was also effective at pursuing the solutions that he saw best for Israel. He didn’t have all the answers, but he was willing to try the answers that he had and he had the trust of many to give his answers a try.
I pray that in this next generation, such a leader may bring about some much-needed change that might see an end to accusations against Israel as being an occupier. Such worthless accusations against Israel have been used for far too long and it’s time for the world to see Israel for what she really is: a nation of compassion, a nation in pursuit of peace with her neighbors that doesn’t come at the expense of security. Just as Rabin did, may we have the vigor to get things done, the heart to be peacemakers, and openness to consider innovative solutions to the unique challenges facing this region.
Israel has only gotten wiser in the past couple decades since Rabin’s death and a new generation both within Israel and around the world stands with a choice. Either we embrace the solutions best fit for our day or remain stuck on the outdated ideas of the past.
I pray that both you and I will be a voice for truth that might offer relief from some of the struggles faced in this part of the world. May the solutions of today not lead to the violent political divides of yesterday, but rather to unity among the people of the Jewish homeland. May we stand strong, by the grace of God, and live to see viable solutions put into place even as we wait for the return of our Messiah.