The Herald, Sharon,
PA Published Wednesday, Nov. 19, 1997


Rabin: All that is left is hope

By Pam Mansell
Herald Writer

Peace is such a quiet word, connoting all sorts of soft sentiments like harmony, brotherhood and love.

But that wasn't the view of peace that Leah Rabin spoke of Tuesday night as she received an honorary doctor of peacemaking degree from Westminster College, New Wilmington.

With an intensity that never wavered and with eloquence that bordered on poetry, she told the large audience of the pain and the bloodshed that have been part of the peace process in the Middle East.

And she told her listeners of the harsh price of peace, which, on Nov. 4, 1995, was death.

``Israel Square was crowded with people that day,'' Mrs. Rabin said, describing how everyone was waving banners and cheering. ``Peace was in the air; there was a huge carnival of peace. And he is happy,'' she said, of her husband Yitzhak enjoying the day, ``so happy in a way I have never seen him.''

And he was singing a song of peace, she said, a song about the sun shining.

``But when the sun shone on the fifth of November, he did not see it,'' she said. ``Fate played a very cruel role, and three bullets ended a life that was dedicated to peace.''

Yitzhak Rabin had served Israel in almost every capacity. He led the nation to victory in the historic Six Day War of 1967, served as Israeli ambassador to the United States from 1968 to 1973, became prime minister in 1974, later took the post of minister of defense, and then began another term as prime minister in 1992. He spearheaded the peace initiative by making peace with the Palestinians in 1993 and the Jordanians in 1994, actions that many Orthodox Jews in Israel strongly opposed, Mrs. Rabin said.

``He was trying to put an end to 100 years of conflict with the Palestinians,'' she said. One of his proposals was to return some Israeli-held land to the Palestinians, an idea repellant to ``those who think land is more important than peace,'' Mrs. Rabin said.

Many Israelis burned posters of Rabin and portrayed him in a Nazi uniform, she said. On Nov. 4, a member of a radical Jewish group killed him.

``He paid the price for peace,'' Mrs. Rabin said of her husband. ``To be murdered by his own people _ he simply would not believe that.''

Rabin, she said, had ``had enough of blood and tears. He dreamt of ending them forever. He dreamt of a better and more beautiful Israel.''

Instead, she said, what Israel got after his death was a ``nightmare that has been going on for two years.''

``The skies of our life have darkened'' since Rabin's death, she said. Where there once was ``partnership and trust and respect for each other,'' now there is ``contempt, suspicion and arrogance.''

In a news conference earlier in the day, Mrs. Rabin made clear her disapproval of current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She said he is ``very much personally responsible for the destruction of the peace process.''

``I see the peace process (between Israel and the Palestinians) as a tabernacle,'' she said. ``At the beginning it was quite shaky, but it was standing on a very strong foundation of trust, faith, partnership, respect and tons and tons of hope.

``Since Netanyahu, gone is the strong foundation. I doubt that he has a true and real desire for peace. Gone is the faith, gone is the trust, gone is the partnership. What we have left is hope.''

In her speech Tuesday evening, she urged the audience to hold onto that hope, however slim it may appear to be.

``Dreamers of peace, don't give up,'' she said. ``Don't let peace die, because if peace dies, so will many of us.''

Leah Rabin: Israel should say out of U.N.-Iraq crisis

NEW WILMINGTON -- During an afternoon news conference, several people asked Leah Rabin her views on the current United Nations situation with Iraq over weapons inspectors.

She said she wasn't really ``au courant,'' meaning up to date, on the latest events, but had been told that Israel ``may not be as threatened'' this time if war erupts.

``We really suffered last time,'' she said. ``Israel played no part, but they were really suffering. It was quite scary,'' she said, describing the Scud missile attacks that destroyed many buildings during the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

``Every local conflict, you only know how it starts,'' Mrs. Rabin said. ``You hardly ever know how it ends.''

She said she thought it was ``good news that Russia is interested in not having another conflict,'' and that the Russian support for peace might help bring it about.

As for any Israeli involvement in the situation, ``If we are sane, we'll stay out of it,'' she said. ``We have no relationship to Iraq, and no proximity to Iraq.''

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