Yesterday marked the 20th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. Rabin was both a great defender of Israel, and a champion of peace. I wish I could write that despite Rabin’s death, we have been able to move closer to his vision of peace and co-existence, but as we know, that has not been the case. While there were and are many other factors and obstacles standing in the way of Israeli-Palestinian co-existence, in many ways Rabin’s assassin was successful in his goal of stopping the peace process.
How do we honor Rabin’s legacy? We no doubt will answer that question in different ways. But I hope we can agree on two things. One, his death reminds us what a climate of extremism – and the unchecked, irresponsible political incitement that comes with it – can lead to. We must recover and teach how we can maintain respect toward one another even in the midst of fierce disagreement. And two, we cannot let cynicism get the better of us. Even in this time, where a secure peace feels further away than ever, we should not insist on the impossibility of possibility. We cannot give into despair. We can still speak of peace. As Rabin famously said, “Enough of blood and tears. Enough.”
Wendell Berry wrote one of his Sabbath poems to his granddaughters who visited the Holocaust Museum on the day of the burial of Yitzhak Rabin.
Now you know the worst
we humans have to know
about ourselves, and I am sorry,
for I know that you will be afraid.
To those of our bodies given
without pity to be burned, I know
there is no answer
but loving one another,
even our enemies, and this is hard.
when a man of war becomes a man of peace,
he gives a light, divine
though it is also human.
When a man of peace is killed
by a man of war, he gives a light.
You do not have to walk in darkness.
If you will have the courage for love,
you may walk in light.