Updated: Oct 6, 2021
October 18th is the national memorial day for Yitzchak Rabin, one of Israel's most memorable prime ministers, whose life ended tragically.
Who was Yitzchak Rabin, and why was he so crucial in the forming of Israeli history?
Who was Yitzhak Rabin?
Yitzhak Rabin was born in Jerusalem before the State of Israel was formed. His family moved to Tel Aviv a year later, where he grew up. There was a responsibility to build the country from the ground up at the time, which led Rabin to study agriculture. He later joined the Haganah and then the Palmah, and fought alongside thousands to create the strong State of Israel we know today. He served 27 years in the army before becoming Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, where he deeply strengthened ties between the U.S. and Israel.
When Golda Meir resigned in 1974, he became the fifth Prime Minister of Israel. However, he later had to step down from the role when his wife was caught in a scandal involving her having an American bank account. He was then re-elected in 1992.
Especially during his second term as prime minister, Rabin had a mission. Peace. Peace between Israel and Palestine, and peace between Israel and her surrounding countries. He did succeed to an extent – he signed a peace agreement with Jordan, and he was involved in the Oslo Accords. For that, he won a Nobel Peace Prize!
These Accords created an independent Palestine and strove to create a partnership between Israel and Palestine. They also granted the Palestinian Authority partial control over Gaza and the West Bank.
Rabin faced a lot of criticism for this act, from both Israelis and Palestinians! But when Yitzhak Rabin shook hands with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, he said,
"We who have fought against you, the Palestinians, we say to you today, in a loud and clear voice, enough of blood and tears ... enough!"
His strong words continue live on in Rabin's memory throughout the country. He was a man who believed in unity and in love, and fought for change.
Death and legacy
Rabin was a heavy smoker. People would always tell him “stop smoking, it’s going to kill you."
But in the end, Rabin met his end tragically. Rabin was assassinated at a rally for peace at the very well know Rabin Square formally known as Kings of Israel Square. He was murdered by Yigal Amir, on November 4, 1995. He had just sung the song "Shir La'shalom" or "song for peace." The words to the song were on a piece of paper that was in his breast pocket.
The bullet that killed him shot clean through that piece of paper- the song for peace- and will always be a constant reminder of how we must continue to strive for the love and kindness that Rabin tried so hard to teach his people.
Rabin is buried on Mount Herzl, alongside the myriad of other Israeli heroes, prime ministers, veterans, and dreamers