The following speech was Written and Given by MK Isaac Herzog – Leader of the Opposition
President Rivlin and Nechama,
Mr. Prime Minister,
The Rabin Family: dear Dalia, Yuval; Yitzhak and Leah’s grandchildren: Michael, Noah, Jonathan, Omar, Yitzhak’s sister Rachel and the extended family,
Ambassadors, members of the diplomatic corps,
Comrades of Yitzhak from Labor,
Personal friends of Yitzhak and Leah,
Rabin Center board members and staff,
Fellows, Members of Knesset,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
At the outset, I send my condolences to the family of G’daaan Assad, the police officer who was murdered in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem today and wish a speedy recovery to the injured. My heart skips a beat for this brutal assault and indiscriminate attack against innocent civilians.
This severe terrorist event today, that joins a long line of attacks in the heart of Jerusalem, just highlights the fact that 19 years ago, we lost the way that was led by Yitzhak Rabin. 19 years, during which Israel should already be somewhere else.
It did not happen. 19 years lost and we must not lose even one more day. We do not have the luxury to continue to gamble on our future and our lives.
Nineteen years have passed since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, of blessed memory, a Palmach leader, the Chief of Staff, Defense Minister and Prime Minister – and we are still experiencing the feeling of shock – but mostly the nostalgia.
Missing the man.
Missing the way.
Missing a leader.
True, we will never know what would have happened if those three bullets were not fired by the low and vile murderer.
We can only guess where we would be today, since the night of November 4th, 1995 to the present, were Rabin alive and continued on his way.
Yitzhak was a fighter. But he was a fighter who hated violence and dreamed of peace.
I was standing next to him that night when he went to speak the last speech. I could see the sparkle in his eyes when he admitted to the masses that stood in the square against violence and for peace.
Yitzhak worked tirelessly to promote the values in which he believed.
Values of democracy, security, peace, social and economic growth, strengthening and building of a Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence, Zionist activism that is sane and responsible, and concerned for all.
Values that are the foundation of the Labor Party, the party that he led, the party that laid the solid foundations of the State of Israel.
Unfortunately, these values of Yitzhak, and the Labor Party have been abandoned, and especially during the current regime. It’s time to bring them back.
With your permission, in my words today I prefer to talk about the work of Rabin.
Talk to all of us. Israeli citizens.
Talk about the missed opportunity.
Precious time that has been lost.
Close our eyes for a moment and try to imagine what it could look like today in the State of Israel if Yitzhak Rabin were still with us.
Let’s try to challenge ourselves and imagine what would have developed during the lost years, in the realms of politics, economics, social, welfare, and security.
Yitzhak’s conception of Israel was of a national home for the Jewish people, for whom home is a place that gives a sense of security and belonging, an embrace, a place that offers protection.
Is this what our home looks like today? Are our children safe? Those who are sitting here today, do you understand that there is a sense of personal security?
You, Members of Knesset and distinguished guests, like me, like all citizens of the country, know the answer.
And what happened with housing for all?
During the Rabin period, there were tens of thousands of housing units across the country and in Jerusalem, new neighborhoods grew and prospered, without bellicose statements and provocative press conferences.
What happened since then? How is the housing situation in Israel? And what percentage of young couples can acquire an apartment today compared to the time of Rabin? Several months’ salaries are needed now compared to then, to buy an apartment?
Here, too, it seems that every citizen knows well the answer.
In the field of socio-economic reforms, Rabin led us with far-reaching measures, including the deployment of a social safety net and pensions system, taxation that is more equitable and fair to all citizens.
Rabin understood very well the need to build a solid economic and social infrastructure. He realized the importance of infrastructure development, and an education budget that increased school hours. He built enormous new schools throughout the country.
Yitzhak Rabin was Mr. Security – Rabin dealt with terrorism and a violent intifada, such as what we see today in Jerusalem.
There is no disagreement among us that we have to fight a determined war on terror. There is deep disagreement among us, however, about the path. I’ll tell you what Yitzhak said to us all: The war on terror must be fought side by side with making a political effort.
Rabin, who called himself “A real Jerusalemite “- he knew how to build and nurture Jerusalem and to maintain its status and unique nature without making it a point of explosive contention. He led an historic breakthrough in negotiations with the Palestinians. He signed the historic peace treaty with Jordan. Since its twenty years of its existence, it is a cornerstone of our national security strategy.
Prime Minister Rabin knew to keep the security interests of Israel and to foster excellent relations with our critical ally, the United States, which is a foundation for all of our national interests.
Unlike the current government, Prime Minister Rabin refused always to be captured by extremists and extortionists.
Rabin won the respect and love of two US presidents – George HW Bush and Bill Clinton, who eulogized him with the words: “Dear Friend”.
And today? Everyone knows how far relations with the US and other major countries have deteriorated.
In his speech at the signing of the peace agreement with Jordan, flanked by President Clinton and King Hussein, Rabin said:
“I have no assets, I only have dreams – to bequeath to future generations a better world, a more conciliatory, pleasant world to live in. It is not too much.”
Indeed, Yitzhak Rabin was a prime minister who spoke little and went far. He brought with him not only a great spirit of political momentum, but also a powerful social leadership. Rabin understood both security and social security.
Not only did the international and regional status of Israel soar to an unprecedented peak, but also as a result, the economy took off and there was a creative society.
The central feature of Rabin’s term was a fundamental change of priorities.
More social welfare efforts for the periphery and more for the younger generation. My party will lead with this vision with all our might!
Yitzhak’s domestic policies included the reduction of social inequalities, producing a huge investment in education, welfare, immigrant absorption, health and infrastructure.
A big budget effort was devoted to improving the situation of minority populations and instilling a sense of full participation and equality for non-Jewish Israeli citizens.
The Arab region opened its doors to relations with Israel – from Morocco to the Gulf. Israel’s prestige shone.
Now, open our eyes and look around. Murderous terrorist attacks in Jerusalem, more deaths and injuries, millions of citizens under Hamas rocket attacks, the ring of international isolation is tightening. Uncertainty and confusion dominate almost every aspect of our life.
Imagine where we were supposed to come with Yitzhak Rabin – and see how things have deteriorated since then! If Rabin were alive, we could reach the greatest revolution in Jewish history and the sword with which we live today would become lessened!
Is it not clear to you, Mr. Prime Minister and the members of your government – that the sand in the hourglass regarding the political and social and economic security of Israel is running out? Ladies and Gentlemen! We have to choose a different way, and go back to the way of Rabin.
Yitzhak’s murder was, of course by an ideological fanatic. But the question is whether the lesson was learned? I say that the lesson was not learned. We have not placed a clear limit of ostracizing and delegitimizing the wild fanaticism that could lead to the next murder!
It is impossible to deny and hide the fact that the phenomenon of radicalization among us has not weakened since the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, but intensified, and the danger is most serious.
The murder deviated us from the road. We must restore sanity and tolerance in Israeli society.
Rabin was recognized and honored for his courage to promote dramatic moves. Big moves that change the reality.
He will go down in history as leading one of the great governments of Israel.
But, pay attention!!
History is waiting for an Israeli leader to bring a separation agreement between the Palestinians and us. We’re here forever – they are there! Close but distant!
To lead such a big move requires a courageous leader.
A leader capable of fateful decisions, to keep the Jewish and democratic character of the State of Israel and lead to ending the conflict.
I do not claim that the two-state solution is easy to move. This process involves severe pain of mind and body to achieve and to maintain.
I have no illusions about this. Rabin had no illusions in this matter.
But the alternative to solving the separation between the two nations is a disaster in the form of a bi-national state, where, in a few generations there will be a Jewish minority.
Yes ladies and gentlemen … a bi-national state is where we are being led today. This is a disaster. Zionism will be at an end, and it will mean an end to our national home.
And therefore, the State of Israel requires leader capable of making historic and difficult decisions – and not those who prefer to escape into the realms of fear and intimidation.
In 1980, Yitzhak Rabin said, “Fear does not build a state.”
Mr. Chairman, Members of Knesset,
It was Yitzhak himself who said: Peace is made with enemies.
Over the years, we have seen that this insight is correct.
We knew that we had to overcome the disgust and anger toward the German people when, not many years after the Holocaust, Israel established a relationship with the German government and there is now a great friendship between the two countries. Unforgiving and never forgiven – but as a country we overcame.
We also knew that to overcome the pain and grief of war, we made a peace agreement with Egypt.
Hence we must work hard to overcome obstacles and the pain of the present and reach a separation agreement with the Palestinian people. The solution first and foremost must ensure the security for future generations of Israelis.
It is in our interest!
I would like to thank Dalia Rabin and wonderful staff of the Yitzhak Rabin Center for their work throughout the year to commemorate and work of Yitzhak.
On a personal note I would add that for me, Yitzhak’s Memorial Day Memorial Day is also a time to commemorate his wife, Leah. I loved her very much and always like to mention and remember that it was Leah who pioneered the great revolution that led to the treatment of autism in Israel.
Yitzhak, this day when I am privileged to sit in the seat as head of the Labor Party, I pledge that my hevrai and myself, we will never forget you, Yitzhak Rabin – the elder son of this generation, warrior, Chief of Staff and Prime Minister of Peace, the man who symbolized the rebirth of Israel, its security, independence, strength and longing for the path to security, peace and hope. We will do everything to realize your legacy and march your way.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Yitzhak’s Way was not murdered. We will renew it soon – it will become stronger and we will prevail and win.
The Knesset, Kiryat Ben Gurion, Jerusalem 91950 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org