was born on 11-1-96, almost exactly a year after Rabin was assassinated. This page is in memorial to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

The following editorial was published in the Columbia Daily Spectator days after the assassination.

"A tribute to Prime Minister Rabin", by Dylan Tauber:

The New Jew is Wounded


As a student in Jerusalem three years ago I was amazed that everybody in Israel seemed to walk around the streets with handguns, and yet nobody was shooting eachother. Last year in Manhattan on the subway at 2 in the morning the man sitting off to my right raised his arm and I saw a 9mm tucked in his belt- and I was uncomfortable. So I was relieved when I was back in Israel this summer, where, in my mind at least, people care about eachother and still smile when they tell you what time it is.

But things had changed. Everywhere I went I saw people yelling at eachother, fist fights, anger, billboards reading Prime Minister Rabin is a Nazi, and general frustration everywhere. Either I am a lot more cynical or something has really changed in Israel, and I suspect its not just me.

On Saturday, with the assassination of Yitzach Rabin, I was sure of it. The New Jew is sucking off life support and no one seems to be noticing. So I figured I'd write this piece as a wake up call to any surviving New Jews (a term I use which can also describe good Buddhists, Hari-Kristnas, or anyone else who cares about life and the Other more than their ego) out there who might be reading this.

When I logged into America Online Saturday afternoon, I plugged into the horror of an entire nation. "Rabin Shot" read the cyberspace headline. Yitzach Rabin, Prime Minister of Israel, had been assassinated, but somehow it didn't seem real- I mean I was just signing on to get my e-mail. I cried. This was not only one of the biggest tragedies in modern Jewish history, but a day of sadness for the whole world. A man who has devoted his life to peace has been murdered in cold blood. Shot in the back by an ultra right wing Jewish fundamentalist.

Israel has not only lost its leader, but any remains of innocence as well. What is even more disturbing than the immediate shock and panic spread by the assassin's bullets, is what his action reflects in Israel today. It is a nation divided and for the first time since the birth of the Israeli State in 1948, a serious threat to its national security comes not from Arab armies, or even scud missiles. The threat is now itself.

While the country has always been divided politically, a constant state of war with its Arab neighbors has maintained a tremendous sense of unity. When Israel was founded out of the ashes of the Holocaust in 1948 a dream was born. "One nation one heart" was the war cry, as 600,000 vastly outnumbered Jews defended their newborn nation against hostile Arab armies. The unity resulting from the collective memory of 2000 years of suffering gave rise to an Israeli spirit strong enough to withstand 5 decades of wars and Arab hostility. In war after war the spirit of this "New Jew," as many of the Israeli poets and writers referred to themselves, became defined. Jews born in Israel were referred to as "Sabra" a desert fruit prickly and tough on the outside but sweet inside, willing to sacrifice, even die, for their community, for Israel. The spirit of this New Jew proved to be more powerful than their numerically superior foes.

Only once, was this unity challenged. In June of 1948, the Irgun, a right wing Jewish underground group, attempted to smuggle the Altalena, a ship carrying arms into Tel Aviv. As hundreds of Israelis watched, Ben Gurion, the first Prime Minister of Israel, ordered the Haganna (the forerunner of the Israeli Defense Forces) to sink the ship, establishing the central authority of the Israeli Government. Ironically, it was Rabin who was the commander of the forces on the beach who carried out this order to attack his fellow Jews. Menachem Begin, who later became Prime Minister and signed a peace agreement with Egypt, was on the ship and was nearly killed.

But the history of Jewish civil strife goes back much further in history. In fact the events of today are nearly identical to what took place 2000 years ago, with the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. due to the militant hysteria of a group of Jewish fundamentalists opposed to making peace with the Romans, calling themselves the Zealots. While the Romans surrounded Jerusalem, they had no need to attack- the Jews inside the city walls, dived into three groups, were killing eachother with zeal, and needed little help from the Roman soldiers. The result was a 2000 year exile of suffering and persecution. All this because a few stubborn Zealots were determined to maintain their honor rather than let the Romans hang their flag over Jerusalem.

Despite the parallels in history, the assassination has taken the world by shock. Political assassination is nothing new in the Middle East, but until now Israel was the exception. While Arabs have been fighting Arabs for as long as anyone can remember, Israel was founded on unity- on a universal a dream and a collective memory that gave birth to a collective soul, known to some as the New Jew. And with the assassination of Yitzack Rabin, the only Sabra Prime Minister in Israel's history, the New Jew has died as well. At best he is severely wounded.

The dream of a united Israel, "one nation, one heart" is shattered. For the first time since the founding of the State, Jewish blood has been taking by another Jew in political conflict, and the ideal of "one nation, one heart" is now in the past.

Despite Rabin's high standing in the eyes of many Israelis who respect him for his career as a general and his many military accomplishments including leadership during the Six Day War as Chief of Staff, his popularity has sunk over recent years. Protesters have been calling Rabin a Nazi and a traitor since he signed the Oslo Agreements with the Palestinians in 1993.

Yigal Amir, third year law student at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv, has been arrested on suspicion of assassinating Prime Minister Rabin and has confessed to the killing, telling police he acted on God's orders, according to Israel Radio.

Benyamin Netanyahu, the opposition leader denounced the groups associated with the assassination, saying "these lunatics should be removed from our society." But it was Netanyahu himself who encouraged these people, fanning the flame of their panic by calling Rabin a traitor who is jeopardizing the security of the state.

The crisis in Israel is greater than the acts of "several lunatics." Yes people like Baruch Goldstein who murdered over 40 Arabs in Hebron and Amir are the only ones who have put action behind the words of the extreme right, but these men are merely reflecting the dissonance of an entire nation. If Amir missed his bus to Tel Aviv on Saturday, or if his gun jammed, wouldn't it only be a matter of time before someone else from some other settlement pulled off some heinous political crime instead?

``I acted alone on God's orders and I have no regrets,'' the radio quoted Yigal Amir, as telling police investigators. But Amir's God is nothing but a mask for hatred, fear, and self destruction.

The real threat to Israel, the peace process, and in fact, the entire world, is militant religious fundamentalism- men claiming to messengers of God carrying out missions of death and destruction, the anti-thesis of the principles every religion was founded on. A religion that condones murder is in fact nothing more than a lie, and these so called religious zealots represent nothing but the darkest potential of humanity.

The Rabbis of the right-wing must unanimously denounce this assassination. We must all take example from the New Jew spirit which Rabin embodied, and find a spirituality that is rooted in self sacrifice, peace, love, amd unity, not the bloodshed of the Jewish and Moslem "religious" fanatics who are threatening to destroy not only all that good men have spent their lives building, but the very religious ideals that they claim to be defending.

Today both Rabin and Begin are dead, and the peace that each played an important role in creating is in jeopardy. Not because of threats from Egypt, Jordan, or the Palestinians. No- these countries, thanks to these two men, are now at peace with Israel. But today the blood tears of Israelis continue to flow, right where Rabin and Begin left off in June of 1948- fighting eachother. And not very far from where the Zealots, Pharisees, and Sagucees ended off in 70 A.D.

So what will happen now? How long will Israel be able to withstand this tension and avoid civil war? Will Israel destroy itself, all the men who have sacrificed their lives for this country to have died in vain?

The only answer is to continue the peace process with a renewed sense of urgency and determination. "Ain Breira," there is no choice, a phrase used for decades to describe Israel's need to survive its struggle with Arabs, should now be used to describe its struggle with itself.

The fact that a country can be in more danger in times of peace than in times of war- the threat of its own self destruction being more potent than any external enemy, and that a man devoted to peace and the betterment of his nation could be shot in the back by one of those he has devoted his life to protecting, is the saddest indictment of human nature I have witnessed.

Yitzhack Rabin is a true hero and his legacy will live on. The dream of peace is more powerful then the bullets of a single assassin. Shimon Peres, who has been appointed acting Prime Minister, has a massive responsibility, but just as it will take more than one murderer to destroy the peace, it will take more than one man to keep the peace process alive. Perhaps it will take a miracle. But Israel is the land of miracles for three religions, and as long as the human spirit which produces these miracles is stronger than the self destruction of the misguided few, the spirit of the New Jew will survive. Ain Braira.


Dylan Tauber

CC '96


1730 words