PRIME MINISTER AND DEFENSE MINISTER’S LETTER TO BEREAVED FAMILIES

(Communicated by Defense Ministry Spokesman)

The following is the text of Prime Minister and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s letter to bereaved families on the occasion of Memorial Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars, April 12, 1994:

Dear Families,

It is already late at night, past midnight, and this is the eighth or ninth time that I am writing to you, on the eve of Memorial Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars and the 46th Independence Day. What should I write? It is already late at night, and I know that you are tossing in your sleep; your thoughts turn to the words and the pictures, and the memories of your son, daughter, father, husband or brother. They return to you in your dreams, forever young young men and women who only began their lives and who wanted to live and love, to build homes. Young men and women who looked to the future with great hope, which was cut down.

In Memorial Day letters, I have always written to you about peace and about the great hope to put an end to the wars. I always mentioned the dream of peace. From my standpoint, at least, this was not lip service; they were not empty words. I hoped, I believed, I dreamt with many or all of you that the day would indeed come. It has come. It is still difficult, still tormented, still encountering obstacles but it is here. I believe that peace is possible, that the time has come to put an end to the wars. I believe that we must try to give it a chance, especially now, when we are strong enough to strike any enemy if, God forbid, we are proved wrong.

Perhaps I am mistaken. Perhaps not. But I am convinced that more than anyone, it is precisely the fighters, precisely those who have seen the inferno with their own eyes, and who have personally felt the horrors of war including the families, who have paid the most terrible price of all, who are steadfast in believing in the dream of peace and want it more than others though, of course, not at any price.

For your sons and daughters, for the husbands, fathers, sisters and brothers, peace if and when it comes will have come too late. We owe you this attempt, you whose homes have been struck by such a terrible tragedy. It is written in the Book of Jeremiah: ‘Let your voice refrain from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for your work shall be rewarded, so says the Lord.’ Weeping? Tears? We will not cease weeping for those who have gone. Perhaps peace will be their reward? Perhaps.

It is already past midnight; your sleep is tormented and your dreams wander back to the childhoods of your sons and fathers. The pictures of those dear to you, and to us, appear in front of your wide-open eyes; they who will forever remain children, young, whom we will always love.

This year too, we have lost wonderful people. This year too, we went to the military cemeteries many times. The bereaved families collect more and more families into their midst, and the war is not yet over. I have no words of consolation for you, because I know well that no words have yet healed the pain, and that all words lose their meaning when they meet your faces and your eyes.

So what can I say to you on the eve of Memorial Day? Only, be strong and brave for the other members of your families, for all of us. I pray for your well-being and my heart is with you.