With your presence here to pay your respect to the memory of Yitzhak Rabin, you honor him, and you honor us.
Greetings by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom to Rabin Memorial Delegation Heads
Jerusalem, 14 November 2005
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great honor to welcome so many distinguished leaders from around the globe to Jerusalem, the eternal and united capital of Israel, and the Jewish people. With your presence here to pay your respect to the memory of Yitzhak Rabin, you honor him, and you honor us. On behalf of the Government of Israel and our people, I thank you all, for your friendship and support – then, now and in the future.
I have been a close friend of the Rabin family for many years, and I knew Yitzhak Rabin well. Yitzhak Rabin was one of the great heroes of Israel. His loss was felt by all Israelis, and indeed, by the whole world. In many ways he symbolized the modern homecoming of the Jewish people from two thousand years of Diaspora – and our just struggle to build a democratic, secure and peaceful country, in the land of our forefathers.
The State of Israel has come a long way since that dark night in November, ten years ago. Although for many amongst us all seemed lost, our nation has shown resilience and fortitude. Our economy has grown, our population has increased, we have secured our place at the forefront of the global technology revolution, and we have successfully integrated waves of immigrants. Particularly in the last two years, our international standing has improved immensely, as reflected by the presence of so many friends here today.
Along the way, however, we have had to withstand a brutal terror onslaught, which sought not only to take lives, but to take from us our peaceful way of life. In the process, it left thousands of innocent people dead, and our peace efforts stalled for almost five years.
Indeed, despite all our achievements, our dream of bringing security and peace to our people – the dream to which Yitzhak Rabin dedicated his life – has remained elusive.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Israel remains committed to that dream. It continues to fire our soul, and to guide our every move. Together with your help, I am confident that we can build on the renewed momentum that we have created through our disengagement from Gaza; and make real progress towards greater dialogue, understanding, cooperation and peace, in our region.
Our push for peace in 2005 is taking place in a different regional and global environment, than that which existed a decade ago. We have learnt from the difficulties that our peace efforts have encountered – and from the spread of the terrorism across the globe – that we must carry the battle to the terrorists, if peace is to prevail. We have learned that the spread of democratic institutions and values offers the best hope against the tyranny of terror. And we have learned that democracy must be actively defended and protected, against those who use violence, to promote their political aims.
Particularly as we make painful moves towards peace, it is crucial that we do everything to protect and promote our democratic institutions and values. For it is these which guarantee our future as free people.
Yitzhak Rabin himself recognized this imperative. In prophetic words, in his speech on the night of his assassination, he remarked that: "Violence erodes the basis of Israeli democracy. It must be condemned and isolated."
But he also understood that violence threatens the basis of Palestinian democracy as well. This is why the Oslo Accords of 1995 forbid the participation in Palestinian elections of armed groups committed to Israel’s destruction. Such groups are not partners in democracy; they are its mortal enemies. Allowing them to participate in democratic elections will not strengthen democracy, it will strengthen the terrorists. And it will make our future peace efforts even more difficult.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The opportunity to shape the Middle East of tomorrow is in our hands today. As Yitzhak Rabin himself understood, and related to the world, when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in December of 1994, the eyes of all our citizens "are upon us, and their hearts are asking: How is the power vested in these men and women being used? What will they decide? Into what kind of morning will we rise tomorrow?"
On this anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin – and in the presence of so many distinguished representatives of the governments of the world – I urge the international community to stand as one, and to rejoin the battle that Yitzhak Rabin fought so bravely throughout his life – for the right of Israel and its neighbours, to live in peace and security, free from terror and war.
In his youth, Yitzhak Rabin wanted to become a water engineer. However, at the age of sixteen, he had to lay down the tools of his trade, and take up arms to defend and protect his country and his people. As we remember his life – and the peaceful, secure future he sought to bring to this land – nothing could be more appropriate, than to recall the promise of the prophet, Isaiah:
וכתתו חרבותם לאתים, וחניתותיהם למזמרות
לא ישא גוי אל גוי חרב ולא ילמדו עוד מלחמה
"They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, and they shall learn war, no more."