The terrible murder of Yitzhak Rabin is a warning sign to us all, showing what might happen if we prefer that which divides and separates us over that which unites us and brings us together.

Address by PM Ariel Sharon on the 10th Commemoration
of the Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin
The Knesset, 14 November 2005

Rabin Family,
Mr. Speaker,
Distinguished Knesset,

There is no grown man or woman in this country who does not remember where they were or what they did on the night of the murder. We all stood frozen, stunned, at the bitter news – refusing at first to believe that such a crime could take place here.

And just like Job, we too wished that “that night be desolate”, but we do not have the right. On the contrary, that night must be remembered.  We must remember what hatred, fanaticism and intolerance can breed.

Israeli society, despite the magnificent achievements it has made in its 58 years of existence – is still a society in formation. There are no shortcuts in the maturation process of a society which is, to a large extent, an immigrant society. The Israeli democracy is a genuine source of pride, but still it must confront threats emanating from the ongoing process of integration between cultures, denominations, factions and sectors – on all their diverse traditions.

Amos Oz wrote, “Democracy, of necessity, involves people’s right to be different from one another. The difference between people is not a fleeting evil, but a source of blessing – we are different from one another not because some of us have not yet seen the light, but because in this world there are lights and not one light: faiths and convictions, and not one faith or one conviction”.

Jewish tradition has always valued diversity. During Succoth a person does not fulfill his/her obligation until all four varieties are in his/her hand as a single bundle. In the four varieties each one is different – and the commandment is to bind them all together, not despite their diverseness, but because of it. Because of the mutual enrichment which diversity creates and because only in the “togetherness” can there be full representation to all segments of the nation.

Despite the great diversity in Israeli society, it has, in the past year, successfully withstood one of the most important and difficult tests in its history. Various forces tried to question the authority of our elected institutes – the Government and the Knesset – to make decisions and carry them out. These attempts did not succeed.

The apocalyptic prophecies regarding a civil war which would involve casualties – have all been refuted.  And disobedience – an affliction which threatened to undermine the foundations of our democracy and endanger our unity – ultimately turned out to be marginal.

However, as in any campaign, yesterday’s achievement does not guarantee tomorrow’s victory, and the road to a mature society which resolves its internal disputes democratically is still long and challenging.

I often quote a statement made by Yitzhak Rabin in 1993 on the way to reaching this goal, and I quote: “Even if we do not see eye to eye, even if there are disagreements – even if there are differences and nuances, it is good and important to argue, but also to grit our teeth, bite our lips and continue together, in order to reach our common goal, when the good of the country takes precedence over any personal or political consideration”.

The terrible murder of Yitzhak Rabin is a warning sign to us all, showing what might happen if we prefer that which divides and separates us over that which unites us and brings us together.

Beyond political disagreements, beyond the various viewpoints in Israeli society, beyond the differences of tradition and the variety of opinions – the decisive majority of the people of Israel is united in its love for this land and its loyalty to the state.

Therefore, I am confident that all components of Israeli society will be able to identify the goal, which is common to us all, beyond the sea of disagreements and the mosaic which comprises our society. 

Thank you.

PM Sharon’s Address at the Grave of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
Mount Herzl, 14 November 2005

Rabin Family,
Distinguished Guests,

Yitzhak Rabin is not only the man and the leader who was assassinated; Yitzhak Rabin is the generation which, in the spring of its youth, shouldered the weight of revival,  with sacrifice, blood and arduous strain. It is the fighting generation that suffered so many casualties, and of which the poet Alterman wrote: “To you the nation, on the sword of liberty, bows down and cries, understand it.”  That courageous and upright generation, whose back has become hunched, whose hair has turned gray with years, and in whose heart the assassination of Rabin left a mortal wound of indignation which cannot be atoned for and pain which cannot be healed.

Yitzhak Rabin was one of the outstanding members of the revival generation. His part will never be missing from the pages of the State of Israel’s history – as commander of the Harel Brigade which rescued Jerusalem in the War of Independence, for his role in building the IDF and in its glowing victory in the Six Day War, for his contribution to the special ties between Israel and the United States and for his achievements as Prime Minister and Minister of Defense.

I loved Yitzhak, even in times of discord. We went a long way together, in the IDF, in the struggle for revival and defense of the State, and as its delegates. Our friendship and mutual respect was maintained even when we turned to different and opposing political paths. When I felt he was wrong, I did not spare him my criticism, and visa versa. However, I never doubted Yitzhak’s integrity, honesty and his genuine intentions to faithfully serve the people of Israel according to his own beliefs, and bravely strive for security and peace.

Jewish history placed on the shoulders of our generation the heavy responsibility of ensuring the future of the State of Israel. The citizens of Israel assigned us – Yitzhak Rabin then and me today, the scepter of fateful responsibility, not in order to remain stagnant. On the contrary, this deposit is an asset of faith and credit from the people, to act, navigate, lead and show initiative in order to realize the Zionist vision; in order to make every possible effort to end the bloody conflict between our neighbors and ourselves; in order to sustain a Jewish and democratic State of Israel within secure borders and a united Jerusalem as its eternal capital; in order to nurture the State of Israel, founded on the values of a developed Hebrew heritage and culture, on social justice, economic prosperity, aliyah, security and peace. Yitzhak Rabin strove for the achievement of these goals, and for these goals I too strive, in a slightly different manner, of course.

The appalling murder of Yitzhak Rabin obligates us to do our utmost to ensure that the State of Israel will never stray from the Jewish-democratic path; its decisions will be taken, without fear, by its authorized institutions and no vile murderer, inciter or instigator will prevent it from tirelessly striving towards security and peace. We will conduct the debate, as penetrating and deep as it may be, over the path which will take us to the longed for goal, as free men in a democratic state, with respect, tolerance and a common destiny.

Today, under the autumn Jerusalem sky, I bow my head to the unforgettable image of a friend, commander and immaculate leader, who was eternally devoted to the people of Israel, and also to the memory of his dedicated wife, Leah, in respect, honor, love and gratitude.