In the 66 years of our independence, we have experienced happy events as well as difficult and painful events. We have known times of excitement and euphoria, and also days of anxiety, pain and grief.
However, the darkest moment of our annals will forever be remembered with disgrace in the history of the State of Israel as a stain that does not fade, and that is the night Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was murdered. Yitzhak Rabin, of blessed memory, was murdered in the heart of Tel Aviv. And what made this incident even more horrifying and unbelievable was the fact that the Prime Minister, a leader who fought for so long to establish our independence and strengthen our security, was murdered by a Jew, a despicable murderer whose hand did not even shake as he fired the fatal gun. I repeat – and it is important that we all say this again and again – this murderer will not be pardoned and he can never be pardoned.
Mr. Speaker, I know you are familiar with history in general and Jewish history in particular, but I allow myself to make a comment: I do not think that the Jewish people in the modern era is caught up in the corruptions of other peoples and those we demonstrated during ancient times, behavior which led to a civil war for the walls of Jerusalem during the Roman siege. We learned that lesson, and from that trauma we learned not to fight wars against ourselves or commit murder amongst ourselves, unlike many other peoples during the modern era.
There has never been a civil war in Israel and our leaders worked to ensure that there would not be. That is why the great shock of the murder of the Prime Minister is a warning sign that the people of Israel, our sons and daughters, our grandchildren and the generations to follow, must continue to hold in our consciousness.
All Yitzhak Rabin’s life, from his birth until the day he died, was dedicated to public service. He was a fighter and a commander in the Palmah; Chief of General Staff of the IDF and one of the liberators of Jerusalem; ambassador to the United States; Prime Minister; man of defense and man of peace.
Many in Israel, myself included – even those who disagreed with him from time to time – always appreciated his profound loyalty to the State of Israel, and saw how he wanted and worked towards its benefit. Rabin knew how to stand determinedly for Israel’s interests as he understood them, and he represented the country with pride.
For example, when he was invited to a festive dinner with the President of the United States at the White House in September 1974, several months after he began serving as Prime Minister, he presented his host with a gift: a silver statue of David and Goliath. He said, "The fate of the Jewish people was to fight, few against many, and to believe that we would win because of justice. In any event, it would be better if we had more sophisticated weapons than David’s slingshot and stones so that justice can prevail".
It is an important lesson for us all, for a Government of Israel that stands for its principles, a country that respects itself and its sovereignty, should have the tools to defend the country and its strength.
Rabin worked very hard as Chief of General Staff, Minister of Defense and Prime Minister to ensure the strength of the IDF as an essential instrument for safeguarding our future and achieving peace with our neighbors. Without the IDF, the fate of the Jewish people would have been like the fate of our people during the years of exile. The IDF was and remains the thing that stands between us and annihilation. This is always true, even when we reach peace agreements, and also when we do not. And we aspire to reach them. Our strength is the guarantee both of our existence and of peace.
Today, when we are surrounded by the turmoil of the storm and of the crescent, these things are truer than ever. We are working to exhaust the chance for peace. We do not want a binational country, but at the same time, we do not want an Iranian proxy in Judea and Samaria, as has already happened along our borders. This requires that Israel’s security border be placed in the Jordan Valley, exactly as Yitzhak Rabin said in his final speech to the Knesset several weeks before his death.
What was true then is even truer today given the rise of radical Islam, given that Iran’s agents have taken control of territories from which we withdrew in Lebanon and Gaza. The Middle East is roiling and the key to achieving peace with our Palestinian neighbors lies first in our ability to defend the peace and to defend ourselves, in case other forces try to unravel the peace.
Members of Knesset, the murder of Yitzhak Rabin was not just an assassination that occurred in a democracy and a fatal blow at the heart of the country, it was also a great human tragedy because Yitzhak Rabin was a special person, a man of great values and deep roots, shy and opinionated at the same time, an athletic redhead, very Israeli, a true sabra to his very core, and at the same time he was completely open to the world changing around us. However, above all, his genuine concern for the future of the country, for its well-being and security was clear to see, as was the knowledge that he personally bore the burden of ensuring them.
When such a man is taken, something dies inside us. Even if our path leads to security, peace and prosperity – we will not be comforted so quickly because a great man fell in Israel, but first and foremost he was a man.
May his memory be blessed.