Rabin Remembered

Reflections on Yitzhak Rabin (1922-1995)

Israelis recently marked the ninth anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a Jewish extremist named Yigal Amir.

Alison Kaplan Sommer writes:
Mommy, Yitzhak Rabin was killed in Tel Aviv, right? By a bad guy with a gun named Yigal Amir. And he was Jewish, too. Mommy, tell me again, why did the bad guy kill Yitzhak Rabin?”

It’s that time of year again.

As November rolls around, the questions begin flying thick and fast from my son Eitan — questions about Rabin’s assassination, exactly how he was killed, where he was killed, who killed him, and the hardest question to answer — why?

Eitan is seven years old — he was born in September 1996, 10 months after Rabin’s assassination in November 1995. He never lived at the same time as Rabin.

Yet — with all the ceremonies, memorial rallies, and class lessons about his life, through the ever-growing number of schools, parks, roads, and buildings named after him — Yitzhak Rabin is vivid and real and familiar to my son — much more so than today’s politicians.

Eitan can regale you with stories about Rabin’s childhood, where he went to school, his army career. But mainly, he can tell you the details of the assassination — the date it happened, the location — how Rabin was approached, how many shots were fired. He knows that the man who killed him was named Yigal Amir, and that he was Israeli and Jewish. He knows that Amir was angry at Rabin for signing a peace agreement with the Arabs. He knows that Amir is in jail and will never get out. And yet, every year, he wants to know more.

All of this feels eerily familiar. I was born in September 1964, 10 months after the assassination of John F. Kennedy — an event now being marked with 40th anniversary commemorations. At Eitan’s age, I, too, could rattle off stories of the Kennedy clan, recount the drama of Oswald and Ruby, describe where the grassy knoll was located and the color of the suit Jackie Kennedy was wearing that was splashed with her husband’s blood. ...
- An Unsealed Room: Rabin