Pursue Peace Anyway

Usually, on the anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, I like to re-read what ended up being his final speech.

He began:

Permit me to say that I am deeply moved. I wish to thank each and every one of you, who have come here today to take a stand against violence and for peace. This government, which I am privileged to head, together with my friend Shimon Peres, decided to give peace a chance–a peace that will solve most of Israel’s problems.

I was a military man for 27 years. I fought so long as there was no chance for peace. I believe that there is now a chance for peace, a great chance. We must take advantage of it for the sake of those standing here, and for those who are not here–and they are many.

Throughout the rest of the speech, he celebrated the progress in the Israeli-Arab peace process, particularly through partnership with Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco. Then, he spoke with hope about the possibility for greater cooperation with Palestinians and “even with Syria.”

The person who assassinated Rabin was not Muslim, but Jewish. He was not from an Arab country, but was born in Israel. He is sometimes described as a Jewish religious fanatic but the judges in his trial completely disputed this, saying:

Every murder is an abominable act, but the act before us is more abominable sevenfold, because not only has the accused not expressed regret or sorrow, but he also seeks to show that he is at peace with himself over the act that he perpetrated. He who so calmly cuts short another’s life, only proves the depth of wretchedness to which [his] values have fallen, and thus he does not merit any regard whatsoever, except pity, because he has lost his humanity. […] The attempt to grant religious authority to the murder…is completely inappropriate and amounts to cynical exploitation of Jewish law for goals that are alien to Judaism.”

What Rabin’s death shows is that no matter how much progress a person makes on a truly noble front, there will always be enemies to goodness who seek to sabotage such efforts.

The important thing is to see in the life and legacy of martyrs for true religion and for peace the tenacious constancy toward those noble goals.

Whether people are killed or cancelled, silenced or censored for their willingness to live in truth, their lives continue to be instructive even in exile and death.

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