Rabin Yitshak, 1922 - 1995, Year won 1994, the Israel Defense Force’s Chief of Staff during the Six-Day War, and the first Prime Minister to conduct Israel-Palestinian peace talks..
Yitshak Rabin was born in Jerusalem in 1922. He was a pupil at the Tel Aviv “School for Worker’s Children” and later studied at the Kadoorie Agricultural College. He joined the Palmach in 1940 and participated both as a soldier and commander, in numerous daring operations. In 1947, he was appointed deputy-commander of the Palmach and in 1948, when he was only twenty-six years old, he commanded the Harel Brigade which took part in the fight for Jerusalem.
With the establishment of the Israel Defense Forces, Yitshak Rabin filled numerous posts and in 1964 was appointed the IDF’s seventh Chief of Staff. In 1967, in the Six-Day War, he led the IDF to a brilliant and lightning victory over the Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian armies, in which the crowning glory was the reunification of Jerusalem. The speech given by Yitshak Rabin on Mount Scopus, upon receiving an honorary doctorate from the Hebrew University, symbolized and underscored the humanistic heritage that guided the Jewish fighting man and woman.
Rabin retired from the army in 1968, to become Israel’s ambassador in the United States. In 1973 He was elected to the Knesset and served for a short time as minister of labor in Golda Meir’s government.
In the wake of the military disaster of the Yom Kippur War, Golda Meir resigned and Yitshak Rabin was rocketed to the Prime Minister’s Office. It was during his term of office that Israel signed the Disengagement of Forces Agreements with Egypt and Syria.
Rabin resigned the premiership in 1977 and in 1992, when the Labor Party returned to power, he returned as Prime Minister, vowing to push forward the peace process with the Arab nations, that had begun at the 1991 Madrid Conference.
The Rabin’s government’s most significant achievement was the historic turning point in the relations between Israel and the Palestinians. Total hostility changed to open negotiations which led, in September 1993, to the famous handshake between Yitshak Rabin and Yasser Arafat in Washington, and to the signing of the Declaration of Principles which led the way to a five-year interim agreement prior to a permanent arrangement between Israel and the Palestinians.
The first steps on the road to an agreed solution of the Palestinian problem led the way to the signing, in October 1994, of a full peace treaty between the State of Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the slow development of normal relations with the majority of the Arab nations.
This historical dialogue won international acclaim when Yitshak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat were awarded the 1994 Nobel peace prize for their courage in surmounting all obstacles and achieving the desired goal.
The peace process, however, met with increased Arab terrorism and intense opposition from both radical religious and right-wing circles and the opposition parties in Israel.
On Saturday evening, November 4, 1995, at the conclusion of a huge rally in support of the peace process, a member of a right-wing religious group infiltrated the ring of security men around the prime minister and fired three fatal shots at him.
Deep national mourning, the like of which had never previously been experienced, enveloped the citizens of Israel. There was great sorrow at the loss of a courageous and beloved leader, a fighter who had led his people in times of war, and a statesman who had had the wisdom to lead them towards peace.
Rabin’s death revealed the depth of identification of the young people of Israel with his straightforward personality and his ‘sabra’ image, and their belief in, and desire for, peace.