Nineteen years go by very quickly. Thirty three years go by very quickly as well.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. President Anwar Sadat.
Both men were pioneers. They pioneered peace. They were struck down by their own people.
What is it about the concept of peace that can so upset some? What is it about peace that can drive some to murder their own leaders? Is there some inherent evil hidden within the words Salaam and Shalom? Perhaps some hidden code, that once discovered, will change a Doctor Henry Jekyll into a Mr. Edward Hyde.
President Jimmy Carter stood together with Prime Minister Begin and President Sadat, just as years later President Clinton stood together with Prime Minister Rabin and Chairman Arafat. They made peace.
You need not tell me, because I know. It is difficult to make peace with one’s sworn enemy. Sometimes it seems that it is not possible. Sadat and his generals attacked Israel on its holiest day, Yom Kippur. Arafat was responsible for the deaths of countless innocent Jews, whether Israelis or not.
Yet, I believe that it is the warrior who best knows how to make peace. It is the warrior who has seen, first hand, the horrors of war. It is the warrior who will be the one most reluctant to send the seeds of the future generation into deadly conflict.
You need not tell me, because I know. Not far from Israel’s northern border with Syria, there is a world that has sunk into complete chaos. It matters nothing to anyone there who lives and who dies. All of the many warring factions there are intoxicated with violence and murder. But these Nobel Prize winners, Menachem Begin, Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin, Yasser Arafat, they were not. They held onto a small fragment of hope, that somehow a blood feud that had originated thousands of years ago, could end.
Anwar Sadat was murdered by “extremists”. Yitzhak Rabin was murdered by an “extremist”. (I personally have found only speculation and no facts surrounding the “Yigal Amir shot blanks” theories, later circulated.)
There have been others. Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Martin Luther King, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, Malcolm X, President Kennedy and Robert Kennedy, Benazir Bhutto and Indira Priyadarshini Gandhi are but a few of the world leaders who were murdered, cut down, for what they stood for.
It is a day of remembrance in Israel today. It is November 4th. It is a day that we remember. And perhaps we remember this day most of all because of Noa, the Prime Minister’s granddaughter, who woke up into a nightmare, without the column of fire that led the camp. We still feel, as she said, the enormous void left by his absence.