The Rabin Affair

The “Rabin Affair”

These days when the news is filled with stories of events taking place in Prime Minister Netanyahu’s official residence of I thought it appropriate to share a bit of history.

In March 1977, Leah Rabin was spotted by an Israeli journalist in Washington withdrawing money from a bank while visiting with her husband the Prime Minister. So began the Rabin dollar account affair. It was soon discovered that the Rabins had not closed a dollars they maintained during the period that Rabin served as Israel’s Ambassador to the United States. According to Israeli law at the time Israelis were not allowed to hold accounts abroad and diplomats were expected to close those accounts upon their return to Israel. The Rabins’ had two accounts holding $10,000 dollars. The action was a technical violation of the law. To that point in time, when similar cases had taken place, the matter was settled with a small administrative fine. However, in this case, Israeli Attorney General Aharon Barak announced that it was his intention to prosecute the couple – even though the accounts were managed completely by Leah. A.G. Barak stated that it was important for leaders to be held up to the highest possible standards.  Prime Minister Rabin took responsibility, asserting that he was as responsible as his wife. In the wake of these accusations, Rabin resigned his position as Prime Minister.

On a personal note, at the time I was a lone soldier in the I.D.F.  A few weeks before the affair, when I came home on Friday the phone in my apartment was ringing. When I answered, to my great surprise, it was Leah Rabin on the other side. She had met my mother at an Israel Bonds Gala the previous week. Since in those days calling America was very costly, and certainly not a daily event, Leah Rabin just wanted to call and relay her regards.

That was then … this is now … “Eich naflu giborim”– (How the mighty have fallen).

About the Author
Marc Schulman is the editor of -- the largest history web site. He is the author a series of Multimedia History Apps as well as a recent biography of JFK. He holds a BA and MA from Columbia University, and currently lives in Tel Aviv. He is also a regular contributor to Newsweek authoring the Tel Aviv Diary. He is the publisher of an economic news App about Israel called DigitOne and has a weekly newsletter on substack called Israel Update
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