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November 10, 1995 - Image 21

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-11-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

N

from dozens of countries, Jewish leaders and ordinary
citizens who wanted to express their condolences.
Hours after the news broke about the assassination,
Jews and non- Jews gathered in front of the embassy
on International Drive in a spontaneous vigil that in-
cluded prayer, singing, and candle lighting.
On Monday, more than 1,000 visitors waited in long
lines at the embassy to sign a condolence book in Mr. Ra-
bin's memory.
Hundreds of diplomats came to pay their respects,
including many from Arab countries that still do not rec-
ognize Israel.

,

Of Rhetoric and Peace

Congressional reaction to the assassination was quick
and emotional, reflecting the respect many legislators felt
for Mr. Rabin's quest for peace.
Both House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and Sen-
ate Majority Leader Bob Dole (R-Kans.) accompanied
President Clinton on Air Force One on Sunday for the fu-
neral in Jerusalem.
"Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was a hero in a land of
heroes," Mr. Dole said in a statement. "He was a soldier
who died because he was a man of peace. His courage
and vision won the admiration of the world, and the world
will sorely miss him."
Despite the presence of the Republican leaders, some
GOP members who were unable to hitch a ride were pri-
vately complaining about the Democratic tilt of the of-
ficial guest list.
Rep. Alcee- Hastings (D-Fla.), who flew with the pres-
ident, said that he was "heartbroken by the assassina-
tion of this great man."
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) said that "we must not al-
low his work to have been in vain; I urge President Clin-
ton and all parties involved in the Mideast peace process
to continue to work together for peace."
Miles Lerman, chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memo-
rial Council, said that "no one is entitled to inflame ha-
tred by labeling their opponents with terms such as Nazi,'
`SS,' Gestapo' and the like," referring to the escalating
level of political rhetoric in Israel.
"I appeal to all parties to stop the invective; this mur-
derous venom has no place in Jewish life, no place in pub-
lic life. It desecrates the memory of the 6 million Jews
and their millions of fellow victims who were slaughtered
during the Holocaust. And it is an affront to those who
somehow managed to survive. "
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, president of the National Rain-
\ bow Coalition, compared Mr. Rabin to the Rev. Martin
Luther King Jr.
"Those who would dare to be peacemakers often bear
the brunt of the violence they seek to end," the Rev. Jack-
son said. "Peace is riskier than war, but also more re-
warding."

Unity... For Now

)

For Jewish staffers on Capitol Hill, the horror in Israel
produced a moment of nonpartisan unity.
"Suddenly, and maybe temporarily, politics doesn't
matter," said a top aide to a New York congressman. "The
Jewish staffers walk around looking at each other, and
there's a kind of sad recognition that we've suffered an
irreparable loss together. I feel like I should be in shul,
not at the office. It's very painful to be here right now, but
it also feels good that we are able to come together at a
time like this."
On Monday, Jewish staffers on the House side gath-
ered in the offices of Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) for a
Mincha service honoring Rabin.
"A lot of people in Washington are very broken, and
have to hear words of encouragement," said Rabbi Levi
Shemtov, director of the Washington office of American
Friends of Lubavitch, a group that had been critical of
Rabin's policies. Mr. Shemtov is the closest thing Capi-
tol Hill has to an official rabbi.
"This is not about a political issue; it's about a very

painful experience for Jews everywhere. Jews do not take
care of issues by resorting to violence; if there's an aber-
ration, it has to be reflected on. What we need now: uni-
ty.
That unity was also apparent at a Monday night memo-
rial service at a Washington synagogue. Participants in-
cluded Vice President Al Gore and Rabbi Stanley
Rabinowitz, rabbi emeritus of Adas Israel Congrega-
tion and Mr. Rabin's rabbi during his service as ambas-
sador to Washington from 1968 to 1973.
The vast crowd, which spilled out into the street, in-
cluded Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Justice Stephen
G. Breyer of the Supreme Court, Attorney General Janet
Reno, and scores of legislators, diplomats, administra-
tion officials and community leaders.

Collective Mourning

The announcement of Mr. Rabin's death during one of
Saturday's sessions of the biennial convention of the Unit-
ed Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, in downtown
Washington, produced gasps and tears.
The group conducted an all-night study session to
memorialize the fallen leader, and recited psalms in the

Opposite page:
Speaker of the House
Newt Gingrich and
Senate Majority Leader
Bob Dole attended the
funeral.

This page, right:
Mr. Rabin speaks
to the first Michigan
Miracle Mission in
a Ben Gurion airport
hanger in 1993.

lobby of the Grand
Hyatt Hotel.
Only hours be-
fore, the group had
unanimously
passed a resolution
strongly supporting
the peace process.

Peace Process
Anxiety

In the inner sanc-
turns of the admin-
istration, many foreign policy officials worried about the
impact of the killing on the delicate Middle East peace
process. But administration officials were sticking to a
White House directive to refrain from official speculation
about the effect of the slayings on the negotiations.
In the short term, members of the peace process team
were confident that acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres,
especially with the unity produced by Israelis' shock over
their first exposure to high-level political violence.
Mr. Peres is known and liked on Capitol Hill, although
he lacks the stature Mr. Rabin won in the past three years
because of his preeminent role in the peace process.
But in the long term, there were concerns about
whether Mr. Peres, who lacks Mr. Rabin's stature as a
tested military leader, will be able to effectively make the
case that territorial concessions will not hurt Israel's
security — the issue that will have the biggest impact on
a nervous and divided electorate as the 1996 elections ap-
proach.
Administration officials were waiting anxiously for
word on Mr. Peres' appointments to the critical defense
and foreign ministry Cabinet posts.
That, according to administration sources, means that
there is an even greater feeling of urgency about the need
to nail down the last phase of the Israeli-Palestinian peace
talks.



Cybergrief

ven as the first bulletins announced the mur-
der of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Tel Aviv
on Saturday, the Internet and other cyberspace
forums filled with grief and anger.
At first, Jewish Internet users expressed a kind of
disbelieving shock that Israeli democracy could be torn
apart by a Jewish assassin's bullet. After a few hours,
the shock turned to grief and rage against extremists
who have castigated Israeli officials for their pursuit
of the Middle East peace process.
"You helped bring about this great tragedy for the
Jewish people," wrote a Jewish Internetter living in
England. "You helped pull the trigger in Tel Aviv with
your violent words and thoughts."
But mostly, the Internet became a way for Jews to
reach out to other Jews in a moment of agony. Dina
Stander, a newcomer to an Internet discussion group
on Jewish topics, expressed the view of many.
"I came here tonight to look for fellow Jews, so I
would not feel so alone," she wrote in a public message.
"I heard the news, wept, lit a candle. The pursuit of
peace is such a fragile endeavor. My hope is shaken;
I am so glad to have found you all here."
Elan Goldmann wrote about how he tried
to explain his feelings to non-Jewish friends:
"My friend couldn't understand the fuss
about why one Jew wasn't supposed to kill
another Jew. 'People aren't supposed to
kill people,' he said, 'but it happens.' But
it's not the same. It would be more like if,
within my own family, we started turning
violent toward each other, and my broth-
er started accusing my father of selling out
the rest of the family, and then killed him
in cold blood. This is how it feels to know
that an apparently sane Israeli Jew killed
Rabin."
Itzhak Tzvi Shohat wrote: "I thought
this would never happen to us. How can
someone kill a founder of a land that we
hold so dearly? Is this what we have be-
come?"
An Internet "book of condolence" on the
World Wide Web allowed "visitors" to leave
comments. In the first 24 hours after the
assassination, hundreds did so — many
with poignant outpourings of emotion.
L7, Members of a band in Israel said that
"we can't find words to express our feelings.
W Today we lost a great leader of peace, a man
we all honored. Our music stops."
A Hungarian family send condolences to
the Rabin family, and reported on a memo-
' rial service in Budapest.
"Keep going with the peace process,"
wrote Maarten Korsten in the Netherlands. "I wish
the Israeli people courage and wisdom during these
difficult times."
Jagdeep Shiruru, a student from India, wrote: "It is
very unfortunate that he was gunned down by one of
his own countrymen. As an Indian, I can relate this to
the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi, who was shot
by a fellow Indian."
"I mourn the man, but also the loss of civil discourse
among Jews," wrote Mordechai Kamel, an American.
Winfried Keller, in Germany, wrote: "A great politi-
cian has gone. Inconceivable."
"All the Jews of France are horrified after what hap-
pened," wrote Emmanuel Vaniche.
Rachele Lynn Goldman at the University of 11/Lichi-
gan wrote to Leah Rabin and her family:
"Thank you for lending your husband, father, and
grandfather to the State. He was a great leader in our
time, and he will be missed by many of us."
"Like Moses, he led his people during times of great
struggle to a place of peace and prosperity," wrote
Paul Garry, an American. "Like Moses, he was not
allowed to be there for the final victory of peace and
humanity. The difference is that God decided that
Moses should not enter the Promised Land. For Mr.
Rabin the decision maker was a man. And therein
lies the tragedy." ❑

—James D. Besser

Rig

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