Rabin and Kahane
Rabin and Kahane

Israel and Jews everywhere observed the yahrzeits of two unique personalities over the last few days that had at least two things about them that were similar. They were idealists, who saw the future of Israel from extreme polar opposite perspectives. And both were murdered by people bent on stopping them as their visions gained popular momentum in their respective directions.

Yitzchak Rabin was Prime Minister of Israel when he was killed two decades ago. Rabin was a general concerned about the security of Israel. At the same time, he and those around him felt that there was an obligation to deal with the large Arab population living in Israel’s midst.

All these years later, it is still debatable whether Rabin understood that the Palestinian pantomime about being a partner for the Jews was really anything more than a charade.

Even more interesting today, more than two decades later, the left in Israel still celebrates Rabin and his entrance into the Oslo Accords with arch terrorist Yasser Arafat even though the effort has proven a failure. In the aftermath of Rabin’s death, the imaginary impression exists that if somehow Rabin would have lived, there would have been peace long ago between Jews and Palestinians and everything would be blissful in the Middle East as a result.

That false notion is played into by high profile leaders like President Obama and former President Bill Clinton who was in Israel last week to speak at a memorial service for Rabin in Tel Aviv. Both spoke about Rabin’s vision of peace and what could have been if only fate would have allowed it to happen.

Kahane was murdered because he was the one person who called the Arab threat to Israel precisely what it was.
It is tragic and unfortunate that Rabin was murdered on a Saturday night two decades ago as he finished a speech about what he hoped was a burgeoning and successful peace process. The peace was not stalled or terminated because of his assassination. As we can clearly see in hindsight today, there was never any intent on the part of Palestinian leadership to conclude or implement any peace deal with Israel. The left in Israel lives and exists on denial of this fact all these years later.

Rabbi Meir Kahane was murdered five years prior to Rabin. Kahane was killed in New York on November 5, 1990. The New York born founder of the notorious and innovative Jewish Defense League was a man with a different vision. He did not see Israel’s future through rose colored lenses. Not only did he envision today’s events as they exist on the streets of Israel, he foretold them in his books and speeches.

Kahane was murdered by an Arab resident of New Jersey—El Sayid Nossar. He was shot and killed as he spoke to a small group of supporters at the East Side Marriot Hotel in New York City. Kahane was murdered because he was the one person who called the Arab threat to Israel precisely what it was. He insisted throughout his life, including the one term that he served in the Knesset, that the Arab population had to be convinced or persuaded to leave Israel.

Meir Kahane understood that the Arabs within Israel were an avowed enemy of the Jews both inside and outside of the Jewish state. And as we see now, all these years later, the Jewish population is willing to make adjustments to allow the Arabs to live freely amongst them. It is the racist Arabs and their leadership that refuse. For telling it like it is, Meir Kahane was the one branded a racist and run out of the Knesset. His Kach Party was outlawed and he was not permitted to run for reelection.

Despite the adversity and the lack of popularity in his articulated positions, he remained undaunted and determined to move forward. This past summer, I had the opportunity in Israel to meet with Rabbi Kahane’s brother—Rabbi Nachman Kahane. He told me in our meeting in Jerusalem that Meir was convinced that he would be killed but he articulated his concern to his brother that he was hoping that the murderer would not be another Jew. And unlike the Rabin case, it was not a Jew.

I have a photograph of Yitzchak Rabin in my office. Not that he was a hero of mine but he was a Prime Minister of Israel, a former general, and an Ambassador to the United States. His murder by Yigal Amir was in addition to a tragedy also a tragic mistake. Had Rabin lived, he would have seen that the people in the Palestinian camp that he was alleged to have negotiated peace with were perpetrating a colossal diplomatic fraud.

Arafat’s terror campaigns killed a lot of people but never advanced his cause in anyway. And no, his cause was not the creation of a Palestinian State. His objective then as is his successor’s—Mohammad Abbas—was and is to destroy the state of Israel.

I picked up the photograph about ten years ago at a store on King George Street in Jerusalem. It is a famous photo. It shows three generals of the IDF striding into the Old City of Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967 at the time when the Old City was liberated from Jordanian occupation.

The three generals walking side by side into the city were, Rabin, Uzi Narkiss, and Moshe Dayan. I’m looking up at that poster size photo as I write these words. Rabin is on the right, Dayan is in the center. They just led the IDF to the capture or liberation of Jerusalem. A commander who later became a Knesset member and a cabinet minister—Motta Gur—led the battle for the capture of the Temple Mount. He radioed back to his headquarters the simple words in Hebrews—“Har HaBayit B’Yodenu”—the Temple Mount is in our hands.

Following that watershed and historical moment, there were a lot of mistakes that we continue paying a price for today. The biggest error was the magnanimity of Moshe Dayan in insisting that he return control of Har HaBayit to the Moslem Wakf. How Israel was to manage the area with all its complicated halachic implications is a discussion for another day. Dayan handed it easily over to the Wakf because he was a wholly secular individual who could not perceive any value for the site to the Jewish nation.

Years later, with more of the details of the Oslo accords either falling into—or more aptly out of place—a decision needed to be made about what to do with Kever Rachel (Rachel's Tomb) in Bethlehem. Bethlehem was essentially an Arab city with Jews only going there to pray at the Kever. The Moslems in their eminent corrupt way of distorting history consider KeverRachel to be a mosque or a sheikh's burial place.

Rabin could not understand at the time what all the fuss was about. After all, there was finally going to be peace. It has been related that the Prime Minister mused what is the big deal about this burial place of some ancient biblical figure who lived thousands of years ago, a site that is only dirt and stone. The Chief Rabbis had to get involved at the time to implore Rabin to hold on to and protect Kever Rachel.

The picture on the wall in my office portrays Rabin with that stoic non-emotional look he was famous for. To me, he always looked disinterested, annoyed, and bothered by whatever it was. The Jerusalem Post in a retrospective last week reported that Rabin was ready to abrogate the Oslo Accords when it became clear that the Palestinians had no intention of fulfilling their part of the agreement. The liberals who had control of him like Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin convinced him not to.

The peace effort did not end with Rabin’s death and it is a shear demonstration of intellectual dishonesty to believe that if only he had lived we would have had peace a long time ago. Had he lived, the fraudulent nature of that agreement would have been clearer sooner.

And what about Meir Kahane? What if he would have lived instead of having a New Jersey based Arab terrorist murder him in cold blood? If Kahane had lived and if his Kach Party was not outlawed for being racist, he might have become the second or third largest party in the Knesset. But that is one of the reasons that he was prohibited from running. It was not just the Arabs that were afraid of Meir Kahane, it was the Jews too.

Rav Nachman Kahane in his writing made an interesting observation last week. He said that Rabin was murdered the week of Parashat Lech Lecha. That was the Torah portion in which Abraham expresses the hope that his son Iishmael would inherit him and that future generation would emanate from him. In a sense, Abraham represented the idea of accepting the Arabs, who are Ishmael's descendants, into or at least alongside the Jewish nation—just like Rabin.

On the other side of the equation, Meir Kahane was killed the week of Parashat Vayeira. This is the portion in which Sarah insists that Ishmael be expelled from their home because it was not he but Isaac who would be the father of Am Yisrael. And Hashem told the conflicted Abraham to listen to Sarah his wife. And that is what Kahane was wont to say and it indeed became one of his popular slogans, “They Must Go.”

More than two decades later did we learn any lessons from our history? It doesn’t look like it. We keep making the same mistakes. We didn’t listen then and we are not listening now.