Where I was the night Rabin was assassinated
That Saturday night, I was preparing to leave for a work trip to the USA. I honored a long cherished promise to my two boys and took them to eat their first Big Mac, as the Kosher franchise in Mevasseret had opened to much fanfare. We came home, I tipped them into bed – happy fellows.
Amidst the half-packed suitcase my wife and I started to watch the movie Crocodile Dundee, for some brain-free entertainment. And then the ticker-tape rolled across the screen declaring a breaking news flash. The next few hours were a blur. The intense gathering of minute details of what had happened mixed with periods of shock so deep that I was sinking into a void, interrupted by calls from overseas from family, friends and the British media wanting instant comment and mature reflection. How plausible is that?
I delayed my departure to be in Israel for the funeral.
On the flight out – El Al cancelled the music and the movies out of respect. They provided newspapers in abundance for the passengers to read. And as these were opened, the descriptions of the funeral, the mourners, those paying condolence calls out of respect for Rabin z”l, and the initial commentary… I heard sobbing throughout the airplane. Passenger after passenger unleashed their tears of pain, sorrow and unfulfilled hopes.
I arrived in the US to attend the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations. The opening session was a gala celebration of some significant organizational anniversary and the moment was marked by a musical pageant of the Jewish story in the US.
Of Rabin? Nothing.
I was seated near to a few Israelis and we were shuffling uncomfortably. For me it was an almost physiological reaction.
After what seemed like an age, the musical was interrupted and Elie Wiesel was brought on to the stage to make some moving remarks about what had transpired in Israel and about Rabin, the man. He spoke well.
And then the cheerful celebratory musical started up again…
I left the hall – distraught.
I grew up in the long shadow of the Shoah. The specter of anti-Semitism was so pronounced, even if infrequently studied. A sacred lesson for me from that time was this: A Jew, any Jew, must feel as though in a time of trouble they can find a door with a mezuzah, knock on that door and gain access and shelter and comfort with few questions asked.
Yigal Amir turned that lesson into shattered shards. Now you might not be able to get safe passage from a Jew, because of your opinions, beliefs, values, outlooks.
It is anti-Zionist in its deepest sense because the Zionist project is at root a profound sense of care for all Jews whoever they may be.