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Itzhak Rabin was shot on November 4, 1995. I have heard the phrase Where were you when Kennedy was shot? many times, often in relationship to psychological phenomena. People remember certain instances of their lives very vividly, mostly due to an intense experience. It is interesting to view such an experience, especially one that affected an entire country. I doubt many Americans who were alive in November, 1963 have forgotten what they were doing when the radio announced that Kennedy was shot. I doubt many Israelis have forgotten what they were doing 32 years later.

The date of Rabin's murder rapidly approaches, and this brings back memories, as every year, of the occurences of that night. I was serving in the artillery in the IDF. That November I was in a course in the army. It was a Saturday night, and we were staying that weekend at the base, mostly for guard duty. That night was supposed to be exceptionally annoying, with guard duty at night, meaning little and non-consecutive sleep, plus a whole week of training ahead of us starting the next day (the week starts on a Sunday in Israel).

We went to sleep and were awakened not long afterwards by our commander. After we stood in threes, he told us that Rabin had been shot. We went back to our tents, and there was a lot of talking, although some people tried to go back to sleep. About an hour later we were called back out, and told that Rabin had died from his wounds.

A radio was turned on, and most people talked. I personally didn't. I didn't have much to say. But our guard duties didn't change, and for many, those few hours were the only hours they would get to sleep that night. One such person, who was in a bed at the corner of the tent was trying to sleep through the noise. The most vivid memory I have of that night is this:

He said, "Couldn't he have gotten murdered another night?"

I will never forget that. I will never forgive it either.

I was on the bus going to Beit Shean - a nowhere and a nothing kind of place, a straight, mind numbing road through dark, flat country. Lulled, almost hypnotised by the bus's movement and hum of the engine, it took me a few moments to realise that someone was standing up in the middle of the bus, shouting, a few more moments to make out what they were shouting about.

Rabin had been shot, Rabin had been shot. I was meant to have been at that rally. I only didn't go because I had to be at work in Beit Shefuckingan at 6:30 the following morning. I had been so happy - the peace process was in full swing, all of the countrie's leaders were standing shoulder to shoulder in the square singing songs for peace, my supervisor at work and half my coworkers were Arab, we were all so happy. Optimistic. Proud.

I didn't begin to think straight until I got to my temporary pad in B-S and turned the TV on. Even then, I was mostly in shock, sitting all curled up in front of the TV, alone in the dark, chain smoking. Maybe I wouldn't have been so hysterical if I'd had someone to talk to, but everyone was asleep - and none of them were Israeli, anyway. They couldn't possibly have understood.

I sat numbly through the reports, the speculation, the reconstructions. Only when they finally said, yes, that's it, he's really dead, did I begin to feel anything but blind panic. Well, it was even more blind panic, actually. I knew with unrelenting certainty that there was going to be a war. That the peace process is doomed. That with our national innocence was lost our only ever chance of coexistence.

It wasn't until last September that I was proven to have been right all along.

This is Itzhak Rabin's last speech, delivered on November 4th, 1995 at the peace rally in Tel-Aviv moments before he was assassinated:

Let me tell you that I'm moved to be here. I would like to thank each of you, that came here to stand against violence and for peace. This government, which I have the honor of leading, together with my friend Shimon Peres, has decided to give a chance to peace, a peace that will solve most of the problems of the state of Israel. I was a soldier for 72 years. I fought when peace was not possible. I believe now peace is possible, this is a great opportunity and it must be pursued for the sake of those who stand here, and those who don't stand here, and they are many.

I always believed most of the Israeli people want peace, and are ready to take a risk for peace. And you, by standing here tonight, prove together with many others who are not here, that the people do want peace and reject violence. Violence undermines the basis of the Israeli democracy. It must be condemned, rebuked, isolated. This is not the way of the state of Israel. There is a democracy, there might be disagreement, but decisions will be made in democratic elections, as there were in 1929 and gave us the mandate to do what we do and continue doing it.

I would like to say, that I'm proud to have here representatives from the countries with which we live in peace: Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, which opened the way to peace. I would like to thank the president of Egypt, the King of Jordan and the King of Morroco for being represented here and for expressing their partnership with us on the march for peace, but above all - the Israeli people, in more than 3 years of this current government, has proved that peace can be achieved; that peace leads to an advanced economy and society; that peace is not just in the prayers. Peace begins in the prayers, but it is the ambition of the Jewish people - a true ambition for peace.

There are enemies to the peace, which try to hurt us with the purpose of destroying peace. I would like to say, clearly: we have found a partner for peace also among the palestinians - the PLO, which was an enemy and has stopped the terror. Without partners for peace there is no peace. We will demand that it do its share in the peace, as we will do our share in the peace, to solve the most complex and emotional element in the Arab-Israeli conflict: the Palestinian-Israeli.

It involves difficulties, and pain. There is no way for Israel without pain. The way of peace is better than the way of war. I'm telling you this as someone who was a soldier and minister of defense, and sees the pain of the families of the fallen soldiers. For them, for our children - and our grandchildren, in my case - I would like this government to pursue every opportunity to advance and reach comprehensive peace. There will also be a possiblity of achieving peace with Syria. This rally must tell the Israeli people, the Jewish people around the world, many people in the Arab world and in other countries, that the Israeli people wants peace and supports peace - and for this I thank you deeply.

Freely Translated from the Hebrew. Source: www.haaretz.co.il

Itzhak Rabin was shot as a huge rally of his supporters was closing down. I participated in that rally, and was walking home, listening to the radio coverage of the rally when they announced shots were heard in the Malkey Israel square (later renamed Rabin Square), where the rally was taking place.

There was a great feeling of euphoria in that rally. I remember the people walking home, singing in the streets, laughing. I went running back towards the square, and people were looking at me, wondering why I was so worried. I saw a car driving madly along the street, which later I learned was the car carrying the wounded Rabin to the nearby hospital.

By the time I got to the square, they already got hold of the shooter, Yigal Amir, and there was a lot of confusion. The Hebrew pop song that was playing over the PA when I left was still playing, "My Country Is A Beautiful Tropic One", how ironic.

It was then that I realized that my country is insane.

I was dead asleep.

I've got myself a fairly liberal pair of parents. They were not at the peace rally, but they were watching on the box. And on November the 5th, fairly early in the morning, my fairly liberal dad wakes me up and tells me Rabin was murdered.

I cognized the decree with fair acceptance. There goes the peace process, I reasoned. The world is manifested by scum, I noted. I was always fairly sad, a serious little 5th grader, and I was excited strictly by the serious stuff. I would prance around the television in my room when they announced another progress, burned with rage when the box spoke of delay and violence, asking all sorts of how's and why's as I went along. Essentially I was a sad little kid. The box was a box but it could evoke a lot of excitement none the less, because the peace process was fairly important and I therefore felt that it must be real. But then on the 5th grade, on November 5, I noted. Teenagers were spraying burning red question marks all over Rabin square, and I sympathized with a nod.

And then life did what it tends to do and went on, to 1996, exactly 364 days later that I remember fairly vividly, when all the other kids on the playground put the playground to its correct use, and when a teacher asked me why I wasn't, I told her it was the memorial day for Rabin, and she nodded and pretended to be serious too for a few fair moments. And life moved on.

I moved out of the box and out of my little room, and met all sorts of warmongers who were fairly real, and some 'pacifists' on a teenage rebellion, who were real too until they snapped out of it. They were all fairly real, though politics, I noted, weren't. I was a realistic little teenager, and all my real leaders and peacemakers were fairly dead.

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