…and lest we forget November 4, 2005Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Today marks the tenth anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s murder. I was in Paris at the time and remember clearly watching, gripped, his funeral, with all those dignitaries from around the world. Arafat and King Hussein both spoke. Clinton was present. And the personal touch was added by Rabin’s own granddaughter. The murder came at a time of great hope, of course, and commentators today are saying the peace process is yet to get back to the dizzy heights it was at then. In this sense, Yigal Amir achieved his goal.
I worked the evening of the funeral, the day’s events still, obviously, fresh in my memory. I discussed it as soon as I got into work. My colleagues that day were an English lady and two Lebanese gentlemen. The latter thought my colleague and I were faking our interest, and certainly our sympathy. They were dumbstruck and bemused that we could care an Israeli politician had been assassinated. Not in an aggressive way. More contemptuous of what they thought were our overly PC views. (One of the two gentlemen in question once asked me with furrowed brow if the English names he’d given his children sounded Jewish. They didn’t, but I babyishly enjoyed telling him they did. Very much so. As Jewish as Rifka and Yitzhak, in fact. His brow burrowed further. I don’t know if he has since renamed them.) And these were Maronites who had approved of Israel’s intervention in Lebanon’s affairs earlier. Yet the political and personal were perhaps very separate, and the situation in the Middle East was different in 1995 from the point at which they had been glad of intervention from the south.
Good neighbourliness in that part of the world must eventually come if there is ever to be peace, even a bad peace. It would be naive to expect too much, and levels of mixing described in the piece linked to above are perhaps now unrealistic. From the same piece, the former mayor of Jerusalem, Teddy Kollek, once said, “We can’t expect the Palestinians to like us, but we have to do what we can.” Some of this pragmatism from Israel’s neighbours would be more than welcome.