Twenty years ago, a great defender of Israel and champion of peace was struck down.
As we commemorate the yahrzeit of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, z”l, and look at how much Israelis and Palestinians continue to suffer from this conflict, we are resolved that we cannot accept another 20 years of violence, misery and despair. As American Jews and Israelis, passionate supporters of Israeli democracy, we must recommit to carrying out Rabin’s legacy and ensuring that his death was not in vain.
We grieve for Rabin as we grieve for victims of the latest terror attacks in Israel. We pray for healing for the injured and strength for all the families affected by this renewed violence. We worry about the safety of our friends and family in Israel — of Jews attacked while walking to work or school, living their daily lives.
We unequivocally condemn acts of terror against Israelis. There is no justification for this violence. We call on Palestinian leaders to take action to stop it and to reject any language that may encourage or incite it.
We also grieve the loss of life among Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Territories. We urge Israel’s authorities and the public to respect the rule of law and to reject acts of collective punishment and vigilantism against Palestinians, including suspected terrorists, their families and other civilians.
Ultimately, no degree of force can end this conflict. This is a political problem and requires a political solution. Prime Minister Rabin recognized that peace and security were inextricably linked – that the cycle of violence would continue until a just peace was reached. He pursued peace and compromise not out of weakness or charity, but out of his conviction that it was the only way to guarantee the safety, vitality and future of his nation.
Rabin was killed by an Israeli Jew who wished to prevent peace, spurred on by leaders using rhetoric that demonized Palestinians and portrayed Rabin as a traitor – ironically echoing Palestinian extremists who reject any accommodation with Israel. Today, many of these extremists have found their way into leadership on both sides. We hear them louder than ever: demanding retaliation and repression, insisting on the futility of pursuing peace, spurning hope while elevating fear and hatred.
If these voices triumph, we face another 20 years of loss, violence and quagmire. We must stand up and challenge them by offering a path of responsibility, honesty, practicality and hope. Neither outrage nor despondency will end this cycle or create a better future. Only determined action seeking a permanent peace settlement will break this deadly cycle and provide Israelis and Palestinians with hope for the security, freedom and dignity they so deeply desire and deserve.
We have no illusions that this will be easy. We must do it precisely because it is so hard and so important for the future of Israel and the Jewish people. As a Jewish sage once taught, “You are not obliged to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”
Let us pick up Rabin’s torch and strive to complete his work.