Yitzhak Rabin

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Yitzhak Rabin
Signature of Yitzchak Rabin

Yitzchak Rabin ( Hebrew יצחק רבין, born on March 1, 1922 in Jerusalem ; assassinated on November 4, 1995 in Tel Aviv ) was Minister of Defense and Prime Minister of Israel . For years, Rabin was one of the most important decision-makers in foreign and security policy issues for the State of Israel. He held the office of Prime Minister twice, for the first time from 1974 to 1977 and again from 1992 until his assassination in 1995.

Rabin was one of the architects of the Middle East peace process . In 1994 he received the Nobel Peace Prize together with his then Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and the then head of the Palestinian Authority , Yasser Arafat .

Family and early years

Yitzchak Rabin (ca.1948)

Yitzchak's father, Nehemia Rabin (originally: Rabitschow), born in Ukraine ( Sidorowitschi ) in 1886 , emigrated to the USA in 1905 . During World War I he was used as a volunteer in the British Army's Jewish Legion in Egypt and Palestine . When Arab uprisings broke out, he went to Jerusalem, where he met his future wife Rosa Cohen (born 1890). The couple married in 1921. In addition to Jitzchak, they had a daughter, Rachel, in 1927. Yitzchak Rabin's mother of Russian descent was known as Rote Rosa . She was the first leader of the Hagana in Haifa , was even above Golda Meïr in the hierarchy and stood up for women's rights. She died when Yitzchak was 15 years old. Both of Rabin's parents were active in the Achdut haAwoda and did not run a religious household.

Rabin attended the first Bet Hinuch leJaldei Owdim ( school for workers' children ) in Tel Aviv from the autumn of 1928 , which he graduated in 1935. Then he went to the Giwat HaSchloscha school (renamed the Rosa Cohen School in 1937) in the area of ​​Tel Aviv and from October 1937 in the two years before his Abitur at the well-known Kadoori Agricultural School . After initial difficulties, Rabin finished school as the best student in his class on August 20, 1940. Between summer 1938 and autumn 1939 he interrupted his school career because of his involvement in the Hagana.

From 1948 until his death he was married to Leah Rabin (née Schlossberg ), who was born in Königsberg . The couple had two children: Dalia (born in March 1950) and Juwal (born in 1955).

Military career

Report on Rabin from the Israeli News Company

Rabin had received his first pre-military instruction in 1935 when he went to school in Giwat HaSchloscha. In Kadoorie, Jigal Allon was responsible for military training. In 1941 he was recruited in Kibbutz Ramat Jochanan for the newly founded Palmach , an elite unit of the Hagana , one of the Zionist underground organizations at the time, which became part of the Israeli armed forces (Tzahal) after 1948 . In 1941, as a member of the British Army , he took part in the Syrian-Lebanese campaign . In 1945 he became deputy commander of the Palmach units that fought against the British Mandate troops . Here he was involved in the liberation of Holocaust survivors who were interned by the British in camps on Cyprus, among other places. Leah Rabin describes the implications of the British White Paper of 1939 in her book I Go On My Path :

“Nothing divided the British and the Palestinian Jews more than British immigration policy. In 1945, the British practically closed the gates of Palestine to more Jewish immigrants. Despite the horrors of World War II, only 71,000 Jews were allowed to immigrate to Palestine during the British mandate. They also made the unbelievable decision not to accept any Holocaust refugees. They set up reception camps in Cyprus to which they deported Jewish refugees who they had intercepted while trying to go ashore in Palestine. "

Ari Ben Canaan , the main character from Leon Uris ' Exodus , is based at least in part on Yitzchak Rabin. Because of these activities, he was arrested by British forces in July 1946 and sentenced to six months in prison. After his release he was appointed commander of the 2nd battalion of the Palmach and in October 1947 the chief of staff of the Palmach.

During the Israeli War of Independence in 1948 he commanded the Harel Brigade in the fighting for Jerusalem and fought against the Egyptians in the Negev as deputy to Jigal Allons , who was chief of the southern section of the front. The Harel Brigade is accused of having driven around 50,000 Palestinians from the cities of Lod and Ramla in 1948 under the leadership of Rabin . In 1949 he acted as a delegate of the Israeli ceasefire delegation at Rhodes the 1949 armistice agreements with Egypt with out.

After the war, Rabin's Palmach unit was disbanded by Ben Gurion and Rabin was accepted into the army of Israel as one of the few officers . He then attended a course by Chaim Laskow for battalion commanders. After a brief interlude as the leader of this course, Jigael Jadin promoted him to the General Staff. Here he was chief of the operations department of the Army of Israel. In 1952 he went to England with his family to attend the Staff College of the British Army in Camberley . The one-year course took place in 1953/54.

Rabin as an Officer in North Israel (1957)

From 1953 to 1956 Rabin, meanwhile major general, took over the management of the training of the Israeli army. His first assignment in the new post was to set up a general staff academy for the Israeli army; then he became the commander of the troops on the Syrian border of Israel. He was therefore hardly involved in the Sinai campaign of 1956. On January 24, 1961, he became Deputy Chief of Staff and on January 1, 1964, succeeding Tzvi Tzur as Chief of General Staff ( Hebrew רמטכ"ל, read: Ramatkal) appointed by the Tzahal . Under his command, the Tzahal won an all-out victory over Egypt , Syria and Jordan in the Six Day War . After the old city of Jerusalem was conquered by the Tzahal, Rabin was one of the first to visit the old city. A picture that became famous all over the world shows him walking through the Lion Gate together with the then Defense Minister Moshe Dajan and the IDF General Uzi Narkis .

After the war, Rabin gave a famous speech at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on Mount Scopus after he had been awarded an honorary doctorate in philosophy by the university . He accepted the award on behalf of the whole army, which - he said in the acceptance speech - differs from all other armies in the world not only in its spiritual greatness, the mourning for the victims of the enemy. It had a special status in other areas in the world and it was not for nothing that it received the Israel Prize for Education in 1966 .

“Thirty years later, our dear friend Norman Bernstein remarked : 'Yitzchak, who looked so modest and at times even seemed passive, was able to develop a dramatic intensity in some of his speeches that was almost like that of a laser.' This was definitely one of those moments. Yitzchak's acceptance speech was broadcast on the radio and moved the whole nation. "

- Leah Rabin

Leah Rabin quotes in her book an excerpt from that speech, the last sentence of which reads:

“Our fighters won not because of their weapons, but because of their sense of mission, their conviction of the rightness of their cause, their deep love for their homeland and the insight into the difficult task that was entrusted to them, namely the existence of our people in their homeland and to defend the right of the Jewish people to live in their own state - free, independent and in peace, even at the cost of their own lives. "

Command company Atlit

“In October 1945, Yitzchak took part in an extremely risky military action to defend the rights of these immigrants. It was a commando operation in Atlit , a small town on the Mediterranean south of Haifa. Two hundred immigrants were interned there in a camp - according to the British view they were 'illegal'. The British planned their deportation soon. A contingent of around 250 Palmach fighters was supposed to free the refugees and then transport them to a nearby kibbutz; from there they should then be funneled underground. […] The operation meant a lot to Yitzchak because these people survived the Holocaust only to be interned again - this time by the British authorities. The rescue operation should begin in the dark. Shop stewards in the camp had cut open the barbed wire fence and broken the firing pins of the Arab auxiliaries, so that the weapons clicked harmlessly when the Palmach rebels appeared. The first difficulty was to get the survivors into the waiting escape vehicles as quickly as possible. 'The immigrants did not want to part with their bundles at any cost,' Yitzchak later told me, 'because these were the only belongings they had left'. Then the group had to be led over Mount Carmel , with the Palmach fighters carrying many of them, namely the children, piggyback over the mountain…. As the British prepared to search the kibbutz, which was designated as a stopover, thousands of Jews from Haifa flocked to erect human barricades and mingle with the Holocaust survivors so that the British were unable to evacuate the liberated refugees weed out of the crowd. The operation was a resounding success because the British finally gave up in frustration. "

- Leah Rabin

Political career

In December 1967 Rabin gave up his post as chief of staff to his successor Chaim Bar-Lev and devoted himself to politics and diplomacy. He was sent as ambassador to the United States in February 1968 , where he represented Israel's interests until 1973. Although he had to be considered very inexperienced and neither spoke good English nor was a good company, his work in the USA is considered very successful. Rabin recognized the potential of good relations with the USA and foresaw as early as 1967 that France would no longer support Israel in the future, which is why it became increasingly necessary to look out for other allies. As an ambassador, Rabin had particularly close contact with Prime Minister Golda Meïr , whom he advised on security issues. Foreign Minister Abba Eban was sometimes ignored.

Head of Government 1974–1977

Yitzchak Rabin is interviewed by the Spiegel (1974)

In 1973 Rabin was elected to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset , as a member of the Labor Party , and served as Minister of Labor under Meïr. On June 3, 1974, he replaced her at the head of government. He had previously prevailed against Shimon Peres in an internal party election in April . Years of competition developed between the two leading politicians of the Labor Party. In 1975 Rabin signed an interim agreement with Egypt. During his tenure, the liberation took the hostages one by Palestinians hijacked Air France - aircraft in Entebbe in Uganda instead, as Operation Entebbe was known.

After two major crises, Rabin had to give up his office: On the one hand, the arrival of four F-15 jets on a Shabbat led to the collapse of his coalition government, and on the other hand, shortly before the parliamentary elections, his wife's illegal dollar fortune was discovered. Rabin took over the political responsibility for this, resigned from the party chairmanship and refrained from wanting to continue to lead the government. The Knesset election on May 17, 1977 brought its party alliance heavy losses and a decline from 51 to 32 seats. The Likud politician Menachem Begin finally replaced Rabin as prime minister. This ended the decades-long dominance of the Labor Party, for which Rabin was held responsible.

He later confessed that he was too inexperienced in domestic affairs during his first term in office. He was also seen as shy and sometimes introverted. There were also general weaknesses in Rabin's public appearance, often impatient (even with his own party), he was tactless and rude, which is why some saw him as a bad politician.

Defense Minister 1984–1990

After Begin's reign and Yitzchak Shamir's brief term until 1984, Shimon Peres became Prime Minister of Israel and Yitzchak Rabin came to his cabinet as Minister of Defense in the unity government. As documented several times on television , he used controversial and even brutal methods to end the First Intifada , and in 1988 he was quoted as saying: "We should break their hands and legs" (referring to the Palestinian stone throwers), which he said in earned the title of “Bone Breaker” in the Arab world. At the same time he was responsible for the withdrawal of the Israeli army from southern Lebanon . Even after Peres was replaced by Shamir in 1986, Rabin remained Minister of Defense until 1990. After the deaths of Dajan and Allon, he was considered to be the undisputed authority of Israel in matters of defense policy. In May 1989 the Israeli cabinet accepted its plan to work with the Palestinians.

Second term and role in the peace process

From 1990 onwards, Rabin became one of the most important advocates of a progressive peace process between Israel, the Palestinians and the state's Arab neighbors. He warned of a freeze in the peace process in Shimon Peres' second term and announced his candidacy as chairman of the Israeli Labor Party against Peres in 1990 . The Labor Party emerged from this election as an all-out winner for the first time in two decades, and Rabin was again Prime Minister of Israel in 1992. He made his predecessor Shimon Peres foreign minister and kept the defense ministry himself.

In his second term from 1993 onwards, Rabin played a key role in peace talks with the Palestinians and the Arab countries. In 1991 there were peace talks in Madrid , according to which Israel should negotiate separately with representatives of its neighbors. However, the PLO was not invited to the negotiations. In 1992, Rabin Syria announced a withdrawal of troops from the Golan Heights, at the same time the dispute with the Palestinians and the PLO intensified and there were increasing acts of terror that were intended to undermine the Israeli government's peace talks. On December 17, 1992, Rabin arranged for the arrest and illegal deportation of 415 Hamas supporters to southern Lebanon in revenge for the murder of the previously kidnapped border police officer Nissim Toledano by Hamas. This gave rise to UN Security Council Resolution 799.

Yitzchak Rabin, Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat in front of the White House in Washington, DC on September 13, 1993 in the course of the Oslo Peace Process

In the summer of 1993 there were first direct talks between representatives of the PLO and the Israeli government. The talks resulted in a success in the Oslo Agreement , which provided for the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the West Bank and Gaza Strip and Palestinian self-government in these areas while the Palestinians renounced violence. After a transition period, a permanent status of the areas should be negotiated. The contracts were signed by the parties on September 9th and 10th. On May 4, 1994, there was another treaty settlement in Washington DC , in which the PLO was granted limited autonomy for the first time for the Gaza Strip and the Jericho area. For his participation in this process, Rabin received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994, together with Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres.

As a result of the agreement that was finally confirmed in Cairo in 1994, Israeli troops were withdrawn from the autonomous regions. The PLO was allowed to form a police force of 9,000 men to carry out its administrative and control tasks, and around 8,500 Palestinian prisoners were released.

On September 28, 1995, Yitzchak Rabin, Yasser Arafat, King Hussein , President Mubarak and Bill Clinton met again to sign the second Oslo Accords, which extended Palestinian autonomy to the greater part of the Arab population in the West Bank. The ceremony on the occasion of "Oslo-B" took place in the White House in Washington. The foreign ministers of all the countries that helped to get this agreement off the ground, including Norway, were present.

An excerpt from Rabin's speech shows how much hope that agreement was linked to at the time:

“Now, after a long series of official, solemn statements, take a look at this podium. The King of Jordan, the President of Egypt, Chairman Arafat and we, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister of Israel, on a platform. Let this sight sink in deeply. What you see here in front of you was impossible two or three years ago, yes, fantastic. Only poets have dreamed of it, and to our great pain, soldiers and civilians died to make this moment possible. Here we stand before you, men who have been sent by fate and history on a mission for peace: to end a hundred years of bloodshed forever.

Our dream is your dream too. King Hussein, President Mubarak, Chairman Arafat, all the others, and most of all President Bill Clinton - a president who works in the service of peace - we all love the same children, weep the same tears, hate the same enmity and pray for reconciliation. Peace has no limits. "

In addition, Rabin also implemented important reforms in domestic politics, e. B. Homosexual equality in the Israeli army .

Rabin's government was increasingly battered. He only headed a minority government, which in the Knesset was dependent on the votes of the communists and the nationalist Arab Knesset members. According to critics, Rabin gambled away the chance to make the Labor Party the leading force again and lost power through this shift to the left. The implementation of the policy of the “doves” around Shimon Peres in the Oslo peace process led to an increasing radicalization of the political discussion in Israel, where the non-integration of center-right positions is often seen as a mistake by Rabin.

The Hostilities of Rabin - Memories of Leah Rabin

In her biography, wife Leah Rabin reports on hostilities that she and her husband had to go through:

",There she is!' they roared as I turned into the garage entrance under our apartment building. I was all alone in the car, no security guard with me. 'After the next election you will hang out with your husband in the marketplace. With your feet up. Like Mussolini and his mistress, 'shouted someone from the crowd. ... Some of the demonstrators in front of our apartment building even compared us to Nicolae and Elena Ceaușescu , perhaps the most vilified despots of modern times ... Jitzchak and I got these vilifications, these comparisons with fascist monsters, the more the peace process gained momentum. At a demonstration in Jerusalem a month earlier, Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech in Zion Square while someone near him was panning a picture of Yitzchak in Nazi uniform in front of a running television camera. On this Friday, November 3, 1995, the demonstrators on the other side of the street chanted their defamations until Yitzchak came home around six o'clock in the evening. ... Months earlier, the first posters had appeared in public that branded Yitzchak as a traitor and a murderer. They hung on every street corner, on wire poles, posts and lamp posts. Photo montages showed Yitzchak with the kufiyah , the Arab headscarf. Once when I was driving my car out of Jerusalem without Yitzhak, I asked the driver to stop at an intersection. We got out and tore down these terrible posters depicting Yitzchak as a traitor to Israel. "


The site of Rabin's murder, 2006

Rabin attended a major peace rally on the evening of November 4, 1995 in the Square of the Kings of Israel ( Hebrew כיכר מלכי ישראל) in Tel Aviv. The square now bears his name ( Hebrew כיכר רביןKikar Rabin). The motto of the event was "Yes to peace, no to violence". Jigal Amir , an Israeli law student of far-right, religiously fanatical convictions, timed the moment when the Prime Minister left the stage and was escorted to his car and shot him. Rabin died shortly afterwards in Ichilov Hospital.

Shortly before the fatal shots, Rabin had given a moving speech:

אני רוצה להודות לכל אחד ואחד מכם שהגיע לכאן היום כדי להפגין למען שלום ונגד אלימות. הממשלה הזו, שחלקה עם חברי שמעון הפרס, זכה יושבים ראש, החליטה לתת הזדמנות לשלום - שלום שיפתור את מרבית בעיות מדינת. [...] דרך שלום עדיף על המסלול של מלחמה. אני אומר לך את זה כמי שהיה 27 שנים של איש צבא.


Yitzchak Rabin

“I would like to thank each and every one of you who came here today to demonstrate for peace and against violence. This government, which I have the privilege to chair with my friend Shimon Peres, has chosen to give peace a chance - a peace that will solve most of Israel's problems. [...] The way of peace is preferable to the way of war. I tell you this as someone who has been a military man for 27 years. "

Investigations, commemoration and reception

The tomb of Yitzchak (black stone) and Leah Rabin (white stone)

The murder was investigated by the Shamgar Commission , named after its head Meir Shamgar , the former President of the Supreme Court . 24 hours after Amir's first verdict on March 27, 1996, the Shamgar Commission published its 250-page investigation report into Rabin's murder. Of these, 117 pages are confidential . In November 1997 the Israeli government published supplementary information from the secret part of the report of the commission of inquiry in a six-page paper. The full text of the report has not yet been published, despite Meir Shamgar saying two years after the murder that the government is now allowed to publish the confidential parts of his commission's report.

Today there is a national day of remembrance on the anniversary of his murder. Yitzchak Rabin is buried on the Herzlberg together with his wife Leah Rabin, who died in 2000. There a black stone reminds of him and a white stone of his wife. In addition to 60 heads of government and state, representatives from seven Arab states were present at his funeral.

After Rabin's death, negotiations and the entire peace process stalled.

In a 2005 Israeli survey, a quarter of those questioned said Rabin had fallen victim to a plot; this is also reflected in a number of websites that promote conspiracy theories.

Rabin's death was picked up in the Israeli documentary Itzak Rabin: Backgrounds of a Brutal Murder (1997, director: Michael Karpin ) and the feature film Rabin - The Last Day by Amos Gitai (2015).

Honors (selection)


Apart from a few articles for the IDF organ Maarachot , various other newspapers or papers of the Labor Party, Rabin published little. With no intellectual ambition or formal training - he never went to college - he left a strategic legacy.

  • Yitzhak Rabin: The Rabin Memoirs . University of California Press, Berkeley, California 1996. Expanded edition, 1994. Including several speeches including the one given at the Nobel Prize
  • Yitzhak Rabin: Mémoires . Buchet / Chastel, 1980


from the circle of the family:

  • Leah Rabin: I continue on his way. Memories of Yitzchak Rabin. Droemer Knaur, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-426-26975-9 (Original title: Rabin. Our Life - His Legacy. ).
  • Noa Ben Artzi-Pelossof: grief and hope. The granddaughter of Yitzhak Rabin on her life and generation. Rowohlt, Berlin 1996 (original title: In the name of sorrow and hope. Robert Laffont, Paris 1996).

on the circumstances of Rabin's murder:

  • Amnon Kapeliuk: Rabin. A political murder. Foreword: Lea Rabin. Droemer, Munich 1999.
  • Michael Karpin, Ina Friedman: The Death of Yitzhak Rabin. Anatomy of a conspiracy. Reinbek, Rowohlt 1998, ISBN 3-498-03496-0 .


  • William B. Quandt: The Peace Process. American Diplomacy and the Arab-Israeli Conflict since 1967. Brookings, Washington DC, 1993
  • Robert Owen Freedman (Ed.): Israel under Rabin . Westview, Boulder 1995.
  • Doron Arazi: Itzhak Rabin. Hero of War and Peace. Herder, Freiburg i. Br. 1996.
  • Robert Slater: Rabin: 20 Years After. Kotarim International Publishing, 2015.
  • Itamar Rabinovich: Yitzchak Rabin. When peace still seemed possible. A biography , Göttingen: Wallstein 2019, ISBN 978-3-8353-3452-6 .

Web links

Commons : Jitzchak Rabin  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Leah Rabin: I continue on his way. Memories of Yitzchak Rabin. Droemer Knaur, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-426-26975-9 , pp. 103, 104.
  2. Tom Segev : Once upon a time there was a Palestine . Munich, 2006, p. 552.
  3. Leah Rabin: I continue on his way. Memories of Yitzchak Rabin. Droemer Knaur, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-426-26975-9 , p. 131.
  4. Quotation: “Yitzchak gave the war its name in a newspaper interview on July 5, 1967, alluding to the six days of creation.” Quoted from Leah Rabin: I continue on his path. Memories of Yitzchak Rabin. Droemer Knaur, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-426-26975-9 , footnote p. 165.
  5. Leah Rabin: I continue on his way. Memories of Yitzchak Rabin. Droemer Knaur, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-426-26975-9 , p. 168.
  6. Leah Rabin: I continue on his way. Memories of Yitzchak Rabin. Droemer Knaur, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-426-26975-9 , p. 169.
  7. Leah Rabin: I continue on his way. Memories of Yitzchak Rabin. Droemer Knaur, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-426-26975-9 , pp. 103-105.
  8. Leah Rabin: I continue on his way. Memories of Yitzchak Rabin. Droemer Knaur, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-426-26975-9 , p. 373 f.
  9. ^ "Late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin stated at a cabinet meeting ... that he saw no reason to discriminate against gay and lesbian soldiers." Lee Waltz: Between Sodom and Eden. A gay journey through today's changing Israel. New York 2000, p. 118.
  10. Leah Rabin: I continue on his way. Memories of Yitzchak Rabin. Droemer Knaur, Munich 1997, ISBN 3-426-26975-9 , p. 12 f.
  11. Christoph Gunkel: Rabin murderer Jigal Amir: "Get wine and cake!". In: one day , November 4, 2015 ( spiegel.de ).
  12. Report in the taz , November 14, 1997.
  13. ^ Rüdiger Kremers: Champagne put aside. In: Jungle World . No. 46, November 13, 1997.
  14. Itzak Rabin: Background to a brutal murder. Documentary, Israel 1997, 61 minutes. In: Filmdienst .
  15. Partial excerpt from HaGalil , October 26, 2004.
predecessor Office successor
Tzvi Tzur Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces
Chaim Bar-Lev