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Address by IDF Chief-of-Staff Lieut.-Gen. Yitzhak Rabin on Acceptance of Honorary Doctorate from Hebrew University
Jerusalem, Mt. Scopus, June 1967
Mr. President, Mr. Prime Minister, Mr. President of the Hebrew University, Mr. Rector of the Hebrew University, Members of the Board of Governors, Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am filled with reverence as I stand here before the teachers of our generation in this ancient, magnificent place overlooking our eternal capital and the sacred sites of our nation's earliest history.
You have chosen to do me the great honor of conferring upon me the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, along with a number of distinguished persons who are doubtless worthy of this honor. May I be allowed to speak the thoughts that are in my heart?
I consider myself to be here solely as the representative of the whole Israel Defense Forces: of the thousands of officers and tens of thousands of soldiers who brought the victory of the Six Day War to the State of Israel.
It may well be asked why the University should have been moved to bestow upon me the degree of honorary Doctor of Philosophy, upon a soldier in recognition of his war services. What have soldiers to do with the academic world, which stands for the life of civilization and culture? What have those who are professionally occupied with violence to do with spiritual values? The answer, I think, is that in this honor which you have conferred through me upon my fellow soldiers you chose to express your appreciation of the special character of the Israel Defense Forces, which is itself an expression of the distinctiveness of the Jewish People as a whole.
The world has recognized that the Israel Army is different from most other armies. Though its first task, that of maintaining security, is indeed military, it also assumes numerous tasks directed to the ends of peace. These are not destructive, but constructive and are undertaken with the object of strengthening the nation's cultural and moral resources. Our work in the field of education is well known: it received national recognition in 1966 when the army won the Israel Prize for Education. Nahal, which already combines military duties with work on the land, also provides teachers for border villages, thus contributing to the social development. These are only a few examples of the special services of the Israel Defense Forces in this sphere.
Today, however, the University is conferring on us an honorary degree not for these things but in recognition of the army's moral and spiritual force as shown precisely in active combat. For we are all here in this place only by virtue that has astounded the world.
War is intrinsically harsh and cruel, and blood and tears are its companions. But the war we have just fought also brought forth marvelous examples of a rare courage and heroism, and the most moving expressions of brotherhood, comradeship and even spiritual greatness. Anyone who has not seen a tank crew continue its attack even though its commander has been killed and its tank almost destroyed, who has not watched sappers risking their lives to extricate wounded comrades from a mine field, who has not witnessed the concern for a pilot who has fallen in enemy territory and the unremitting efforts made by the whole Air Force to rescue him, cannot know the meaning of devotion among comrades.
The nation was exalted and many wept when they heard of the capture of the Old City. Our Sabra youth, and certainly our soldiers, have no taste for sentimentality and shrink from any public show of emotion. In this instance, however, the strain of battle and the anxiety which proceeded it joined with the sense of deliverance, the sense of standing at the very heart of Jewish history, to break the shell of hardness and diffidence, stirring up springs of feelings and spiritual discovery. The paratroopers who conquered the Wall leaned on its stones and wept. It was an act which in its symbolic meaning can have few parallels in the history of nations. We in the army are not in the habit of speaking in high-flown language, but the revelation at that hour at the Temple Mount, a profound truth manifesting itself as if by lightning, overpowered customary constraints.
There is more to tell. The elation of victory had seized the whole nation. Yet among the soldiers themselves a curious phenomenon is to be observed. They cannot rejoice wholeheartedly. Their triumph is marred by grief and shock, and there are some who cannot rejoice at all. The men in the front lines saw with their own eyes not only the glory of victory, but also its cost, their comrades fallen beside them soaked in blood. And I know that the terrible price the enemy paid has also deeply moved many of our men. Is it because their teaching, not their experience, has ever habituated the Jewish people to exalt in conquest and victory that they receive them with such mixed feelings?
The heroism displayed in the Six Day War generally went far beyond that of the single, daring assault in which a man hurls himself forward almost without reflection. In many places there were long and desperate battles: in Rafah, in El-Arish, in Um-Kal Um-Kataf, in Jerusalem and on the Golan Heights. In these places, and in many others, our soldiers showed a heroism of the spirit and a courage of endurance which inspired feelings of wonder and exaltation in those who witnessed them. We speak a great deal of the few against the many. In this war, perhaps for the first time, since the Arab invasions in the spring of 1948 and the battles of Negba and Degania, units of the Israel Defense Forces in every sector stood few against many. Relatively small units entered long, deep networks of fortifications, surrounded by hundreds and thousands of enemy troops, through which they had to cut and cleave their way for many long hours. They pressed on, even when the exhilarating momentum of the first charge had passed, and all that was left to sustain them was their belief in our strength, in the absence of any alternative, and in the end for which the war was being fought, and the compelling need to summon up every resource of spiritual strength to continue to fight to the end. Thus our armoured forces broke through on all fronts, our paratroopers fought their way into Rafah and Jerusalem, our sappers cleaned minefields under enemy fire. The units which penetrated the enemy lines after hours of battle struggled on, refusing to stop, while their comrades fell to the right and to the left of them. These units were carried forward, not by arms or the techniques of war, but by the power of moral and spiritual values.
We have always insisted on having the best of our young people for the Israel Defense Forces. When we said "Ha-tovim la-tayis ("the best for the Air Force") and this became a standard for the whole army, we were not referring only to technical skills and abilities. What we meant was that if our Air Force was to be capable of defeating the forces of four enemy countries in a few short hours, it could do so only if it were sustained by moral and human values. Our airmen who struck the enemies' planes with such accuracy that no one understands how it was done and the world seeks to explain it technologically by reference to secret weapons; our armoured troops who stood their ground and overcame the enemy even when their equipment was inferior to his; our soldiers in all the several branches of the army who withstood our enemies everywhere despite the superiority of their numbers and fortifications: what they all showed was not only coolness and courage in battle but a passionate faith in the justice of their cause, the certain knowledge that only their personal, individual resistance against the greatest of dangers could save their country and their families, and that the alternative to victory was annihilation.
In every sector our commanders of all ranks proved themselves superior to those of the enemy. Their resourcefulness, their intelligence, their power of improvisation, their concern for their troops, and above all, their practice in leading their men into battle: these are not matters of technique or equipment. There is no intelligible explanation except one -- their profound conviction that the war they were fighting was a just one.
All these things have their origin in the spirit and end in the spirit. Our soldiers prevailed not by the strength of their weapons but by their sense of mission, by their consciousness of the justice of their cause, by a deep love of their country, and by their understanding of the heavy task laid upon them: to insure the existence of our people in their homeland, and to affirm, even at the cost of their lives, the right of the Jewish people to live its life in its own state, free, independent and in peace.
The army which I had the privilege of commanding through this war came from the people and returns to the people: a people which rises above itself in time of crisis and prevails over all enemies in the hour of trial by its moral and spiritual strength.
As representative of the Israel Defense Army and in the name of each and every one of its soldiers, I accept your appreciation with pride.
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Yitzhak Rabin, (born March 1, 1922, Jerusalem—died November 4, 1995, Tel Aviv–Yafo, Israel), Israeli statesman and soldier who, as prime minister of Israel (1974–77 and 1992–95), led his country toward peace with its Palestinian and Arab neighbours. He was chief of staff of Israel’s armed forces during the Six-Day War (June 1967). Along with Shimon Peres, his foreign minister, and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) chairman Yasser Arafat, Rabin received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1994.
Rabin, the eldest child of Rosa ("Red Rosa") Cohen and Nehemia Rabin, was born in Jerusalem and raised in Tel Aviv. His parents immigrated separately during and after World War I to mandatory Palestine. There they became active in Zionist socialist settlement organizations such as the General Federation of Jewish Workers and the Hagana (the semi-underground military force of Palestine's Zionist Jewish community). Rabin was educated in the School for Workers' Children and in a Zionist social democratic youth movement called Hano'ar Ha'Oved V'Halomed (Working and Studying Youth).
In 1935, at age thirteen, Rabin was sent to study at Kibbutz Giv'at ha-Shlosha near the Jewish town of Petah Tikva. In 1937 he began studying at the Kaddoorie agricultural school in the lower Galilee. This school produced prominent members of the political and military leadership of the country's Zionist left. There, Rabin met Yigal Allon, who would be his commander, friend, and source of inspiration. And like most of the other youth there, Rabin was recruited into Jewish underground military activity.
Upon graduating from high school in 1940, Rabin planned to pursue studies in the field of water engineering. But as World War II approached Palestine, he decided instead to make security his primary occupation. In order to prepare for kibbutz life and integrate himself into the military operations of the Hagana with no financial constraints, he joined an agricultural training program at Kibbutz Ramat Yohanan near Haifa. During this period, Rabin spent most of his time in Hagana commanders' courses. As one of the first recruits to the Palmah, an elite Hagana fighting force established in May 1941 to prepare for the possibility of a Nazi invasion of Palestine, Rabin immediately assumed command and instruction responsibilities within the new unit.
During the 1940s, the political organizations to which Rabin belonged were radical activist Zionist-socialist groupings critical of Great Britain's anti-Zionist policies of the time. They cooperated with Britain during the war against Germany but did so reluctantly. At the end of the war, Rabin and his comrades participated in the Zionist struggle against the British. The Palmah carried out military operations during the rebellion, which also had political and settlement-oriented components, and a wing occupied solely with facilitating illegal Jewish immigration. On 10 October 1945, during on operation to free immigrants jailed in a British camp south of Haifa, Rabin, then a Palmah regiment commander, led the force that penetrated the compound. This was his first meeting with Holocaust survivors. In the summer of 1946, the British authorities arrested Zionist leaders and Palmah commanders in Palestine, including Rabin, in an effort to end the rebellion. The few months Rabin spent in a Rafah prison helped shape his image as a commander and a leader.
In 1947 Rabin and his Palmah colleagues prepared for the decisive phase in the Zionist struggle for a Jewish state. Immediately following the United Nation's (UN) historic 29 November 1947 decision to partition Palestine, the first Arab-Israeli war began, with Rabin on the front lines. At twenty five, he was the commander of the Harel Brigade, charged with the secure passage of Jewish supply convoys to Jerusalem and the campaign for the city. Rabin also participated in the battles for Latrun and the Lydda-Ramla road in May-July 1948. During this period, he experienced the horrors of war, as every third soldier in his brigade was injured or killed. According to his own testimony, this was the most difficult experience of his life.
In the summer of 1948, Rabin became the chief operations officer and deputy commander on the southern front and helped plan the October 1948–January 1949 campaign against Egyptian forces in the Negev desert. As he had neither served in a regular army nor participated in a major war, Rabin's professional military background—like that of many of his contemporaries in the new IDF—was limited. Nonetheless, he emerged as a professional, meticulous, and levelheaded military planner who made critical contributions to IDF successes toward the end of the war. Colonel Rabin participated in the Israeli-Egyptian armistice talks in Rhodes in early 1949. During this formative diplomatic experience, he proved to be an analytical thinker and a skilled negotiator.
Despite his talents, Rabin's rise through the ranks was impeded by his participation in a September 1948 demonstration against Prime Minister and Defense Minister David Ben-Gurion's decision to dismantle the Pal-mah, due to the unit's strong ties with a political party (Ahdut ha-Avoda [Unity of Labor]). As Rabin's act violated explicit orders, Ben-Gurion prevented him from attaining the position of CGS as long as he remained in office.
Rabin married long-time girlfriend Leah Schlossberg in August 1948 at the height of the war, and they eventually established their home in Tzahala, a Tel Aviv suburb populated by Israel's military and security elite. Between 1952 and 1964, Rabin filled a number of key positions on the IDF general staff. In January 1964, just seven months after Ben-Gurion's final resignation, Rabin was appointed CGS.
Yitzhak Rabin: Israel Leadership in a Lifetime
Yitzhak Rabin and Yigal Allon, Winter 1948
Michael Jacobs and Ken Stein
November 2, 2020
Yitzhak Rabin’s life story , in the words of former Knesset member Nachman Shai , is “ the story of the State of Israel .” He fought to create and defend it in 1948 and 1967, represented it in Washington, led it twice as prime minister, liberated Jews from captivity in 1945 and 1976, and embraced an opportunity for a chance at a longtime peace with the Palestinians in 1993. Rabin possessed essential qualities of an admired leader: credible, authentic, honest, visionary, and strategic. In addition, Rabin was taciturn, incisive, and suffered no fools. For a lifetime, he put the Jewish people on his shoulders as defender and diplomat.
Rabin possessed an air of authority, but not the charisma associated with Ben-Gurion, Dayan, or Begin. He was meticulous in preparation and thorough in strategic thinking , bold without being reckless. He prepared the pre-emptive military strike for the June 1967 war, when Rabin’s government signed the 1993 Oslo Accords on September 13, 1993, with the PLO, he did so because it was a “future’s option.” A critical prelude to the Accords’ signing was an exchange of letters between the PLO and Israel where each recognized the legitimacy of the other .
Rabin did not promise the Palestinians a state or self-determination he enabled them self-government, originally promised by Menachem Begin in the 1978 Camp David Accords but not implemented. From that declaration of principles, he wanted to see how the Palestinians would manage themselves and their relationships with Israel in a setting that could possibly expand. He felt it was important to separate Israelis from Palestinians hence he became an advocate for building the barrier/fence that separated Palestinians from Israelis on the West Bank.
In September 1995, he categorized a Palestinian entity as “pachot me-medina,” less than a state. Rabin never endorsed the idea of a two-state solution, though he believed ultimately Israel would have to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians. Separating geographically from them was the same pragmatic concept that his successor Ariel Sharon applied when Israel withdrew its settlers from the Gaza Strip in August 2005.
November 4 th marks the 25th anniversary of his assassination by a right-wing extremist who believed that Rabin was overzealous in his desire to make peace with the Palestinians. His assassin, Yigal Amir, wrongly believed that Rabin was prepared to cede the West Bank, the biblical patrimony of ancient Israel, to foreign sovereignty. Like every Prime Minister before or after him, none of them either ceded or declared Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank (except for parts of Jerusalem), leaving the area’s jurisdiction as an open option for the future.
Rabin was willing to move toward the Palestinians. However, the same commitment was not there for PLO leader Yasser Arafat. We learn from written sources that Arafat was more interested in autocratic rule over the Palestinians and the West Bank than he was interested in reaching a final end-of-conflict agreement with any of the eight Israeli Prime Ministers with whom he had contacts. None other than former Saudi Arabian Ambassador Bandar bin Sultan noted in an October 2020 interview that Arafat rejected every effort to end the conflict with Israel when given ample opportunity by four American presidents.
Rabin was the first native of the Land of Israel to serve as prime minister. Born in Jerusalem on March 1, 1922, he grew up in Tel Aviv. And in the summer of 1941 he was one of the first to join the Haganah’s elite strike force, the Palmach. He led a raid in 1945 to free illegal Jewish immigrants who were interned in a British camp in Athlit north of Herzlia. He became a battalion commander by the end of 1946 and the Palmach’s chief operations officer by late 1947.
Before and during the War of Independence, he led efforts to break the Arab blockade of Jewish Jerusalem, and he led the city’s defense early in the war. With some misgivings, he helped the Palmach integrate into the Israel Defense Forces at the orders of Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion in September 1948. Rabin then served as Yigal Allon’s deputy in the IDF’s Southern Command against the Egyptians and participated in 1948-49 war’s cease-fire talks in Rhodes.
A career IDF officer, Rabin missed fighting in the Sinai during the 1956 Suez Crisis because he was with the Northern Command. Rabin then became Chief of IDF Operations, and then in December 1963, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol named him the IDF Chief of Staff, extending his term beyond 1966. Rabin streamlined the army’s operations as an integrated fighting unit and assembled a team of highly competent generals, many of whom had served together since the pre-state period. He is credited, along with Air Force Gen. Ezer Weizman, with designing the operational plans that enabled Israel to gain a pronounced victory in the June 1967 war. The acquisition of all of Jerusalem, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights altered Israel’s strategic reality down to the present day.
Upon retiring from the IDF at the end of 1967, Rabin entered the diplomatic corps as Israel’s ambassador to the United States during the last year of Lyndon Johnson’s administration and the first term of Richard Nixon’s. Rabin helped ensure that the United States filled the role of Israel’s main arms supplier after France cut off sales in 1967, and he supported U.S. efforts to mediate negotiations between Israel and the new Egyptian government after Anwar Sadat took power in 1970. Those negotiations were not supported by Golda Meir’s government. Peter Rodman, a special assistant to Henry Kissinger, remembered Rabin as “the perfect ambassador” because of his toughness, strategic brilliance and understanding of the superpower rivalry in play in the Middle East. He also said Rabin was always grumpy.
Rabin returned to Israel in spring 1973, joined the Labor Party and won a Knesset seat in the December election, two months after the Yom Kippur War. He joined Meir’s Cabinet as labor minister in 1974, then succeeded her as prime minister when she resigned in April. There were three major highlights of his term: the signing of a first military disengagement agreement with Syria in May 1974, a second military disengagement agreement with Egypt in September 1975 , and the successful raid on the Entebbe, Uganda, airport in July 4, 1976, which freed more than 100 hostages taken in an airline hijacking.
Prime Minister Rabin and Secretary of State Kissinger, March 1975
Before the Knesset election in May 1977, a scandal broke over his wife’s retention of an American bank account, violating Israeli law, and Rabin resigned, turning the Labor leadership over to Shimon Peres, his long-term political rival in the Party. By resigning, Rabin demonstrated integrity and accepted accountability. Menachem Begin’s Likud party defeated Peres in the election, and Rabin was out of office when Egyptian President Sadat made his dramatically unexpected visit to Jerusalem in November 1977.
Yitzhak Rabin welcoming Menachem Begin to the Prime Minister’s Office, June 1977
Rabin returned to the Cabinet as the defense minister in unity governments from 1984 to 1990. After the first Palestinian uprising or “intifada” against Israeli control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip began in 1987, he ordered the IDF to respond with force. He learned that Palestinian national aspirations could not be defeated militarily, and he proposed in 1989 that Palestinian elections be held to enact the autonomy provisions of the Camp David Accords, to be followed by final-status negotiations.
After Rabin became prime minister for a second time in June 1992, negotiations with Jordan and Syria continued, but Peres drove secret talks with the PLO. Throughout the negotiations and afterwards, Rabin did not trust the PLO or its leadership. Yet he saw Israel with strength militarily and capable of testing Arafat’s intentions. For Rabin, the PLO-Israel mutual recognition letters were strategically significant the Oslo Accords signed at the White House were also not only for a trial separation with the Palestinians, but because the letters set up the immediate prospects of Jordan and Israel recognizing each other in their treaty within the year. PLO and Jordanian recognition of Israel in 1993 and 1994, respectively, provided the vital diplomatic precedent for the UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan to recognize Israel diplomatically in 2020.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, President Bill Clinton, Yasser Arafat, White House Lawn, September 13, 1993
Always the strategic thinker, Rabin believed that the stability of King Hussein’s Jordan was critical for Israel because Jordan was the vital land buffer between Israel and Iraq/Iran on Israel’s eastern flank. He understood that the mutual PLO-Israel recognition had great meaning for other Arab countries, particularly Jordan. The Jordan-Israel Treaty was signed October 26, 1994, with Hussein and Rabin embracing as two grizzled veterans of Middle Eastern history and politics.
King Hussein of Jordan and Israel’s Prime Minister Rabin, October 1994
As for Syria, Rabin continuously sought a way to negotiate with the Syrian regime of Hafez al-Assad but did not succeed because Assad wanted areas around the Sea of Galilee that would have jeopardized Israeli security and continued control over the headwaters of the Jordan River, which fed Israel’s National Water Carrier.
Rabin was “a soldier in the army of peace,” as he referred to himself in a July 1994 speech to the U.S. Congress, but observers of Arab-Israeli negotiations then and since have questioned whether he could have achieved that peace if he had lived. The absence of an unequivocal Palestinian political embrace of Israel has added enormous substance to the claim that even if he had lived, or if he had been succeeded by centrist or left-of-center Israeli leaders, an end to the conflict was not possible because courageous, strong and visionary leaders were not present on the Palestinian side to test Israeli politicians with similar leadership qualities.
Further Reading on Rabin – Analyses, Documents, Videos, Biographies
• Rabin expresses ambivalence about integrating the Palmach into the Israel Defense Forces in September 1948, israeled.org/palmach-integrates-idf
• June 28, 1967, Rabin explains the IDF’s dedication and success while accepting an honorary doctorate, israeled.org/resources/documents/israeli-chief-staff-yitzhak-rabin-right-israel
• September 1975, President Ford promises Rabin/Israel that any future peace agreement with Syria peace agreement will ensure Israel’s protection from attack from the Golan Heights, even if that means Israel keeps the Golan, israeled.org/resources/documents/promises-golan-heights-future-pres-ford
• September 13, 1993, the Oslo Accords are signed at the White House, israeled.org/resources/documents/oslo-accords
• October 5, 1995, Rabin shares his vision of the State of Israel in most of the British Mandate alongside “a Palestinian entity,” among eight decades of statements on a possible two-state solution, israeled.org/historical-statements-on-a-two-state-solution
• November 1, 1995, Rabin tells his speechwriter that he made an agreement with Arafat’s PLO to bolster secular Palestinian identity, fearing the religious growth of Hamas, israeled.org/resources/documents/yitzhak-rabin-oslo-accords
• November 1, 1995, Rabin discusses Lebanon, Syria, the Palestinians and the viciousness of his political opponents three days before his assassination, israeled.org/interview-with-israeli-prime-minister-yitzhak-rabin-discussing-lebanon-syria-palestinian-track
• March 1996, the Shamgar Commission reports on the Rabin assassination, israeled.org/resources/documents/shamgar-rabin-assassination
• September 2018, on the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, the Israeli delegation’s legal adviser, Joel Singer, looks back at the successes and failures, israeled.org/twenty-five-years-since-oslo-an-insiders-account
• February 4, 2020, Dan Diker of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs explains Rabin’s doctrine of defensible borders in the context of the Trump peace plan, israeled.org/the-u-s-peace-plan-a-return-to-the-rabin-doctrine-of-defensible-borders
Important Videos About Yitzhak Rabin and His Life
• 92 nd Street Y, “Remembering Yitzhak Rabin” (Itamar Rabinovich, Dalia Rabin with Peter Rubinstein), March 6, 2017 (1:00:39), www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJorltqRbuY
• Brookings Institution, “Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader, Statesman” (Bill Clinton, Martin Indyk, Itamar Rabinovich, Dalia Rabin), March 10, 2017 (1:24:55), www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5-8s7v2_f8
• Council on Foreign Relations, “The Life and Legacy of Yitzhak Rabin — 25 Years Later” (Martin Indyk, Marwan Muasher, Itamar Rabinovich), October 30, 2020 (1:00:24), www.youtube.com/watch?v=i6UCrO7Ufqg
• University of Arizona Center for Judaic Studies, “Rabin’s Assassination: A Turning Point in Israeli History” (Itamar Rabinovich), March 13, 2018 (39:16), www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iWopl0Iais
Key Rabin Speeches Archived at the Rabin Center
• Rabin, Leah. Rabin: Our Life, His Legacy. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1997.
• Rabin, Yitzhak. The Rabin Memoirs. Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company, 1979.
• Rabinovich, Itamar. Yitzhak Rabin: Solder, Leader, Statesman. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2017.
• Ross, Dennis and David Makovsky. Be Strong and of Good Courage, Chapter 3, New York, NY: Hatchette Book Group, 2019.
Governing is harder than conquering
TEL AVIV. Premier Yitzhak Rabin settled wearily into his chair and lit another cigarette from stub smoked down to his fingertips. He spoke sadly, slowly, in a low, grinding voice. A citrusscented breeze wandered into the book‐lined study of his Tel Aviv penthouse apartment, but in the brilliant light of the Mediterranean morning his eyes were squinty, tired, tense.
He had never thought, he said, that peace with the Arabs could come overnight. But he had hoped that, with the good offices of Dr. Henry Kissinger, a process might begin that could lead toward eventual peace by removing Egypt's motivation for making war. That effort had absorbed him in the preceding weeks of negotiations with President Sadat through the shuttle diplomacy of the American Secretary of State, and it had come nought. With the collapse of the Kissinger talks, the likelihood of another war had increased considerably. He was sure Israel would win that war, If at a high price. But he also knew that another military victory, and another, and yet another, would solve nothing.
That somber realization seemed to weigh on him —the general who had led Israel to victory in the Six‐Day War of 1967—like a dark and oppressive fate. He had sought to break the deadly pattern by a radical policy change. GoIda Meir had demanded full, formal peace and “genuine” reconciliation Rabin would be satisfied with an informal arrangement, with public and private understandings between Israel and Egypt and between each of the two belligerents and the United States. If Sadat could not commit himself to peace in writing, he could at least demonstrate his peaceful intentions by specific acts.
Israel, he said, was offering Egypt a piece of territory for a piece of peace, and for more peace it would offer more territory. But what was Egypt ready to offer in return for the oilfields and the strategic Sinai mountain passes it wanted back? So far, Egypt was offering only “words, words, words,” and even those it was whispering almost furtively into Dr. Kissinger's ear. For Israel, that was not enough.
A slight quiver of the lower lip betrayed the strain of the weeks of March, among the most difficult of his entire life. He had gone back to smoking, after months of trying to break the habit. His attempt to reach an interim settlement with Egypt had exposed him to an onslaught of domestic criticism that was ruthless even by the usually low standards of Israeli political controversies. The right‐wing opposition party Likud had accused him of delivering Israel into Kissinger's “claws.” Critics who denounced his step‐by‐step approach toward peace as wrong and dangerous questioned his intelligence and integrity. He was in his ninth month as Premier and still highly controversial, with a parliamentary majority of six that could shrink or disappear overnight on any one of a number of issues. For apart from the foreign and security problems, Rabin was facing an array of excruciatingly difficult domestic questions: an inflation that has pushed up most consumer prices by more than 50 per cent during the past two years, labor unrest, rising tension between poor Jews from the Arab countries and the better‐off from Europe and the United States, festering discord between synagogue and state, and pressing need for reforms in education, health and social services, taxation and fiscal affairs. All these problems were converging to create for Yitzhak Rabin, with his narrow power base, task that appeared well‐nigh insuperable.
Rabin was Premier almost by default. His rise to power in April, 1974, had been unexpected. He had not been a favorite of GoIda Meir, who, until her political demise in the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, dominated Israeli pol‐ (Continued on Page 40)
Continued from Page 11 itics with iron determination. Despite his popularity as a war hero, he did not have a political base. To rise within the ruling Labor party hierarchy he had to depend on a party machine that took its cue from the Premier. And as Ambassador to the United States from 1968 to 1973, Rabin's relations with Mrs. Meir had not always been smooth.
In the heady years after the victory of 1967, many Israeli politicians and officials had sometimes overestimated Israel's bargaining power and her capacity to pursue her policies alone, if necessary Rabin believed in closer collaboration with the United States. This is not to say that he was free of the illusions of most people at that time. Like most Israelis and many American officials, Rabin believed that the military option was no longer practicable for the Arabs, that only a political option—a settlement with Israel—was open to them. Nonetheless, he was usually more realistic than Mrs. Meir or Gen. Moshe Dayan in his estimate of what kind of teritorial settlement would be acceptable to the Arabs, and he warned constantly that while the United States supported border rectification, it would never support major changes in the pre‐1967
In Washington, he seems to have been the first Israeli Ambassador to be more popular with non‐Jews than with Jews. It was said that ITO other Ambassador knew so many secret entrances to the White House. He was one diplomat not noted for using language to hide his thoughts. His outspokenness, in fact, was often undiplomatic. He was entangled in controversy when he allegedly spoke out for Richard Nixon's re‐election in 1972 (he has vehemently denied doing so), and he angered Mrs. Meir and Foreign Minister Abba Eban by advocating this or that foreign‐policy course in television and newspaper interviews in Washington and on visits home. Asked by newspapermen to comment on President Nixon's words of high praise for Rabin, Mrs. Meir replied sourly, “That is
When he returned to Israel in March, 1973, eager to enter politics, his chances were rated fairly low. During the Yom Kippur War that October, Rabin's military acumen was ignored and he was shunted aside to head the War Loan Fund. In Mrs. Meir's final, short‐lived postwar Cabinet, he was assigned the Ministry of Labor, a minor post that held no great interest for him. He had wanted the Ministry of Defense or Foreign Affairs, but Mrs. Meir preferred others to fill those posts. In the early days of February, 1974, Rabin ruefully told an acquaintance that his years in America had apparently damaged his political career, perhaps irreparably. “I have been away from Israel too long. I am afraid that perhave missed the boat.”
It turned out otherwise. In the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, the old gods were falling. Images crumbled Dayan was discredited, as were GoIda Meir and all others who shared the responsibility for Israel's military and psychological unpreparedness. Rabin’ was one of the few who had played no active role in the events leading up to the war or the setbacks on the battlefield. He stood tall in the shambles. “If, a few months ago,” a columnist in the newspaper Haaretz wrote on Feb. 15, 1974, “someone had suggested Rabin for the Premiership, he would have been considered slightly mad. The reaction now, even among senior party officials, is ‘Well, why not ?’
GoIda Meir and Moshe Dayan, though just re‐elected to office, were beginning to break under the public pressures, including demonstrations by war veterans and widows protesting their attempts to absolve themselves of responsibility for the debacle. Mrs. Meir resigned in April, pulling down with her almost the entire top echelon that had led the country for more than a decade. The Premiership was offered in turri to two of Mrs. Meir's closest cronies, Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir and Justice Minister Haim Zadok, both of whom rejected it. The party bureaucracy's tentative “Well, why not Rabin?” became “Of course, Rabin Only
Iv more normal times, the support of the party machine would have been enough to give Rabin the nomination by a large majority. But the machine itself had lost its power over the restive rank and file. When the party caucus was held on April 22 —a separation of‐forces agreement had been signed with Egypt, but along the Syrian front the guns were still booming—the antimachine candidate, Shimon Peres, received 254 votes to Rabin's 298. The narrow margin of Rabin's victory reflected the weakness of his mandate. Not only was his hold on the nation and his own party uncertain, but Peres, a former Dayan supporter and a hard‐liner in foreign affairs, would henceforth be the strong partner in the Cabinet, in control
Nonetheless, Rabin's investiture signaled a new age in Israeli politics. At 52, he was the youngest Premier in the short history of a country accustomed to government by paternalistic septuagenarians, and the first Premier born and bred locally. His election symbolized the final departure of the generation of founding fathers from the public scene and the political ascent of a new, native‐born generation — self‐reliant, hardened by war, morally disillusioned, with fewer of the more universal Jewish loyalties and concerns of their elders and without their immoderate pretensions and utopian designs. In his serious demeanor, devoid of traditional Jewish humor and irony, and his stark, introverted personality, Rabin was supremely representative of the new Israeli
He was born in Jerusalem in 1922. But, as he once said, it could have been almost anywhere in Palestine. His parents, like so many of the early Zionist settlers, were peripatetic pioneers and moved constantly from one part of the country to another. In their native Russia they had been active in the Social Revolutionary party underground, exemplifying the intertwining of Zionism and revolution in pre‐1914 Czarist Russia that, for often obscure reasons, would make one dissatisfied young Jew into a Zinoviev or a Trotsky and another into a Weizmann
Escaping from the Czarist police in Kiev, Rabin's father, Nehemiah, journeyed to America from there, in 1918, as a soldier in the British‐commanded Jewish Legion, he went to Palestine, which the Allies had promised the Jews as a national home. He became a trade‐union organizer in Tel Aviv, an outspoken representative of the left wing of David Ben‐Gurion's Histadrut labor movement.
Yitzhak's mother, Rosa Cohen—under her maiden name a prominent public figure in her own right — was the daughter of a well‐to‐do family in Gomel, Russia. After finishing high school, she went to live among the poor and oppressed lumbermen in the vast forest domain of a Czarist prince, to work during the day arid preach the revolution at night. Her marriage to the son of a poor Kiev family, who had begun to work as a manual laborer at the age of 10, was in the tradition of Tolpopulism, to which so many among the eaucatea and wealthy subscribed, although few put it into lifelong practice. She was not, at first, a Zionist. She went to Palestine in 1920 not to settle as a pioneer but to visit a relative. She decided to stay less because of any conversion to Zionism or disenchantment with Soviet Communism than because the idealism and free lire‐style of the early kibbutzim appealed to her libertarian spirit.
Rosa was a woman of austere tastes and few words her strong convictions were rarely open to argument. Although she probably had less time to spend on the upbringing of her children than she might have liked, she was the dominant influence in the young Rabin's life. By the time she died in 1938, at the age of only 48, her demeanor and example had left an indelible mark on the character of the 16‐year‐old Yitzhak.
The family inhabited a Spartan, sparsely furnished two‐room apartment in Tel Aviv. Yitzhak and his younger sister often found themselves alone for weeks on end, looked after by relatives and ntighbors while both parents pursued an active public life—as well as a clandestine one in the underground Jewish defense organization, Haganah. A puritanical atmosphere of dedication to public causes, not untypical of the early Zionist settlers, pervaded the Rabin home. It was accompanied by a disdain for personal gain and material comfort. “It was a disgrace to speak about money,” Rabin remembers. It was unthinkable to work at anything that did not contribute to the realization of Socialism or Zion The stern, almost religious pursuit of service was soon marred by bloody violence. When Rabin was 7, the first widespread Arab attacks on Jewish settlements began. Tel Aviv, at one point, was severed from the other Jewish settlements. The Rabin family bathroom was turned into a secret Haganah arsenal. Both parents were often away on guard duty. He was 14 when violence broke out again in 1936, in attacks that would last intermittently until the outbreak of World War II. Clandestine arms, the need to defend oneself at a moment's notice, were a part of daily life. He grew up a shy.
“It is true that I am rather closed person,” he told an interviewer a few ago. “I just don't know it means to be friendly or friendly. Every man likes keep a few sides of his to himself. There are who find it easier to express themselves, and there those who find self‐expression more difficult. I think I the second kind.”
Rabin's military reer began when was 19 Like many of professional soldiers, he drawn into the military life chance. He graduated cum laude in 1940 from the Kadouri Agricultural Training School at the foot of Tabor, and won a scholarship to study agronomy and engineering in the States. World War II made a journey to America ble, and he moved to a butz, Ramat Yochanan. It was there, in 1941, that a versation with a young Haganah member named Moshe Dayan made him volunteer for a special unit called Pamach. Dayan described the dangers facing the country from Syria, a French mandated territory at the time held by the pro‐Nazi Vichy regime. A Jewish unit being organized to aid British as scouts for an sion of Syria. “Can you handle an automatic rifle?” Dayan. “Not really,” answered Rabin. “Well, then, mind,” said Dayan, a bit approvingly. (Neither then since have they had
A few weeks later, Rabin was with the forces in Lebanon, telephone wires behind the French lines. For the next 26 years—until the end of 1967 —the would‐be agronomist remained in active military service. Caught up in ground Haganah work, he took one of its first semiprofessional infantry‐office courses. The British him in 1946, and he spent several months behind wire with other Haganah men
In 1948, when the attacked the fledgling Israel, Rabin commanded makeshift “brigade” played a decisive role in venting the Arabs from pying the Jewish‐populated western part of Jerusalem was soon recognized as of the best field officers the new Israeli Army brilliant tactician and a leader of men. His unit, infantry regiments and improvised armored it repelled a concerted attack by professional Jordanian Arab Legion forces commanded by British officers and backed up by heavy artillery and armor.
The successful defense came at a heavy cost in lives. Those who knew him at the time say that, while outwardly calm, the 26‐year‐old Rabin was so affected by each new report of casualties that he aged years in a matter of weeks. The Israeli novelist Yoram Kaniuk, who served in one of his units, has described Rabin standing one afternoon on a hillside near Jerusalem. “He stood there, all alone, for hours, sunk in thought. His face was heavy and morose. It seemed to me that he was overcome by a tremendous bitterness, a deep melancholy. It grew dark on the mountain. Still he stood there, absolutely motionless, and it was impossible, in the dusk, to see into rock.”
Throughout his army career, Rabin was soft‐spoken and almost excessively cautious. On the eve of the 1967 war—after President Nasser had blocked the Strait of Tiran at Sharm el Sheik — many top Israeli Army officers pressed for a pre‐emptive strike against Egyptian troop concentrations in the Sinai. Rabin, on the other hand, felt that Israel must first exhaust all possible political alternatives. Almost alone among the generals, he seemed to fear what war would bring. He feared, above all, the casualties. But perhaps he also feared that the war would overextend Israel militarily and politically, with unforeseeable consequences. Before 1967 and after, he never succumbed, as did so many of his army colleagues, to flights of strategic fancy and daredeviltry in foreign affairs. To his last day in in the words of the poet, Haim Guri, “a most unsoldierly soldier.” The speech that General Rabin made on Mount Scopus on June 28, 1967, as Chief of Staff in the victorious Six‐Day War, was remarkable for its good sense, humane tone, modesty and circumspection, at a time when so many were beating drums in self‐satisfied ostentation or claiming inalienable rights over this or that piece of real estate in the occupied areas. Thanking Hebrew University for awarding him an honorary degree, Rabin wondered aloud wheth er it was appropriate for an academic institution, dedi. cated to civilized pursuits, to honor soldiers, whose metiet He accepted du degree, he said, only because through him the university was honoring an army of civilians imbued with an unmilitary spirit. While the nation at large rejoiced in victory, he said, within the army there was “more than a trace of sadness.” “[The] front‐line soldiers,” he said, “saw not only the glory of victory but its price their comrades fell beside them and perished in their blood. Moreover, I know that many hearts were touched by the terrible price paid by the enemy. Perhaps the Jewish people has never been trained for conquest, and is incapable of feeling proud as a conquerer. Therefore, we conquer with mixed
When Rabin was elected Premier, opinion on his qualifications for the office was sharply divided, and not along normal party lines, either. To some Israelis it seemed that the qualities ascribed to him — cautiousness, moderation and readiness to compromise — were precisely the ones called for in the difficult domestic and international situation created by the Yom Kippur War. Rabin's low‐keyed style, devoid of the easy glamour of a Dayan or the overpowering singlemindedness of a Meir, was refreshing after years of inflated rhetoric and charismatic leadership by father and mother figures whose magic had evaporated overnight. “He does not compel admiration, and he is not leading a herd of blind sheep. He must try hard to convince his followers at each and every turn,” a columnist in the Histadrut paper Davar wrote in April, 1974. “If it is only given him, he may well be the right leader for this bitter and uncertain
But others felt differently. The unnerving confusions and claustrophobic sense of isolation inherent in never‐ending war against an encircling enemy makes many Israelis seek comfort and solace in the radiant self‐confidence and oversimplifications of the “magnetic” leader. In the aura of a Ben‐Gurion, a Dayan or a GoIda Meir there had always been something of the Hassidic wonder‐rabbi of days past. It was Rabin's lack of radiance that prompted some of the most spirited attempts to block his nomination. His name had barely been mentioned as a possible candidate when voices were heard saying that he was a “weak man” incapable of making “firm deand a mass leader. The day before the nominating caucus, a former general. Ezer Weizman, now a member of the extremeright‐wing party, Hemt, published the text of a secret memorandum he claimed to have written at Dayan's request six years earlier in the aftermath of the Six‐Day War. while he was still serving under Rabin as his chief of operations. The memorandum purported to be a report on leabin's mental state on the eve of the war. In it, Weizman claimed that a week before the outbreak of hostilities, Rabin had suffered a nervous breakdown, and that a military doctor had diagnosed his condition as one of “acute anxiety,” which rendered him mentally “unbalanced” and “incapable of making deci Weizman's allegations were not substantiated by any other source and were dismissed by Rabin as a mean canard, yet the episode was a foretaste of the troubles ahead.
In his inaugural speech to the Knesset, Rabin promised a Government of “change and continuity.” By “change” he was assumed to mean an end to political and intellectual immobilism in foreign affairs and in some crucial areas of domestic life, and by “continuity” the striving for a renaissance of Labor party idealism. Rabin's basic complaint was that territorial and border issues had been magnified out of all proportion under the Meir‐Dayan administration. Borders had become a fetish, at the expense of more important matters. Dayan had spoken of drawing a “new map” of the Middle East Rabin saw the real task as one not of cartography but of nation‐building and of establishing the good society. Few things were more alarming to him than the spread, under the traumatic impact of the Yom Kippur War, of a narrow‐minded, right‐wing nationalism wed to the religious parties. (The National Religious party had refused to
One of his first acts as Premier was to order the army to evict unauthorized settlers from the occupied areas. The encouragement, and probably some of the financing, for such illegal settlements came, and continues to come, from the right‐wing opposition. Rabin was alarmed by the explosive mixture of chauvinism and religiosity that inspired these and other attempts by nongovernmental bodies to perpetuate Israel's presence in the occupied areas. He has said publicly that it would be no disaster if, following the establishment of peace, Hebron were returned to Jordan and Israelis could travel there only with visas. GoIda Meir had never said that, although she may have subscribed to similar views.
An unsentimental man, Rabin regards the occupied territories (with the possible exception of the Old City of Jerusalem) not as sacrosanct acquisitions bit as bargaining counters. At a recent closed session of the Knesset's Foreign Relations Committee, a Likud member attacked him for offering to return the Sinai oilfields to Egypt in exchange for a declaration of nonbelligerency. Rabin retorted angrily, “But for God's sake, since when is Abu Rodeis a Jewish holy place?” He feels that in the heady aftermath of the 1967 war, some segments of the Israeli public lost touch with the humanist traditions of Zionism, as well as with reality in a quickly changing world. He keeps a marked copy of Harry Truman's papers on a library shelf and pulls it out on occasion to quote from a letter President Truman once wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt: “The actions of some of our U.S. Zionists” — Rabin substitutes the words “Israeli hard‐liners” —“will eventually prejudice what they are trying to get done. I fear very much the Jews are like all underdogs. are just as intolerant and as cruel as the people were to them when they were underneath.”
Rabin's courage and candor are all the more remarkable when one remembers that more than 600,000 Israelis, or 44 per cent of all who voted in the last Knesset election, signed a Likud petition in March opposing withdrawal from the occupied West Bank even in exchange for peace. Having shared some of their illusions in the past, he has been careful not to criticize his predecessors publicly, and he has made it a point to pay special deference to Mrs. Meir (still a power in the party) and to consult her regularly. Still, on one occasion a few months ago, he neatly dissociated himself from the events of 1973. Heckled about the Yom Kippur War at a public meeting, Rabin snapped, “Go and ask those who were in government then about this.” He has also publicly declared that his Government will initiate its own peace moves and not wait for the Arabs to sue for peace. This is in sharp contrast to Dayan's remark of 1967, “I now wait for
“I see it as the first duty of this Government,” Rabin told the Knesset last October, “to explore every reasonable path [to peace], for I believe that even if we cannot achieve peace, the people must be convinced that we have done everything to avoid war. want to look with a clear conscience straight into the eyes of fathers and mothers whose sons may fall.”
He was answered with catcalls from the Likud side of the aisle.
MR. MUDAI: You won't be able to
MR. DRUBLAS: You will bring on another Holocaust MR. SHOSTAK: Did other [Israeli] Governments go to war when they had other alternatives? How dare you pretend that that is your policy exclusively
While he has been as adamant as Mrs. Meir in ruling out withdrawal to the insecure pre‐1967 borders, he has publicly suggested that Israel would seriously consider relinquishing “large parts” of Judea and Samaria, even short of formal peace, in exchange for a Jordanian declaration of nonbelligerency. For this, he has been taken to task by the National Religious party leader, Dr. Zerah Warhaftig. “You don't get peace by flying a new peace dove every morning. If we sell out at discount prices, we won't get with Jordan.”
He has had many clashes with the right‐wing opposition. They have called his Government a “national disaster.” In return, he has called the Likud leader, Menachem Begin, the “archeological exhibit of the Israeli political scene.” The Likud rhetoric obviously grates on his nerves. He has responded on occasion with a tactlessness that gave him reason to be sorry afterward. Heckled by right‐wingers protesting his alleged readiness to relinquish occupied areas, he turned angrily on a man who shouted, “Trea“And what have done for Israel?” Rabin asked. The man replied, “I lost a son in the Yom Kippur War.” Another time, he walked out of the Knesset in the middle of a speech by a Likud member, Geula Cohen.
CoxEN: I realize, Mr. Prime Minister, that my words find no pleasure in your ears. But you will have to get used to hearing them. I therefore ask you to return.
RABIN (from the aisle) have more important things to do. (Cries of “Shame!”)
BEGIN: Mr. Prime Minister, you have dishonored the Knesset.
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE: When Kissinger speaks, you don't dare leave the room
In smaller groups, speaking off the record with university teachers, writers, professional people or party officials, Rabin has been articulate and candid in expanding on his philosophy of “exploring the possible” vis‐à‐vis the Arabs and on his hopes of resolving some of Israel's gravest domestic problems. “Look here,” he said at a recent meeting with a group that wanted to establish more settlements on the occupied Golan Heights, “you claim that settling the Golan is important for security reasons. Well, the truth is that the army considers these settlements a nuisance, since they impair its maneuverability on the heights.” Few politicians would have the courage for this kind of myth He is also more down‐toearth than many in Israel in assessing relations with the United States. He discounts the view that it is possible to alleviate the effects of potential Israel‐United States impasse by “mobilizing Ameri can‐Jewish opinion.” Although his own experience of America coincided with the heyday of the pro‐Israeli lobby, his estimate of the lobby's strength is restrained. “There are limits beyond which American Jews cannot go, and I think they should not.”
In public appearances, he has been much less effective His image in the newspapers is unflattering, by and large He is a dull speaker. He talks in a low monotone, rarely looking at his audience, with the emphasis occasionally or the wrong syllable. On television he is generally awkward and ill‐at‐ease. Unlike so many of the country's poli ticians, he never waves the flag and rarely speaks . “principles” or “values.” Ways and means, methods and tech nicalities, are his theme. He no glad‐hander, no baby‐kisser. Yet after the years of overstatement, his painful earnestness is not without charm of its own. In a theater last month, an old woman rushed up to him, grasped his hand and exclaimed, “I wish you success, sir, success for the sake of all of us!” Rabin flushed. Like a schoolboy, he stammered, “Thank you thank you I'll try I'll really try”
A widely heard criticism is that although Rabin promised both change and continuity, there has been too little of the first and too much of the second. Actually, he has been walking a tightrope between the two, and considering his narrow parliamentary majority, the perplexing difficulties he inherited and his own natural handicaps, he might be said to have done quite well.
An important start has been made on the domestic problems—the need to restructure the economy, revamp the public administration and reform the antiquated electoral procedure. To give just one example of the complexities involved, the system of taxation is so cumbersome that every rule has at least three dozen exceptions and no citizen seems capable of completing his income tax returns without the expensive assistance of a public accountant. In one area after another—the legal system, labor relations, ecology, town planning—the country needs to be revitalized, and Rabin has recruited a new team of technicians who, lacking the glamour and reputation of their predecessors, are “trying harder,” as the Haaretz columnist Yoel Marcus recently wrote. Not in 27 years have there been so many new and eager faces in the Israeli
Rabin himself has concentrated on the rehabilitation of the armed forces, and the consensus is that he has been well served in this task by his hard‐line rival in power, the energetic and imaginative Defense Minister Shimon Peres. The Israeli Army is said to be considerably stronger today than before the 1973 war, bristling with the newest and most sophisticated weapons systems. So, of course, are the Arab armies. Rabin's special concern, therefore, has been to put the armed forces on a new footing psychologically‐‐to eliminate the tendency to overconfidence that led to misjudgments in the Haunted by the memory of Yom Kippur, 1973, Rabin and Peres are resolved not to be caught by surprise again.
As Rabin prepares for the forthcoming Geneva conference on the Middle East, he is not at all certain that peace is possible, even if Israel adopts a more flexible line. He fears that the Arabs, in the flush of success and obsequious courting by the West, may be pre paring to move in for what they hope will be “the kill.” And yet he wants to be sure he is exploring every possible avenue to peace. Despite the collapse of the Kissinger talks, his first priority remains a settlement with Egypt. The chief elements of such a settlement, as he sees it, would be confidence and reciprocity in exchange for peace, Egypt could get back almost the whole of the Sinai peninsula, but what would Egypt do to demonstrate that peace
As for Syria, Rabin sees little if any indication of any readiness for peace on the part of that country's leaders. There has been little except venom out of Syria since the separation‐of‐forces agreement. Moreover, there is no real buffer zone between Israel and Syria, only the Golan Heights, which Israel regards as vital to her security and which Syria is not likely to relinquish in a settlement.
In the absence of any breakthroughs toward agreement or even a semblance of peace with the Arabs, Rabin's main purpose now is said to be twofold: to safeguard the alliance with the United States, even at the cost of what many Israelis would regard as excessive concessions to the Arabs, and to gain time —time to reorganize, rebuild, retrench, improve time to enable the West to develop alternative sources of energy and free itself of crushing dependence on Arab oil time, perhaps, for the Arabs to turn their new riches to the development of their societies in Henry Kissinger, In 1969, told Rabin an anecdote about Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort, who would say that only three people really understood the Schleswig‐Holstein problem, which bedeviled 19th‐century Europe. One, said Albert, was the King of Prussia, and he was dead. The other was the King of Denmark, and he was in a mental hospital, “I am the third,” said Albert, “and have, forgotten it.”
Time may be the great healer. Still, one wonders if Rabin expects the Palestinians to forget their demands lie knows Israel will have to deal with that problem some day. He hopes that it will be possible to deal with it after Israel's problems with the Arab states have been at least partially resolved, and that it can be dealt with, at that time, in a different context. He has resisted all attempts by Foreign Minister Yigal Alton and the former Information Minister, Aharon Yariv, to relax the Government's strictures against negotiations
A group of Israeli writers recently argued with Rabin late into the night on the subject. Rabin would not budge. He said a Palestinian state on the West Bank would be a “time bomb,” viable neither politically nor economically, plagued by irredentism and leaning toward the Soviet Union, if not toward China. When he stood in the ruins of the Savoy Hotel in Tel Aviv, target of a Palestinian terrorist attack two months ago, and said that Israel would deal with the Palestine Liberation Organization only on the battlefield, he meant every word. He has promised that there will be no withdrawal from the West Bank before the country has an opportunity, to pass on the deal in a general election. His ability to survive such an election would depend on whether the public would regard the arrangement as one giving Israel real peace and secure borders. At the moment, that
Rabin was 53 last month. The birthday was celebrated at his Tel Aviv apartment. His vivacious wife, Leah his son, Yuval his daughter, Dahlia her husband, Avraham Artzi, and their four‐monthold baby, Jonathan, were all with him. The 19‐year‐old Yuval is a lieutenant in the tank corps, serving his compulsory three years in the military. Rabin's son‐in‐law is a captain in the tank corps. If war breaks out, both will be in front‐line combat units, where the casualty rate, especially among officers, has been extremely high in the past. The subject was not mentioned, but it was in the back of everyone's mind, hovering over the small talk and the laughter, the way it does these days at all such Israeli family gatherings: a numbing pain, a kind of knowledge, a reconciliation not with reason but with fate, rarely articulated, always felt, always feared, always there.
Yitzhak Rabin: A Life of Public Service
The Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv is the national institute established in 1997 by the Government of Israel – the Knesset – that advances the legacy of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, a path-breaking, visionary leader whose life was cut short in a devastating assassination.
The Center, in a similar vein to a presidential library, presents Yitzhak Rabin’s remarkable life and tragic death, pivotal elements of Israeli history, through its Israeli Museum, archives and educational programs. The Center’s mission is to ensure that the vital lessons from this story are remembered, and are used to shape an Israeli society characterized by open dialogue, democratic values and social cohesion.
The centerpiece of the Yitzhak Rabin Center experience is The Israeli Museum. Comprised of nearly 200 short documentary films, visitors explore the history and makings of the State via exhibit halls, each focused on historical turning points in the country’s development. The exhibits – presented chronologically from 1922-1995 – present the conflicts, social challenges and dilemmas the country faced, as well as her successes. Along the inner corridor and interwoven with the exhibits’ narratives is the life story of Yitzhak Rabin, the connecting thread in the country’s history and development. The milestones of Yitzhak Rabin's life – Childhood, Soldier, Statesman and Prime Minister – are aptly illustrated in the on-line exhibition entitled “Yitzhak Rabin: A Life of Public Service”.
We invite you to visit us during your next trip to Tel Aviv, Israel.
A Sabra, a native-born Israeli Jew - 1922-1941
Yitzhak Rabin was born in Jerusalem, raised in Tel Aviv and educated at the School for Workers’ Children and in the Hanoar Haoved youth movement. He was the eldest child of Third Aliyah immigrants to Israel, pioneers Rosa Cohen and Nehemia Rabin. His mother, “Red Rosa,” served in the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor), on the City Council and in the Haganah, an underground military organization set-up by a group of Jewish immigrants during the British Mandate (1920-1948). His father was active in the trade union and the Haganah. At the age of fifteen, Yitzhak Rabin realized his dream of attending the prestigious Kadoorie Agricultural School where he first met Yigal Allon and Haim Guri, legendary military figures that he admired. He completed his studies in the summer of 1939, graduating with honors. During his studies , he was recruited to the Haganah.When it seemed as though World War II would reach Palestine, Rabin gave up a university scholarship and committed himself to defense work.
"In those childhood years [. ] I developed an inner sense of responsibility for the task at hand, a love of the land and its landscapes, a sense of comradeship.“
Yigal Allon, a commander of the Palmach, the elite combat force of the Haganah , recruited Rabin to serve as a fighter. Rabin served in command and training positions. He headed the strike force that liberated Jewish refugees being held at the Atlit detention facility. During the struggle against the British, he was imprisoned in the Rafah detention camp. Upon his release, he served as a commander during Palmach maneuvers in preparation for the possibility of war.
“The Palmach way of life reflected [. ] a true and innocent readiness on our part to sacrifice ourselves for our people.”
Defending Jerusalem - 1947-1949
Yitzhak Rabin was elated and joyous on the historic night of November 29, 1947, following the United Nations vote in favor of the Partition Resolution the calling for Palestine to be partitioned between Arabs and Jews, allowing for the formation of the Jewish state of Israel
The next day he was at war.
At 25 years of age, he was responsible for guarding the supply convoys to Jerusalem and commanded the Harel brigade that fought hard for many months. The Brigade’s battalions operated in Jerusalem and its surroundings from the outbreak of the War of Independence, its losses were among the highest in this cruel war. As second-in-command to General Yigal Allon in Operation Dani, Rabin took part in the conquest of Lydda-Ramle.
As operations officer on the southern front, Rabin was involved in planning the major campaigns to crush the Egyptian forces and liberate the Negev ,Israel’s southern region .
David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister and defense minister, disbanded the Palmach, a move that distressed Rabin and attended the Palmach convention in defiance of Ben-Gurion’s orders.
Motivated by a sense of national responsibility, Rabin decided to remain in the military, a decision that determined the course of his life.
“The most difficult moments of my life were as commander of the Harel Brigade.”
In August 1948, Yitzhak Rabin married Lea Schlossberg. The couple lived with her parents in Tel Aviv where their daughter, Dalia, was born. Four years later, they purchased their first home in Zahala, an IDF subsidized neighborhood, where their son, Yuval, was born. Lea Rabin was wholly devoted to her family.
“When I look back on our twenty-four-year marriage. among those we know, [I am hard put] to find a finer couple.”
Chief of General Staff - 1964-1967
During his years in the military, Rabin filled a variety of staff, training and command positions. He was among those who determined the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) war theory, drawing on the experiences of the Palmach, the British Army and other armed forces around the world. He worked to equip the IDF and raise the standards of training for what he regarded as the “citizen army”. His appointment to deputy chief of general staff marked him as a candidate for the top position.
At the age of forty-one Rabin became chief of general staff. His term was marked by the growing might of Egypt and Syria due to the supply of advanced Soviet arms, Syria’s attempts to divert Israel’s water sources and its sponsorship of terrorist activity. Rabin increased the IDF’s deterrent power, both quantitatively and qualitatively, to avoid war while formulating a strategy to deal with possible escalation.
“Our might, which has sustained us until now, will continue to sustain and ensure our survival.”
When Egyptian armor advanced to the Sinai Peninsula , Chief of General Staff Yitzhak Rabin called up Israel’s reserve forces. The government discussed the possibility of going to war. Rabin found himself torn between the military advantage of a preemptive strike and his recognition of the government’s duty to exhaust diplomatic channels. The weight of the responsibility was utterly exhausting. However, after a 24-hour rest, he recovered and returned to work. The army he commanded was ready to go to war.
During the battles, Rabin commanded the battleground from “the Bunker”, IDF headquarters, where he updated combat plans according to the continually shifting situation. He also toured and inspected the battle fronts. One of the greatest moments of his life was when he entered the Old City of Jerusalem together with General Moshe Dayan and General Uzi Narkiss.
Following the War, the Hebrew University awarded Rabin an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy in recognition of his achievements as chief of general staff.
In his address, without pride or glee, Rabin spoke of the heavy price paid by both the victors and the vanquished in this war.
“Our soldiers’ deeds, above and beyond the call of duty, did not spring from force of arms, but from their awareness of a higher mission, from their recognition of the rightness of our cause, from a deep love of their homeland and from the realization of the great task they faced to protect the existence of their people in their land.”
Discovering America - 1968-1973
In February 1968, after twenty-seven years of military service in the IDF, Yitzhak Rabin retired and was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the United States.
During his term of office, he strengthened Israel’s bond with the American Jewish community and laid the foundations for the special relationship between Israel and the United States. He learned to appreciate the U.S. system of government, as well as America’s economic and social capabilities. Upon his return to Israel, Rabin joined the Labor Party and was elected to the Knesset. He served as Minister of Labor in Prime Minister Golda Meir’s government.
“I became convinced [. ] that our relations with the US and with the myriad Jewish communities in the mightiest country in the Western world would only increase in importance.”
Following the political turmoil caused by the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Yitzhak Rabin, who had not been involved in that “blunder”, was appointed prime minister. Interim agreements that he reached with Egypt and Syria were the first steps toward a peace. Rabin also sought to reach an agreement with Jordan and opposed the idea of “political settlements”, but refrained from evacuating the settlers of Sebastia.
During his three-year term of office, he also made a major effort to rehabilitate the country’s war-torn economy. Israel’s international image improved significantly following Operation Entebbe, the IDF’s successful rescue of an Air France passenger plane hijacked to Uganda.
“Peace will come when Arab leaders finally cross the Rubicon and move from belligerent confrontation to peaceful coexistence.”
Following a coalition crisis with the National Religious Party, and believing that new elections would strengthen his position, Rabin resigned as prime minister. During the ensuing election campaign, the press revealed details of a then-prohibited US bank account in his wife’s name.
Rabin decided to stand by his wife, sharing responsibility for the offense, and withdrew his candidacy for premiership.
After the election victory of the political party of Likud, Yitzhak, a member of the Labor party, Rabin found himself in the Opposition. During this period, he published The Rabin Memoirs, in which he attacked his party rival, Shimon Peres. Rabin supported the peace treaty with Egypt, viewing it as an extension of his earlier policy. Deeply worried by the PLO’s entrenchment in Lebanon, he supported “Operation Peace for Galilee” (the Lebanon War), but when the IDF deviated from the original battle plan, he adamantly opposed it.
“The Opposition is a very important institution in democratic states, certainly in ours. If there is no alternative, one must bide one’s time in the Opposition and do the work from there.”
A Statesman Again - 1985-1991
As defense minister in the National Unity Government, Yitzhak Rabin regarded the conflict with the Arab states as the key threat facing Israel. Despite this, routine internal security concerns occupied most of his attention. He did not shirk from forceful action against terrorism, while simultaneously easing the daily lives of Palestinians. Despite public criticism, the “Jibril Deal” went through, leading to the release of 1,150 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for three Israeli prisoners of war. He also instructed the IDF to carry out a phased withdrawal in Lebanon to a security strip along the border.
The Palestinians’ uprising convinced Rabin that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could not be resolved by force. The Intifada’s negative impact on Israeli society, soldiers and the IDF’s status as a “citizen army” persuaded Rabin to pursue a political track. In the peace initiative which he published, he called for elections in the territories to be followed by final-status negotiations with the newly elected government. After the dissolution of the National Unity Government, Rabin attacked Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's government for diplomatic foot-dragging. In tandem, he saw the collapse of the Soviet Union as an historic turning point for the Middle East, one which could possibly provide the region with unprecedented opportunity. He also saw a threat to Israel’s existence in the efforts by some regional states to acquire nuclear arms. Israeli public’s fear and anxiety during the Gulf War intensified and reinforced Rabin’s perception that the nation was ready for peace and its price.
Rabin and Krueger Gallery Collection
Nathan Krueger – born 1916 died October 29, 1961, Newark, NJ.
Krueger was known for his assistance to and encouragement of young artists, but also as a strong promoter and supporter of the Newark Museum. In 1938 he was instrumental in their acquisition of Joseph Stella's five panel New York Interpreted (1922), which the Museum owns to this day. Krueger was a patron of Rafael Soyer, about whom Krueger edited and published a book called: Raphael Soyer Paintings and Drawings. In addition to his work with Bernard Rabin, Krueger was a leader in establishing the American Arts Congress in New Jersey, as well as sponsoring several art groups in New York.
Bernard Rabin – born November 1, 1916, Bronx, NY died March 24, 2003, Boynton Beach, FL.
Mr. Rabin studied at Newark State Teachers College (now, Kean University) but was expelled for exhibiting a nude painting. He was later awarded an honorary degree by the university. In addition to his work with Nathan Krueger and their gallery he was renowned for his work in art restoration.
He studied with Brooklyn Museum conservators Sheldon and Caroline Keck. He was credited with developing a method for removing a painting from its original canvas and transferring it intact to a new support.
Mr. Rabin led the American team of restoration experts at the Uffizi Galleries in Florence after the floods of November 1966. He also was credited with saving a waterlogged collection of early musical instruments at Florence's Bardini museum.
He refurbished the Brumidi fresco inside the Capital dome in Washington, D.C. and restored the ceiling at the U.S. Library of Congress. He restored a portrait of Andrew Jackson in the White House. He worked on many works at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, including Monet's Water Lillies.
He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Conservation and the International Institute of Conservation. He taught conservation and restoration at Princeton, where he was conservator of the university's art collection.
Together they established the Rabin and Krueger American Drawing Fund at the Newark Museum.
Bernard Rabin and Nathan Krueger met in 1927 at an art class at Fawcett School (later the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts). They began what would be a 26 year partnership as Newark art dealers on November 1, 1935. They established their first gallery, The Cooperative Gallery, May 1, 1936, at 120 Washington Street, to reflect the "American scene as local artists portrayed it." The gallery also offered framing and restoration services.
Their first show included works by John R. Grabach, Bernard Gussow, Raphel Soyer, Diego Rivera, Joseph Stella, and Bertram Hartman. In 1937 they showed the works of six photographers, including Berenice Abbott, Margaret Bourke-White and Irving Rusinow. In 1937 they also sponsored, with the American Artists Congress, the "First Annual New Jersey Competitive Exhibition."
In 1939 they changed the name to the Rabin and Krueger Gallery and relocated to 95 Halsey Street. The gallery moved for the last time in 1946 to 47 Halsey Street, Newark, where they continued exhibitions and the framing and restoration business. In 1947 they hired James Nutile, a young artist who started as a part-time framer. He moved to full-time and helped Krueger design special frame moldings.
After their 20th anniversary in 1956 Rabin began to focus on art conservation. This interest took him on a work–study program at the Uffizi Galleries. Krueger began work on a monograph on Raphael Soyer entitled Raphael Soyer Paintings and Drawings that was published in 1961.
On October 29, 1961 Nathan Krueger died. Rabin was deeply involved in his conservation but decided to keep the gallery open and offered gallery partnership to James Nutile who accepted. After the riots in the summer of 1967 Newark fell on severely hard times, with business and home-owners fleeing the city. Nutile considered moving the gallery but decided, instead, with Rabin, to close its doors in 1974.
Bernard Rabin continued with his conservation and restoration work until his death March 24, 2003.
Myths & Facts Online - The 1967 Six-Day War
Israel consistently expressed a desire to negotiate with its neighbors. In an address to the UN General Assembly on October 10, 1960, Foreign Minister Golda Meir challenged Arab leaders to meet with Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion to negotiate a peace settlement. Egyptian President Nasser answered on October 15, saying that Israel was trying to deceive the world, and reiterating that his country would never recognize the Jewish State. 1
The Arabs were equally adamant in their refusal to negotiate a separate settlement for the refugees. Nasser made clear that solving the refugee issue was not his concern. &ldquoThe danger of Israel,&rdquo he said, &ldquolies in the very existence of Israel as it is in the present and in what she represents. 2
Meanwhile, Syria used the Golan Heights, which tower 3,000 feet above the Galilee, to shell Israeli farms and villages. Syria&rsquos attacks grew more frequent in 1965 and 1966, while Nasser&rsquos rhetoric became increasingly bellicose: &ldquoWe shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand,&rdquo he said on March 8, 1965. &ldquoWe shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood.&rdquo 3
Again, a few months later, Nasser expressed the Arabs&rsquo aspiration: &ldquo. the full restoration of the rights of the Palestinian people. In other words, we aim at the destruction of the State of Israel. The immediate aim: perfection of Arab military might. The national aim: the eradication of Israel.&rdquo 4
&ldquoIsrael&rsquos military strike in 1967 was unprovoked.&rdquo
A combination of bellicose Arab rhetoric, threatening behavior and, ultimately, an act of war left Israel no choice but preemptive action. To do this successfully, Israel needed the element of surprise. Had it waited for an Arab invasion, Israel would have been at a potentially catastrophic disadvantage.
While Nasser continued to make speeches threatening war, Arab terrorist attacks grew more frequent. In 1965, 35 raids were conducted against Israel. In 1966, the number increased to 41. In just the first four months of 1967, 37 attacks were launched. 5
Meanwhile, Syria&rsquos attacks on Israeli kibbutzim from the Golan Heights provoked a retaliatory strike on April 7, 1967, during which Israeli planes shot down six Syrian MiGs. Shortly thereafter, the Soviet Union &mdash which had been providing military and economic aid to both Syria and Egypt &mdash gave Damascus information alleging a massive Israeli military buildup in preparation for an attack. Despite Israeli denials, Syria decided to invoke its defense treaty with Egypt.
On May 15, Israel&rsquos Independence Day, Egyptian troops began moving into the Sinai and massing near the Israeli border. By May 18, Syrian troops were prepared for battle along the Golan Heights.
Nasser ordered the UN Emergency Force, stationed in the Sinai since 1956, to withdraw on May 16. Without bringing the matter to the attention of the General Assembly, as his predecessor had promised, Secretary-General U Thant complied with the demand. After the withdrawal of the UNEF, the Voice of the Arabs proclaimed (May 18, 1967):
As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel. We shall exercise patience no more. We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel. The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence. 6
An enthusiastic echo was heard on May 20 from Syrian Defense Minister Hafez Assad:
Our forces are now entirely ready not only to repulse the aggression, but to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland. The Syrian army, with its finger on the trigger, is united. I, as a military man, believe that the time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation. 7
On May 22, Egypt closed the Straits of Tiran to all Israeli shipping and all ships bound for Eilat. This blockade cut off Israel&rsquos only supply route with Asia and stopped the flow of oil from its main supplier, Iran. The following day, President Johnson declared the blockade illegal and tried, unsuccessfully, to organize an international flotilla to test it.
Nasser was fully aware of the pressure he was exerting to force Israel&rsquos hand. The day after the blockade was set up, he said defiantly: &ldquoThe Jews threaten to make war. I reply: Welcome! We are ready for war.&rdquo 8
Nasser challenged Israel to fight almost daily. &ldquoOur basic objective will be the destruction of Israel. The Arab people want to fight,&rdquo he said on May 27. 9 The following day, he added: &ldquoWe will not accept any. coexistence with Israel. Today the issue is not the establishment of peace between the Arab states and Israel. The war with Israel is in effect since 1948.&rdquo 10
King Hussein of Jordan signed a defense pact with Egypt on May 30. Nasser then announced:
The armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon are poised on the borders of Israel. to face the challenge, while standing behind us are the armies of Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait, Sudan and the whole Arab nation. This act will astound the world. Today they will know that the Arabs are arranged for battle, the critical hour has arrived. We have reached the stage of serious action and not declarations. 11
President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq joined in the war of words: &ldquoThe existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified. This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948. Our goal is clear -- to wipe Israel off the map.&rdquo 12 On June 4, Iraq joined the military alliance with Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
The Arab rhetoric was matched by the mobilization of Arab forces. Approximately 250,000 troops (nearly half in Sinai), more than 2,000 tanks and 700 aircraft ringed Israel. 13
By this time, Israeli forces had been on alert for three weeks. The country could not remain fully mobilized indefinitely, nor could it allow its sea lane through the Gulf of Aqaba to be interdicted. Israel&rsquos best option was to strike first. On June 5, the order was given to attack Egypt.
&ldquoNasser had the right to close the Straits of Tiran to Israeli shipping.&rdquo
In 1956, the United States gave Israel assurances that it recognized the Jewish State’s right of access to the Straits of Tiran. In 1957, at the UN, 17 maritime powers declared that Israel had a right to transit the Strait. Moreover, the blockade violated the Convention on the Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone, which was adopted by the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea on April 27, 1958. 14
The closure of the Strait of Tiran was the casus belli in 1967. Israel’s attack was a reaction to this Egyptian first strike.
President Johnson acknowledged as much after the war (June 19, 1967):
If a single act of folly was more responsible for this explosion than any other it was the arbitrary and dangerous announced decision that the Strait of Tiran would be closed. The right of innocent maritime passage must be preserved for all nations. 15
&ldquoThe United States helped Israel defeat the Arabs in six days.&rdquo
The United States tried to prevent the war through negotiations, but it could not persuade Nasser or the other Arab states to cease their belligerent statements and actions. Still, right before the war, President Johnson warned: &ldquoIsrael will not be alone unless it decides to go alone.&rdquo 16 Then, when the war began, the State Department announced: &ldquoOur position is neutral in thought, word and deed.&rdquo 17
Moreover, while the Arabs were falsely accusing the United States of airlifting supplies to Israel, Johnson imposed an arms embargo on the region (France, Israel&rsquos other main arms supplier, also embargoed arms to Israel).
By contrast, the Soviets were supplying massive amounts of arms to the Arabs. Simultaneously, the armies of Kuwait, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq were contributing troops and arms to the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian fronts. 18
&ldquoIsrael attacked Jordan to capture Jerusalem.&rdquo
Prime Minister Levi Eshkol sent a message to King Hussein saying Israel would not attack Jordan unless he initiated hostilities. When Jordanian radar picked up a cluster of planes flying from Egypt to Israel, and the Egyptians convinced Hussein the planes were theirs, he then ordered the shelling of West Jerusalem. It turned out the planes were Israel&rsquos, and were returning from destroying the Egyptian air force on the ground. Meanwhile, Syrian and Iraqi troops attacked Israel&rsquos northern frontier.
Had Jordan not attacked, the status of Jerusalem would not have changed during the course of the war. Once the city came under fire, however, Israel needed to defend it, and, in doing so, took the opportunity to unify its capital once and for all.
&ldquoIsrael did not have to shoot first.&rdquo
After just six days of fighting, Israeli forces broke through the enemy lines and were in a position to march on Cairo, Damascus and Amman. A cease­fire was invoked on June 10.
The victory came at a very high cost. In storming the Golan Heights, Israel suffered 115 dead &mdash roughly the number of Americans killed during Operation Desert Storm. Altogether, Israel lost twice as many men &mdash 777 dead and 2,586 wounded &mdash in proportion to her total population as the U.S. lost in eight years of fighting in Vietnam. 19 Also, despite the incredible success of the air campaign, the Israeli Air Force lost 46 of its 200 fighters. 20 Had Israel waited for the Arabs to strike first, as it did in 1973, and not taken preemptive action, the cost would certainly have been much higher and victory could not have been assured.
&ldquoIsrael had no intention of negotiating over the future of the territories it captured.&rdquo
By the end of the war, Israel had captured enough territory to more than triple the size of the area it controlled, from 8,000 to 26,000 square miles. The victory enabled Israel to unify Jerusalem. Israeli forces had also captured the Sinai, the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
Israel&rsquos leaders expected to negotiate a peace agreement with their neighbors and, almost immediately after the war, expressed their willingness to negotiate a return of at least some of the territories. Israel subsequently returned all of the Sinai to Egypt, territory claimed by Jordan was returned to the Hashemite Kingdom, and all of the Gaza Strip and more than 50 percent of the West Bank were given to the Palestinian Authority.
To date, approximately 94 percent of the territories won in the defensive war have been given by Israel to its Arab neighbors. This demonstrates Israel&rsquos willingness to make territorial compromises.
&ldquoIsrael expelled peaceful Arab villagers from the West Bank and prevented them from returning after the war.&rdquo
After Jordan launched its attack on June 5, approximately 325,000 Palestinians living in the West Bank fled. 21 These were Jordanian citizens who moved from one part of what they considered their country to another, primarily to avoid being caught in the cross fire of a war.
A Palestinian refugee who was an administrator in a UNRWA camp in Jericho said Arab politicians had spread rumors in the camp. &ldquoThey said all the young people would be killed. People heard on the radio that this is not the end, only the beginning, so they think maybe it will be a long war and they want to be in Jordan.&rdquo 22
Some Palestinians who left preferred to live in an Arab state rather than under Israeli military rule. Members of various PLO factions fled to avoid capture by the Israelis. Nils-Göran Gussing, the person appointed by the UN Secretary-General to investigate the situation, found that many Arabs also feared they would no longer be able to receive money from family members working abroad. 23
Israeli forces ordered a handful of Palestinians to move for &ldquostrategic and security reasons.&rdquo In some cases, they were allowed to return in a few days, in others Israel offered to help them resettle elsewhere. 24
Israel now ruled more than three-quarters of a million Palestinians &mdash most of whom were hostile to the government. Nevertheless, more than 9,000 Palestinian families were reunited in 1967. Ultimately, more than 60,000 Palestinians were allowed to return. 25
After the Six-Day War ended, President Johnson announced his view of what was required next to end the conflict:
&ldquoCertainly, troops must be withdrawn but there must also be recognized rights of national life, progress in solving the refugee problem, freedom of innocent maritime passage, limitation of the arms race and respect for political independence and territorial integrity.&rdquo 26
&ldquoDuring the 1967 War, Israel deliberately attacked the USS Liberty.&rdquo
The Israeli attack on the USS Liberty was a grievous error, largely attributable to the fact that it occurred in the midst of the confusion of a full-scale war in 1967. Ten official United States investigations and three official Israeli inquiries have all conclusively established the attack was a tragic mistake.
On June 8, 1967, the fourth day of the Six-Day War, the Israeli high command received reports that Israeli troops in El Arish were being fired upon from the sea, presumably by an Egyptian vessel, as they had a day before. The United States had announced that it had no naval forces within hundreds of miles of the battle front on the floor of the United Nations a few days earlier however, the USS Liberty, an American intelligence ship under the dual control of the Defense Intelligence Agency/Central Intelligence Agency and the Sixth Fleet, was assigned to monitor the fighting. As a result of a series of United States communication failures, whereby messages directing the ship not to approach within 100 miles were not received by the Liberty, the ship sailed to within 14 miles off the Sinai coast. The Israelis mistakenly thought this was the ship shelling its soldiers and war planes and torpedo boats attacked, killing 34 members of the Liberty's crew and wounding 171. Ships from the Sixth Fleet were directed to launch four attack aircraft with fighter cover to defend the Liberty, but the planes were recalled after a message was received at the White House that the Israelis had admitted they had attacked the ship.
Tapes of the radio transmissions made prior, during and after the attack do not contain any statement suggesting the pilots saw a U.S. flag before the attack on the ship. During the raid, a pilot specifically says, &ldquothere is no flag on her!&rdquo The recordings also indicate that once the pilots became concerned about the identity of the ship, by virtue of reading its hull number, they terminated the attack and they were given an order to leave the area. 27 Critics claimed the Israeli tape was doctored, but the National Security Agency of the United States released formerly top secret transcripts in July 2003 that confirmed the Israeli version.
Numerous mistakes were made by both the United States and Israel. For example, the Liberty was first reported &mdash incorrectly, as it turned out &mdash to be cruising at 30 knots (it was later recalculated to be 28 knots). Under Israeli (and U.S.) naval doctrine at the time, a ship proceeding at that speed was presumed to be a warship. The sea was calm and the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry found that the Liberty&rsquos flag was very likely drooped and not discernible moreover, members of the crew, including the Captain, Commander William McGonagle, testified that the flag was knocked down after the first or second assault.
According to Israeli Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin&rsquos memoirs, there were standing orders to attack any unidentified vessel near the shore. 28 The day fighting began, Israel had asked that American ships be removed from its coast or that it be notified of the precise location of U.S. vessels. 29 The Sixth Fleet was moved because President Johnson feared being drawn into a confrontation with the Soviet Union. He also ordered that no aircraft be sent near Sinai.
A CIA report on the incident issued June 13, 1967, also found that an overzealous pilot could mistake the Liberty for an Egyptian ship, the El Quseir. After the air raid, Israeli torpedo boats identified the Liberty as an Egyptian naval vessel. When the Liberty began shooting at the Israelis, they responded with the torpedo attack, which killed 28 of the sailors. In 1981, the National Security Agency noted that accounts by members of the Liberty crew and others did not have access to the relevant signal intelligence reports or the confidential explanation provided by Israel to the United States, which were used in the CIA investigation. The NSA concluded: “While these [signal intelligence of Israeli communications] reports revealed some confusion on the part of the pilots concerning the nationality of the ship, they tended to rule out any thesis that the Israeli Navy and Air Force deliberately attacked a ship they knew to be American.” 29a
Initially, the Israelis were terrified that they had attacked a Soviet ship and might have provoked the Soviets to join the fighting. 30 Once the Israelis were sure what had happened, they reported the incident to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and offered to provide a helicopter for the Americans to fly out to the ship and to any help they required to evacuate the injured and salvage the ship. The offer was accepted and a U.S. naval attaché was flown to the Liberty.
The Israelis were &ldquoobviously shocked&rdquo by the error they made in attacking the ship, according to the U.S. Ambassador in Tel Aviv. In fact, according to a secret report on the 1967 war, the immediate concern was that the Arabs might see the proximity of the Liberty to the conflict as evidence of U.S.-Israel collusion. 31 A second secret report concluded, “While the attack showed a degree of impetuosity and recklessness, it was also clear that the presence of a U.S. naval vessel, unannounced, that close to belligerent shores at a time when we had made much of the fact that no U.S. military forces were moving near the area of hostilities was inviting disaster.” 31a
A U.S. spy plane was sent to the area as soon as the NSA learned of the attack on the Liberty and recorded the conversations of two Israeli Air Force helicopter pilots, which took place between 2:30 and 3:37 p.m. on June 8. The orders radioed to the pilots by their supervisor at the Hatzor base instructing them to search for Egyptian survivors from the &ldquoEgyptian warship&rdquo that had just been bombed were also recorded by the NSA. &ldquoPay attention. The ship is now identified as Egyptian,&rdquo the pilots were informed. Nine minutes later, Hatzor told the pilots the ship was believed to be an Egyptian cargo ship. At 3:07, the pilots were first told the ship might not be Egyptian and were instructed to search for survivors and inform the base immediately the nationality of the first person they rescued. It was not until 3:12 that one of the pilots reported that he saw an American flag flying over the ship at which point he was instructed to verify if it was indeed a U.S. vessel. 32
In October 2003, the first Israeli pilot to reach the ship broke his 36-year silence on the attack. Brig.-Gen. Yiftah Spector said he had been told an Egyptian ship was off the Gaza coast. &ldquoThis ship positively did not have any symbol or flag that I could see. What I was concerned with was that it was not one of ours. I looked for the symbol of our navy, which was a large white cross on its deck. This was not there, so it wasn&rsquot one of ours.&rdquo The Jerusalem Post obtained a recording of Spector&rsquos radio transmission in which he said, &ldquoI can&rsquot identify it, but in any case it&rsquos a military ship.&rdquo 33
Many of the survivors of the Liberty remain bitter, and are convinced the attack was deliberate. None of Israel&rsquos accusers, however, can explain why Israel would deliberately attack an American ship at a time when the United States was Israel&rsquos only friend and supporter in the world. Confusion in a long line of communications, which occurred in a tense atmosphere on both the American and Israeli sides is a more probable explanation.
Accidents caused by &ldquofriendly fire&rdquo are common in wartime. In 1988, the U.S. Navy mistakenly downed an Iranian passenger plane, killing 290 civilians. During the Gulf War, 35 of the 148 Americans who died in battle were killed by &ldquofriendly fire.&rdquo In April 1994, two U.S. Black Hawk helicopters with large U.S. flags painted on each side were shot down by U.S. Air Force F-15s on a clear day in the &ldquono fly&rdquo zone of Iraq, killing 26 people. In April 2002, an American F-16 dropped a bomb that killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. In fact, the day before the Liberty was attacked, Israeli pilots accidentally bombed one of their own armored columns. 34
Retired Admiral, Shlomo Erell, who was Chief of the Navy in Israel in June 1967, told the Associated Press (June 5, 1977): &ldquoNo one would ever have dreamt that an American ship would be there. Even the United States didn&rsquot know where its ship was. We were advised by the proper authorities that there was no American ship within 100 miles.&rdquo
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara told Congress on July 26, 1967: &ldquoIt was the conclusion of the investigatory body, headed by an admiral of the Navy in whom we have great confidence, that the attack was not intentional.&rdquo Twenty years later, he repeated his belief that the attack was a mistake, telling a caller on the &ldquoLarry King Show&rdquo that he had seen nothing in the 20 years since to change his mind that there had been no &ldquocover­up.&rdquo 35
Why Do Colleges Hand Out Honorary Degrees?
It's graduation season in America. And as proud college students and their parents crowd into sun-drenched football stadiums for two hours of speechmaking and endless loops of "Pomp and Circumstance," they could be forgiven for wondering why 30 minutes of their long-awaited graduation ceremony is taken up by wealthy donors, obscure academics and the occasional rapper in ceremonial robes accepting phony degrees.
The annual collegiate tradition of conferring honorary degrees has a long history and its fair share of critics, including Thomas Jefferson, who forbade the University of Virginia (UVA), which he founded in 1819, from handing out honorary degrees just to curry favor with bigshot businessmen and politicians. (That didn't stop Jefferson from happily accepting an honorary law degree from Harvard.)
Besides UVA, only MIT, Stanford and Cornell explicitly ban the practice of awarding honorary degrees in the U.S. William Barton Rogers, the founder of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a UVA alum, dismissed the practice of handing out honorary degrees as "unfriendly to true literary advancement" and "of spurious merit and noisy popularity."
For those universities that continue the practice, the upside of honorary degrees is obvious. As Arthur E. Levine, former president of the Teachers College at Columbia University told The New York Times in 1999, "Sometimes they are used to reward donors who have given money sometimes they are used to draw celebrities to make the graduation special." Levine approved of honorary degrees, seeing them as teaching opportunities to"[show] examples of people who most represent the values the institution stands for."
The History of Honorary Degrees
American colleges and universities borrowed the tradition of honorary degrees from Europe, where respected universities like Oxford and Cambridge have been handing out paper doctorates in ceremonies called "Encaenia" (festival of renewal) since the 15th century.
The very first honorary degree on record was a brazen attempt to score points with a wealthy and politically connected bishop named Lionel Woodville. In 1478, Oxford delivered an unearned doctorate to Woodville's door and the influential bishop returned the favor by accepting a position as chancellor of the university.
By the 17th century, the practice of gifting honorary degrees to the rich and powerful had spun out of control with King Charles I handing out 350 Oxford doctorates to supporters and members of his court in a single year. Meanwhile, in the American colonies, Harvard University had its own reasons for conferring its first honorary degree. Believing that "only a doctor could create a doctor," Harvard gave the first American unearned doctorate in sacred theology to Increase Mather, its president, in 1692.
In 19th-century America, reported Malcolm Gillies, there was an outbreak of unearned Ph.D.s, rendering the new "doctor of philosophy" title virtually meaningless. It even became common practice for universities to hand out honorary medical doctorates, leading the president of the Northeastern Dental Association to warn in 1910 that "the most dangerous, delusive, debauching and degrading thing in American educational life. is the practice of granting unearned degrees."
Honorary Degrees as Marketing
Today, the conferring of unearned degrees is less of a menace to society and more of a savvy marketing opportunity. As Levine said, colleges choose to honor public figures, artists, activists, academics and yes, celebrities whose achievements reflect the values of the university. Most of the time honorees are required to collect their "doctorates" in person and deliver a few remarks to the graduating students. These often get reported in the press.
Uzoma Ayogu is a 2017 graduate of Duke University and a student body-elected young trustee on the college's board of trustees. Ayugo sits on the Committee on Honorary Degrees, which is charged with reviewing all nominations for honorary degrees submitted by Duke students, faculty and staff.
"Honorary degrees serve as a way to inspire the students graduating that day," writes Ayugo in an email. "Those receiving them should be symbols of the highest achievement in various areas of human accomplishment and graduates should feel that they can reach those heights. For those who receive them I imagine it feels good to be recognized for a lifetime of achievement in their field."
Competition for top names is fierce. Universities send out invitations at least a year in advance for big-name honorees like former presidents and A-list comedians. And the number of honorary degrees conferred each year seems to be swelling. According to analysis by Zachary Crockett at Priceonomics, in just the past 15 years, Harvard has doled out 64 percent of its total honorary degrees. And this is a school that's been around for nearly 400 years.
Boards of trustees need to be careful, though, because picking the wrong honoree can come back to bite you. Just ask the dozens of colleges and universities that bestowed honorary doctorates on Bill Cosby over the past four decades. At Yale, Cosby became the first to have his honorary degree rescinded in more than 300 years. Even Cosby's beloved alma mater, Temple University, pulled his honorary doctorate in 2018 after the comedian/actor was convicted of sexual assault. (Cosby did earn a doctorate in education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the 1970s.)
Does an Honorary Degree Mean You Get to Be Called 'Doctor'?
According to dozens of university policy statements reviewed by Grove City College psychology professor Warren Throckmorton, it is universally understood that an honorary doctorate does not give the recipient the right or privilege of calling themselves "Dr. Pitbull."
Florida Atlantic University doesn't pull any punches: "In no instance will the recipient of an honorary doctorate from Florida Atlantic University represent the award as being an earned doctorate or an earned academic credential of any kind. This award does not entitle the recipient to use the title of 'Dr.' or append 'Ph.D.' or any other earned degree designation after his/her name. Inappropriate use of the award could result in its withdrawal by action of the President and Provost, with the input of the University Faculty Senate Honors and Awards Committee."
While most honorary degree recipients understand and respect this distinction between an earned and unearned degree, others disagree. Benjamin Franklin famously referred to himself as Dr. Franklin after receiving honorary doctorates from Oxford and the University of St. Andrews (Harvard only gave him a master's degree).
More recently, the late author and activist Maya Angelou caught flack for adding "Dr." to her name after receiving numerous honorary degrees. "Wake Forest University, where she taught for many years, colluded in this ruse, referring to her in its obituary as 'civil rights activist and professor Dr. Maya Angelou,'" wrote Mark Oppenheimer in The New Republic. "When I called the school to ask why it went along with this misdirection, a spokesman told me, 'That was her choice, to be called that.'"
Open-source software pioneer Richard Stallman, himself the recipient of 16 honorary doctorate degrees but nary an earned one, also has the habit of signing his emails "Dr. Stallman," but maybe just to mess with us.
Even the Los Angeles Development Church & Institute, where you can straight up buy an honorary doctorate online, cautions its patrons to use the honorary title properly. "Honorary titles may be used outside of the academic field as long as it is made clear that they are not professional designations," says the organization's website.
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