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Yitzhak Rabin: Eulogies at Rabin's Funeral

(November 6, 1995)

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, murdered by Yigal Amir following a Peace Rally in Tel Aviv on November 4, 1995, was laid to rest with full military honors on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem. Leaders from eighty nations gathered in Jerusalem to pay homage to the fallen leader.
The following are excerpts from eulogies delivered by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Jordian King Hussein, American President Bill Clinton, Acting-Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Rabin's granddaughter Noa Ben-Artzi Filosof.

President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt:

It is with deep regret that we are assembled here today to pay our last regrets to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, a courageous leader and recognized statesman.

His earnest efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East are a testament to his vision, which we share, to end the suffering of all the peoples of Arab regions. He defied the prejudices of the past to tackle the most complicated of problems, namely the Palestinian problem, in a forthright manner.

The success he achieved in this regard has finally led to the foundations of peaceful coexistence between the Palestinians and the Israelis in a climate of trust and mutual respect.

The untimely loss of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin at this important juncture in the history of the Middle East has dealt a severe blow to our noble cause. We must therefore redouble our efforts and reaffirm our obligation to continue the sacred mission to achieve a just and lasting peace. We must deprive those traitorous hands hostile toward our goal from reaping the rewards of their vile actions.

Only through our unwavering commitment to this objective can we truly honor the memory of this fallen hero of peace. And I could say that is the best memorial to Yitzhak Rabin.

On this sad occasion, ladies and gentlemen, I extend the condolences of government of Egypt and my personal condolences to the government of Israel and the family of Yitzhak Rabin.

King Hussein of Jordan:

I never thought that the moment would come like this, when I would grieve the loss of a brother, a colleague and a friend, a man, a soldier who met us on the opposite side of a divide, whom we respected as he respected us, a man I came to know because I realized as he did that we had to cross over the divide, establish the dialogue and strive to leave also for us a legacy that is worthy of him.

And so he did. And so we became brethren and friends.

Never in all my thoughts would it occur to me that my first visit to Jerusalem ... would be on such an occasion.

You lived as a soldier. You died as a soldier for peace and I believe it is time for all of us to come out openly and to speak of peace. Not here today, but for all the times to come. We belong to the camp of peace. We believe in peace. We believe that our one God wishes us to live in peace and wishes peace upon us.

Let's not keep silent. Let our voices rise high to speak of our commitment to peace for all times to come and let us tell those who live in darkness, who are the enemies of light ... This is where we stand. This is our camp. We are determined to conclude the legacy for which my friend fell as did my grandfather in this very city when I was with him as but a young boy. He was a man of courage, a man of vision and he was endowed with one of the greatest virtues that any man can have. He was endowed with humility. And, standing here, I commit before you, before my people in Jordan and before the world myself to continue to do the utmost to ensure that we shall leave a similar legacy.

The peaceful people in the majority of my country, of the armed forces and people who once were your enemies are somber today and their hearts are heavy. Let us hope and pray that God will give us all guidance each in his respective position to do what he can for the better future that Yitzhak Rabin sought.

President Bill Clinton of the United States:

To Leah, to the Rabin children and grandchildren and other family members, President Weizman, Acting Prime Minister Peres, members of the Israeli government and the Knesset, distinguished leaders from the Middle East and around the world, especially His Majesty, King Hussein for those remarkable and wonderful comments and President Mubarak for taking this historic trip here and to all the people of Israel, the American people mourn with you in the loss of your leader. And I mourn with you for he was my partner and friend.

Every moment we shared was a joy because he was a good man and an inspiration, because he was also a great man.

Leah, I know that too many times in the life of this country, you were called upon to comfort and console the mothers and the fathers, the husbands and the wives, the sons and the daughters who lost their loved ones to violence and vengeance. You gave them strength. Now, we here and millions of people all around the world, in all humility and honor, offer you our strength. May God comfort you among all the mourners of Zion and to Israel. Yitzhak Rabin lived the history of Israel through every trial and triumph, the struggle for independence, the wars for survival, the pursuit of peace and in all he served on the front lines. This son of David and of Solomon took up arms to defend Israel's freedom and laid down his life to secure Israel's future. He was a man completely without pretense as all of his friends knew.

I read that in 1949, after the War of Independence, David Ben-Gurion sent him to represent Israel at the armistice talks at Rhodes and he had never before worn a necktie and did not know how to tie the knot. So, the problem was solved by a friend who tied it for him before he left and showed him how to preserve the knot simply by loosening the tie and pulling it over his head.

Well, the last time we were together, not two weeks ago, he showed up for a black tie event on time, but without the black tie. And so, he borrowed a tie. And I was privileged to straighten it for him. It is a moment I will cherish as long as I live.

To him, ceremonies and words were less important than actions and deeds. Six weeks ago, the king and President Mubarak will remember, we were at the White House for signing the Israel/Palestinian agreement and a lot of people spoke. I spoke. The king spoke. Chairman Arafat spoke. President Mubarak spoke. Our foreign ministers all spoke. And finally, Prime Minister Rabin got up to speak and he said, "First, the good news. I am the last speaker." But he also understood the power of words and symbolism. Take a look at the stage he set in Washington - the King of Jordan, the President of Egypt, Chairman Arafat and us, the prime minister and foreign minister of Israel on one platform.

"Please take a good hard look. The sight you see before you was impossible, was unthinkable just three years ago. Only poets dreamt of it and to our great pain, soldiers and civilians went to their deaths to make this moment possible" - those were his words.

Today, my fellow citizens of the world, I ask all of you to take a good hard look at this picture. Look at the leaders from all over the Middle East and around the world who have journeyed here today for Yitzhak Rabin and for peace. Though we no longer hear his deep and booming voice, it is he who has brought us together again here, in word and deed, for peace.

Now it falls to all of us who love peace and all of us who loved him to carry on the struggle to which he gave life and for which he gave his life. He cleared the path. And his spirit continues to light the way. His spirit lives on in the growing peace between Israel and her neighbors. It lives in the eyes of the children, the Jewish and the Arab children, who are leaving behind a past of fear for a future of hope. It lives on in the promise of true security.

So, let me say to the people of Israel - Even in your hour of darkness, his spirit lives on and so you must not lose your spirit. Look at what you have accomplished making a once-barren desert bloom, building a thriving democracy in a hostile terrain, winning battles and wars and now winning the peace which is the only enduring victory.

Your prime minister was a martyr for peace, but he was a victim of hate. Surely, we must learn from his martyrdom that if people cannot let go of the hatred of their enemies, they risk sowing the seeds of hatred among themselves.

I ask you, the people of Israel on behalf of my nation that knows its own long litany of loss from Abraham Lincoln to President Kennedy to Martin Luther King, do not let that happen to you - in the Knesset, in your homes, in your places of worship, stay the righteous course.

As Moses said to the children of Israel when he knew he would not cross over into the Promised Land: "Be strong and of good courage. Fear not, for God will go with you. He will not fail you. He will not forsake you."

President Weizman, Acting Prime Minister Peres, to all the people of Israel, as you stay the course of peace, I make this pledge - Neither will America forsake you.

Legend has it that in every generation of Jews from time immemorial, a just leader emerged to protect his people and show them the way to safety. Prime Minister Rabin was such a leader. He knew, as he declared to the world on the White House lawn two years ago that the time had come, in his words "to begin a new reckoning in the relations between people, between parents tired of war, between children who will not know war...

Acting Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres:

We have not come to cover your grave, we have come to salute you, Yitzhak, for what you were: a valiant soldier, who bequeathed victories to his people: a great dreamer, who forged a new reality in our region.

Last Saturday night, we joined hands and stood side by side. Together we sang "Shir Hashalom - the Song of Peace," and I sensed your exhilaration. You told me that you had been warned of assassination attempts at the huge rally. We didn't know who the assailant would be, nor did we estimate the enormity of the assault. But we knew that we must not fear death and that we cannot be hesitant in seeking peace.

One day earlier, we met privately, as we often did. For the first time, you remarked that the work is arduous, but peace obliges us.

I knew your temperance and consequently your refusal to be swept away, not even by peace. I knew your wisdom and hence your caution against premature disclosures. These were the qualities of a captain and a captain you were since your early adulthood. A daring captain on Israel's battlefields and a great captain in the campaign for peace in the Middle East.

To be a captain is not a light task. And you were not a lighthearted person. Earnestness became second nature to you and responsibility your first. These two traits made you a rare leader, capable of uprooting mountains and blazing trails; of designating a goal and achieving it.

I did no know that these were to be the last hours of our partnership, which knew no bounds. I sensed that a special benevolence had descended upon you, that you could suddenly breathe freely at the sight of the sea of friends who came to support your chosen course and to cheer you.

The peak to which you led us opened wide and from it you could behold the landscape of the new tomorrow, the landscape promised to the new Israel and its youth.

Yitzhak, the youngest of Israel's generals and Yitzhak, the greatest of peacemakers: the suddenness of your passing illuminated the abundance of your accomplishments.

You resembled no one; nor did you seek to emulate anyone. You were not one of the "joyous and merry."

You were one who made great demands - first of yourself and therefore also of others.

You refused to accept failures and you were not intimidated by pinnacles. You knew every detail and you grasped the overall picture. You shaped the details one by one to from great steps, great decisions.

All your life, you worked hard, day and night, but the last three years were unparalleled in their intensity. You promised to change priorities. Indeed, a new order has arrived, a priority of openness.

New crossroads have been opened, new roads paved; unemployment has declined; immigrants have been absorbed; exports have increased and investments expanded; the economy is flourishing; education has doubled; and science has advanced.

And above all, perhaps at the root of it all, the mighty winds of peace have begun to blow.

Two agreements with our neighbors the Palestinians will enable them to hold democratic elections and will free us from the necessity of ruling another people - as you promised.

A warm peace with Jordan invited the great desert between us to become a green promise for both peoples.

The Middle East has reawakened and a coalition of peace is taking shape: a regional coalition supported by a world coalition, to which the leaders of America and Europe, of Asia and Africa, of Australia and of our region standing alongside your fresh grave bear witness.

They came, as we did, to salute you and declare that the course that you began will continue.

This time, Leah is here without you, but the whole nation is with her and with the family.

I see our people in profound shock, with tears in their eyes, but also a people who know that the bullets that murdered you could not murder the idea which you embraced. You did not leave us a last will, but you left us a path on which we will march with conviction and faith. The nation is shedding tears, but these are also tears of unity and spiritual uplifting.

I see our Arab neighbors and to them I say: The course of peace is irreversible. Neither for us, nor for you. Neither we nor you can stop, delay or hesitate when it comes to peace - a peace that must be full and comprehensive, for young and old, for all the peoples.

From here, from Jerusalem, where you were born, the birthplace of the three great religions, let us say in the words of the lamentation of Rachel, who passed away on the very day that you were slain:

"Refrain thy voice from weeping and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded and there is hope for thy future, saith the Lord." (Jeremiah 31: 16-17)

Good-bye, my older brother, hero of peace. We shall continue to bear this great peace, near and far, as you sought during your lifetime, as you charge us with your death.

Noa Ben-Artzi Filosof for Her Grandfather

You will forgive me, for I do not want to talk about peace. I want to talk about my grandfather. One always wakes up from a nightmare. But since yesterday, I have only awakened to a nightmare -- the nightmare of life without you, and this I cannot bear. The television does not stop showing your picture; you are so alive and tangible that I can almost touch you, but it is only "almost" because already I cannot.

Grandfather, you were the pillar of fire before the camp and now we are left as only the camp, alone, in the dark, and it is so cold and sad for us. I know we are talking in terms of a national tragedy, but how can you try to comfort an entire people or include it in your personal pain, when grandmother does not stop crying, and we are mute, feeling the enormous void that is left only by your absence.

Few truly knew you. They can still talk alot about you, but I feel that they know nothing about the depth of the pain, the disaster and, yes, this holocaust, for -- at least for us, the family and the friends, who are left only as the camp, without you -- our pillar of fire.

Grandfather, you were, and still are our, hero. I want you to know that in all I have ever done, I have always seen you before my eyes. Your esteem and love accompanied us in every step and on every path, and we lived in the light of your values. You never abandoned us, and now they have abandoned you -- you, my eternal hero -- cold and lonely, and I can do nothing to save you, you who are so wonderful.

People greater than I have already eulogized you, but none of them was fortunate like myself [to feel] the caress of your warm, soft hands and the warm embrace that was just for us, or your half-smiles which will always say so much, the same smile that is no more, and froze with you. I have no feelings of revenge because my pain and loss are so big, too big. The ground has slipped away from under our feet, and we are trying, somehow, to sit in this empty space that has been left behind, in the meantime, without any particular success. I am incapable of finishing, but it appears that a strange hand, a miserable person, has already finished for me. Having no choice, I part from you, a hero, and ask that you rest in peace, that you think about us and miss us, because we here -- down below -- love you so much. To the angels of heaven that are accompanying you now, I ask that they watch over you, that they guard you well, because you deserve such a guard. We will love you grandfather, always.

Sources: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs