Yitzchak Rabin’s legacy actually starts with his mother’s legacy. A few months ago, my son attended a lecture by Ezra Yachin who, at the age of 94, as one of the last remaining members of the Stern Gang, feels duty-bound to write and speak about those times and those people. He told of a friend who just arrived in Israel illegally from Europe. He participated in an Irgun demonstration against the British. A group of secular Leftists came and beat the demonstrators with sticks, including Yachin’s friend.
One of them was Yitzchak Rabin’s mother.
I can’t remember much about the biography I only started reading but never finished, but I do remember the description of Yitzchak Rabin as a 5-year-old coming home to….nothing. His mother was home, but she was busy holding Communist meetings with her colleagues. Communism values workers, not little Jewish children in need of maternal nurturing. Despite the heartless steam roller he later became, it’s hard to forget the image of little solitary unloved Yitzchak and so many neglected children of the Leftist kibbutzim of that time.
The Battle of Nebi Samwil, June 1948
In April 1948, Rabin was supposed to command an attack on the enemy village of Nebi Samwil (Shmuel Hanavi) in a self-defense effort to stop the Arabs from attacking Yerushalayim. Unfortunately, Rabin went to sleep in a hotel and never showed up. His abandonment of his troops, along with the disorganized communication and poor management by his fellow commanders, led to a harmful retreat and a great loss of Jewish life. To the horror of the remaining soldiers, orders were given to abandon the wounded. The Arab fighters desecrated the Jewish dead and tortured the helpless wounded to death.
The Altalena, April 1948
It isn’t known whether Rabin gave the order or was actually the one who actually fired on the Altalena in June 1948, but it was another act typical of extreme Leftists – they didn’t want the Irgun to have guns. Ben-Gurion (Haganah) got Begin (Irgun) to agree to take only 20% of the weapons delivered on the ship with the fledgling Israeli army (Haganah) taking the other 80%. But Ben-Gurion back-paddled at the last minute and sent the arriving ship a threatening message: They needed to turn over ALL their arms "to me." The passengers waved white flags and the Irgun arranged a ceasefire with Haganah – a ceasefire which Rabin and his crew refused to honor. (Perhaps this is why he and his fellow Leftists weren't bothered by the Arabs breaking their agreements and ceasefires with Israel.) They even shot fellow Jews in the water.
The “Piece” Process
During his second term as Prime Minister, the suicide bombings reached their peak. Dati-leumi rabbanim spoke out against Rabin – not threats, but merely expressing an opposing opinion – and they would be arrested soon after. A Russian staff member at Neve Yerushalayim College for Women exclaimed, “This is just what it was like in Russia! No freedom of speech! Rabbis arrested!”
Not surprising, considering Rabin’s Communist upbringing.
And Rabin kept making concessions even as each bow to the Arab demands meant another flood of glass shards, blood, scattered body parts, and internal organs scarred with bolts and screws.
I felt like Rabin was driving a steam roller down a road full of precious Jews who were trying to flee out of the way, but not everyone could escape in time. People were screaming, “Stop! Stop!” But Rabin didn’t even slow down. He just kept steam-rolling forward while robotically chanting, “Sacrifices for peace, sacrifices for peace.”
Words can’t describe how horrible it was.
I remember skimming along Neve’s pretty campus one day, when I something felt "off" and I stopped, waiting. I’d always heard of tension being described as so thick, you could cut it with a knife, but I’d never felt such a thing before. I always thought it was just a colorful description. But now, on the top of a hill far from the terror attacks, I could actually feel the tension, almost like a tangible thing.
A friend and I were at Kever Rachel for the first time in our lives when a woman went running through the crowd crying, “They shot him! They killed him!”
Oy, I thought, the poor woman must be remembering some huge trauma she went through. I started davening harder for an end to all suffering.
Walking back to the bus, we overheard people talking about someone shot, someone killed. I heard Rabin’s name. Finally, we passed by some dati-leumi girls and one said soberly to the others, “Rabin is dead.”
I stopped and one of the girl's gasped, "He's dead?!" And a crazy laugh burst from her. The solemn girl looked at her and said, “It’s not funny.” The second girl immediately clapped her hands over her mouth, but a strangled giggle still escaped.
I understood her. She wasn’t amused or happy, it was a burst of relief. Many of us felt the same way.
It was over. The heartless giant steam roller had finally been stopped.
Sitting at a bus stop in Geula on the way back, a man in a white van stopped in front of us and declared, "Rejoice! He's dead." Then he sped off.
The chareidi woman sitting next to me exploded. "How can he talk like that?! It's wrong, it's so wrong!" And so on. Her friend murmured soothingly, "Nu, nu, you know how he feels. It's been hard for all of us. And now it's finally over."
"Of course I've been just as upset as everyone else, but to rejoice over the death of a fellow Jew?!"
When we got back to the dorm, a group of us got together to say Tehillim. We'd learned that Gehinnom was worse than anything we could ever imagine. Even without knowing his past crimes, we figured that Rabin was now in a lot of trouble with the Heavenly Beit Din and we would do our part by saying a few prayers on his behalf.
The next day, we heard more about what happened: the 45-minute drive to a hospital 10 minutes away, the cries of “Empty bullets!”, and so on.
Rabin’s True Legacy
Years later, Rebbetzin Heller told of the time she spoke to a group of women during which she mentioned her opinion about Rabin.
Suddenly, an older lady cried out, “WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE?”
“Excuse me?” said Rebbetzin Heller.
“Who are you to judge?” repeated the lady. “I was there. I grew up in his kibbutz. You have no idea what it was like. If you’d been there, you would have turned out no different than him.”
The thing is, despite this lady having grown up on that kibbutz, she still found herself in a Torah class. Rabin never did.
Rabin’s real legacy is his demonstration of the depths to which a Jew can sink if he commits himself to any “ism” other than Judaism.
Some of Dr. Uri Milstein’s writings have been translated into English and he is a great resource for understanding the truth behind many of modern Israel's so-called “heroic leaders.”