The view from my veranda

Tolerance or Tragedy, November 4th 1995

Dear friends, I wish you a good week, Shevua Tov.


Tolerance is the only way forward. Before you jump down my throat, I’m not advocating tolerating evil, but rather being tolerant toward the thoughts and beliefs of others – to accept the idea that just because people think differently doesn’t mean they are wrong. We a very good at sectionalizing our religious and political identities, putting people into thought boxes; I wish that we could accept each other as long we have the same moral code, why should the way we do things create such animosity?


It’s irrelevant as to whether we’re Democrat or Republican, Likud or Meretz, Labour or Tory; whether Haredi, Orthodox, Conservative, Masorti or Reform – we are Jews; equally in Christianity it’s irrelevant how you pray, whether you are Evangelical or Catholic, Mormon or Presbyterian, your belief in G-d is what counts. Just look at the Islamic world where Sunni kills Shia and vice versa, we mustn’t come to that.


So it is with politics. I am obviously not talking about extremists or fanatics, just those of us who want a fairer society. We go on rallies and support our chosen leader but it doesn’t always work out; one can accept the fact, stop berating the current leader and start a new campaign to support our chosen replacement or risk the very basis of democracy. Danger lurks behind every use of the word hate. Hate kills, hate finds its way to the minds of those who are less than stable and disaster befalls the entire country. If we educate our children to hate those who differ we will lose every semblance of democracy.


The above is a preamble to the anniversary of the assassination of Yitzchak Rabin, a tragedy which split Israeli society as nothing else.


We had the honour of knowing Yitzchak Rabin, visiting the Prime Minister’s home on Balfour Street. In those days there was no real security at the residence and today Balfour Street is closed to traffic with huge iron gates and umpteen armed guards. We were with him in Washington at the opening of the Jerusalem 3000 celebrations just 10 days before his assassination and he invited Zvi, Ehud Olmert and I to a State Department function. With no official invitation we walked in without being searched or checked – such days are long gone. Hatred has changed our world and I don’t only mean the terror groups, I refer to hate speech which takes foul advantage of the right to free speech. We have heard a lot of it in recent days and it is a red flag to democracy.


Incredibly on November 4th it will be 24 years since Yitzchak Rabin’s assassination. Last night there was a large gathering in his memory but for me it is the dreadful date of the 4th of November that I remember.
Just nine days prior we stood listening to him speak before a crowded Rotunda, the Hall linking the Senate and the House, as we celebrated the opening of the United States Jerusalem 3,000 celebrations. The day was especially historic since the previous day, as my husband sat in the gallery, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem!
Just nine days prior to his death I received my last hug from this shy, exceptional man who preferred his “wounded soldier” citizen to the room full of politicians.
Just nine days prior to his death when Israel felt invincible from without and within.
Just nine days before a Jew raised his gun and took away not only a Prime Minister but our innocence and our invincibility.
I find it odd that the left have made him their symbol, although he was far from left-wing; the press has chosen him as their idol although he would have shown them his feet of clay, and the right have vilified him for deeds he never did.
Yitzchak Rabin, son of Rosa Cohen, was the archetypal soldier; Israeli; Sabra; hero; man, his shy disposition and humility are sorely missed.
May his soul rest in peace, his memory be preserved and his prayer for a safe and secure Israel be fulfilled.


Last night, at the huge peace rally in Tel Aviv to commemorate the anniversary of the assassination Blue and White leader Benny Gantz spoke of Yitzchak Rabin and said the magic words “Israel is more important than any leader” words we haven’t heard for too long with a leader who felt his position more important than the good of Israel; Gantz reiterated his plea for tolerance, to hold back on hate speech because, as we learned that fateful night, it can lead to tragedy.


A fascinating look at hate speech by Dvir Kariv and Dov Lipman
Dvir  Kariv, a member of Israel’s Secret Service (Shabak) was the first person to interview Igal Amir, Yitzchak Rabin’s assassin, after that fateful day. Alone in the room Dvir was given the choice of interrogating Amir or killing him. He chose the former. Today Dvir leads a special unit that works with the “Noar Gvahot” the young Jewish fanatics whose hate speech kills


Please, no matter who you vote for or how you pray, hate is not an option.


With love from our veranda, our home, our Jerusalem