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PM's Speech at the memorial of Yitzhak Rabin חיים צח, לע"מ
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PM's Speech at the memorial of Yitzhak Rabin

05 November 2014

"I met an hour ago with members of the Rabin family, and I told them that the trauma of Yitzhak Rabin's murder is an enormous and historic one. Enormous first of all for our generation, those who knew Yitzhak Rabin, because of the extraordinary combination of the man and the position; historically because for thousands of years the history of the Jewish people was nearly devoid of political violence or political assassinations.

We were always proud of our democracy, which is unusual in the landscape that surrounds us, and indeed the State of Israel is not a violent country. We see this clearly in light of what is occurring around us - beheadings, throats being cut, firing squads, executions, and so on.

Israel's exceptional nature in this landscape is remarkable. We are not satisfied just by not adopting such low standards; we are a democracy and we must conduct dialogue in a non-violent fashion despite disagreements. There are disagreements. This need to avoid political violence and assassinations is a need that will only increase as the attacks from without and even from within increase. The State of Israel's achievement in preserving its democracy even when attacked in a manner no other country in the world is attacked is enormous, but this achievement is constantly being tested. As the attacks increase, the argument will grow more heated. As the argument grows more heated, we must cool it down, keep it within agreed-upon boundaries.

We have a foundation of unity. We witnessed it last summer during Operation Protective Edge. The nation came together to save lives. We are unified around our desire to preserve our own country. I hope we have a foundation of unity for preserving our city of Jerusalem, our eternal capital. We have a base of unity, I also hope, for the understanding that security is the foundation for our existence and it is also the foundation for peace. It can only be thus in our region because any agreement that is not based on security will not last. Paper alone does not keep the peace.

I believe that these things were clear to Yitzhak Rabin. One can rehash historic arguments, but any intelligent person understands the centrality of security to our way of life and hopes, and also to our existence and to creating peace with our neighbors. Israel's security was always the focus of Yitzhak Rabin's public activity. He was appointed Chief of General Staff in 1964 and worked to strengthen the IDF and build up our military force. To a large extent, he prepared the IDF for its historic victory in the Six Day War.

When serving as the US Ambassador and during his first term as Prime Minister, he clarified that the solution to the conflict with the Arabs would only come after they were convinced that Israel would not be subdued by military force. I believe that this approached paved the way to peace. He said, 'Without defensive strength, there is no security and no chance for peace.'

This strategy continued throughout his second term as Prime Minister. Rabin wanted to base peace on mutual compromise while maintaining Israel's security. I knew him to be a realistic, pragmatic man. He read the map of the Middle East quite clearly and he knew that there was not nor would there be peace without security. He said so. 'Even if and when peace comes, the IDF will always be a central anchor for our existence, on the shoulders of which peace will rest and the legs which will help it walk.'

Rabin knew that Israel was taking risks for peace, but he hoped that the Palestinians would repay us in kind, that they would educate their people for peace and stop the incitement against Israel, which is at the base of hostility and terror. But this did not happen. The incitement continued and even increased. There was no change in Palestinian society regarding the right of the Jewish people to its own country - not in kindergartens, not in schools, not in textbooks, not in the government-run media - which is the only media there - not anywhere. There was certainly no acceptance of our rights in unified Jerusalem, which Rabin viewed as fundamental to any peace agreement.

Over the past several days, we have witnessed increasing incitement by the head of the Palestinian Authority, including sending a condolence letter to the family of Yehuda Glick's assassin, and a call to prevent the entry of Jews onto the Temple Mount by any means. This incitement has found practical expression on the ground. Today's terrorist attack in Jerusalem is the direct result of the incitement by Abu Mazen and his Hamas partners.

We are in the midst of a prolonged campaign for Jerusalem. I have no doubt we will win it. We are utilizing all the forces needed to restore quiet and security to all parts of the city, but it may certainly be a prolonged fight and we must join together all the powers in our country for the fight. This fight is not just against internal Palestinian incitement, but also against the tide of Islamist extremism, extremism that is spreading over the Middle East and to wide areas beyond it.

This is an historic phenomenon that is tied to the end of the Cold War, the shocks experienced by the Arab world and the rise of Islamist forces to positions of power. If I must pick a decisive date this change took place, it would of course be the rise of the Islamic state in Iran 35 years ago. The fanaticism of this Islamic extremism is the greatest danger to our country, to our region and to world peace.

Yitzhak Rabin clearly identified this danger. In December 1992 he said the following at the Knesset: 'Our fight against Islamic terror and other terror is also meant to wake the slumbering world, especially with regard to the danger of fundamentalist Islam. It is the real danger and the most serious one to world peace in the coming years. The danger of death lurks at the feet of many peoples, and as the State of Israel was the first to identify the danger of a nuclear Iraq, so we are first on the line of fire today in the face of the danger posed by extremist Islam.'

Rabin mentioned Iran many times and warned against its nuclear ambitions. He had an expression he repeated many times: 'Khomeinism without Khomeini', a phenomenon he perceived to be, as he put it, 'the main axis that characterizes the wave of terrorist Islamic extremism.' He saw all this. He hoped that the steps being taken would create an island of peace inside this violent ocean. We all share this hope, but we are not averting our gaze and ignoring what is happening around us.

Our region is undergoing an enormous convulsion. When regimes collapse, borders are erased, countries disintegrate and armed militias surround us, it is advisable that we understand that genuine peace, peace that will last for generations, the peace we all want - this peace will not be achieved through shortcuts or wishes. Genuine peace will come when the squares in Ramallah and Gaza named after terrorists and considered martyrs will be filled with protestors calling for the abandonment of terror. It will come when moderate Islam overcomes extremist Islamic fundamentalists. It will come when Iran stops calling 'Death to Israel' and they turn their efforts toward respecting human rights and individual freedoms. The exact opposite is occurring in Iran today. Peace will come when Abu Mazen stops calling Jews 'defilers' and he stops embracing murderers.

Yitzhak Rabin was proud of the State of Israel - of its development, of its achievements. He believed in our ability to overcome all difficulties. He believed in our capability to deal with difficulties, to face complex challenges, with unparalleled success. We also believe in these capabilities. We will continue to rely on our power in order to strengthen our security; we will continue to extend our hand for genuine peace with our neighbors; we will build our country and our cities; and, with God's help, we will know days of tranquility.

May the memory of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin be forever blessed."