As a consistent supporter of the Middle East peace process of the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and his partner and successor, Shimon Peres, I always warned my congregation that the process would be difficult - indeed painful - and that extremists would do everything that they could to sabotage it. Never did I imagine, however, that Israeli extremists would resort to assassination. Looking back, the signs had been there all along. Nevertheless, I and so many others just refused to believe that an Israeli Jew, a yeshiva graduate and a student at Bar Ilan, would murder in cold blood the prime minister of Israel. Who wanted to believe that the violent rhetoric of extremists, including rabbis and politicians on both sides of the Atlantic, and the screaming, yellow-journalistic headlines of certain Jewish tabloids out of Brooklyn and elsewhere would actually lead to violent action. But it did. Prime Minister Rabin, a sabra and a war hero, was second to none in his concern for the security of his country. Shame on all of those, especially those who live outside of Israel, who impugned his patriotism and who vilified him in the meanest of terms. Those people have the blood of Yitzhak Rabin on their hands, because they created the atmosphere and gave the heter - permission - to the murderer. Prime Minister Rabin was all-too-aware of the violence that encompassed him. He spoke about it, in fact, in his very last speech on the night of his murder. Allow me to share some of his words with you now: "I have always believed that the majority of the people want peace and are ready to take risks for peace. In coming here today, you demonstrate, together with many others who did not come, that the people truly desire peace and oppose violence. Violence erodes the basis of Israeli democracy. It must be condemned and isolated. This is not the way of the State of Israel. In a democracy there can be differences, but the final decision will be taken in democratic elections, as the 1992 elections which gave us the mandate to do what we are doing, and to continue on this course." Those were words of prophecy. They must be heeded.
Yesterday, I sent the following message to the Rabin Family:
To Mrs. Yitzhak Rabin and Family, On behalf of my family, myself, and my synagogue, I wish to extend my condolences to you on the death of your dear husband, father, grandfather, and our hero, Yitzhak Rabin. I was especially moved by Noa's words, because she reminded us that he was not just a war hero, statesman and peacemaker, but above all, a family man who will be greatly missed. I always admired your husband's simplicity, straightforwardness, and analytical thinking. His was a steady hand that guided Israel through the challenges of the peace process. His good work will endure.
My friends, I am still in a state of shock, disbelief, sadness and loss. I seek your comfort, just as you seek ours. I call tonight for revenge, but revenge of a different type. The sweetest type of revenge would be the pursuit of the Peace Process and the fulfillment of Yitzhak Rabin's dreams. That's what the majority of Israelis want. We in the Diaspora owe them our support.
Permit me to conclude with a portion from this week's Torah reading. President Clinton in his eulogy referred to the Binding of Isaac. But I want to call your attention to the less-well-known verses of the previous chapter. There, Avraham concluded a peace treaty with Avimelekh, the King of the Palestinians of long ago. A few chapters later, Isaac - Yitzhak - renewed that peace treaty.
In the spirit of Avraham and Yitzhak, let us be resolved to renew the legacy of Yitzhak Rabin in the pursuit of peace and security for Israel. Amen.