Sunday, October 18, 2015

Book #42: In the Name of Sorrow and Hope

I've had this book on my shelf for nearly 20 years. Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin's granddaughter Noa wrote it the year following his assassination at the hands of a right-wing Israeli extremist after a peace rally in Tel Aviv in November 1995. She was 19.

Had I read it when it first came out, it would have been a very different experience. Then, I wouldn't have known what the next 20 years would bring, like I do now.

"I cannot answer all the questions I am asked, nor even those I ask myself," Noa writes. "I do not want to address 'What if . . .?' questions. Saba [Rabin] hated that sort of speculation. He always said that one should confront reality as it is and respond to the challenges it offers."

I can't help but wonder, though, what would have happened with Israeli-Palestinian relations if Rabin hadn't been assassinated.

What if he had been able to continue with the peace process he had been engaged in? What if, despite real and challenging setbacks, he had ultimately been able to keep internal opposition at bay? What if he had held onto his position as Prime Minister long enough to give peace a chance to take hold?

Yes, yes, what if questions are futile.

And so I will ask these questions instead: Why are genuine peacemakers the kind of leaders who are most at risk in our world? Why are too many of us not ready for them? Can we change that? How?

When you died, Israel stopped to catch its breath . . . if you could see, Yitzhak, if I could tell you everything that's been happening in the country this past week, you wouldn't believe me. . . . Thousands of people have been coming from all four corners of the world, Jews, Muslims, Christians . . . can you believe it? Please believe me. -  Leah Rabin at her husband's burial

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