'What my friend Rabin understood'
Throughout history, human beings have found meaning in our lives through positive identification with what we know: our family, our tribe, our community, our nation, our culture, our politics, our religion - and by negative reference to "others."
In the 21st century, as our world grows increasingly interdependent, and local challenges and opportunities relate increasingly to the groups we once knew as "them," the walls that divide us are getting thinner, less important, and ever more transparent. We are compelled to expand the definition of who is "us," and shrink the definition of who is "them" - to understand that, as important as our differences are, our common humanity matters more. The inability to embrace this fundamental value lies at the heart of peace and conflict throughout the world today, and of course in the Middle East.
Yitzhak Rabin understood this. My friend knew that the Middle East is highly interdependent, that there could be no final military victory: it would come only through peace and reconciliation based on our shared humanity. He worked tirelessly to forge a just, secure, and lasting peace with the Palestinians, and his ultimate sacrifice proved it.
While the events of the last several years have delayed the dream for which Yitzhak Rabin sacrificed his life, they in no way undermine the logic of his vision, the power of his faith, or the beauty of his gifts to us. Since his life was taken, we have seen the resolution of seemingly intractable conflicts in other regions of the world. In each instance, the parties decided that their interdependence compelled them to lay down their arms and embrace a concept of security through dialogue and cooperation, based on respect for our interesting differences, and the possibility of cooperation rooted in shared values, shared benefits, and shared responsibilities.
No one was more committed to the security of Israel than Yitzhak Rabin. No one understood better that maintaining that security requires a resolution of the conflict with the Palestinians, and a commitment to share a peaceful future with them.
In this spirit, the words of the late King Hussein at Yitzhak Rabin's funeral resound as powerfully today as they did several years ago:
"Let us not keep silent. Let our voices raise high to speak of our commitment to peace for all times to come. And let us tell those who live in darkness, who are the enemies of life and true faith, this is where we stand. This is our camp."
We must remember and honor both Yitzhak Rabin and his mission. The future must belong not to those who live in darkness, but to those who stand with Yitzhak Rabin for life and peace.
This article will appear in Middle East Bulletin, a newsletter published by Middle East Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress. www.middleeastprogress.org.
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