Yitzhak Rabin, a Life in Photographs

In honor of the 20th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination, a selection of annotated photographs from his public, and private, life.

Reuters

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the murder, on November 4, 1995, of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Below, Haaretz presents, through images, milestones in the life of the man who waged war and made peace, before being felled by an assassin's bullets.

Hans Pinn/GPO

November 28, 1948. Yitzhak Rabin, only 26 in this photo, began his military career in 1941, when he joined the Palmach, the elite strike force of the pre-state underground militia the Haganah. When the War of Independence broke out, in 1948, Rabin was appointed commander of the newly established Harel Brigade. In this photo Rabin, already in command of the brigade, is sitting on the right, next to the Israel Defense Forces head of operations during the war, Yigael Yadin, and the commander of the Palmach, Yigal Allon (center).

Cohen Fritz/GPO

October 2, 1966. Rabin was named IDF chief of staff at the beginning of 1964. Three and a half years later, on June 5, 1967, Rabin was in charge as the IDF launched the series of surprise airstrikes on Egyptian airfields that marked the start of the Six-Day War. In this photo, Rabin is congratulating Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, on his 80th birthday at his home in Sde Boker.

AP

March 1, 1973. After leaving the army, Rabin was Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 1968 to 1973. In this photo, taken at the White House a short time before Rabin’s return to Israel and about six months before the Yom Kippur War, Rabin is seen sitting next to U.S. President Richard Nixon and Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, who is visiting Washington. Also present were National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, incoming Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz and Brent Scowcroft, than an assistant to Kissinger. After his return to Israel in 1974, Rabin (now minister of transportation) was elected head of the Labor Party, after the resignation of Meir, whom he succeeded as prime minister; he was sworn in on June 3, 1974.

AFP

December 6, 1974. Rabin is seen here six months after taking office as prime minister for the first time, together with his wife Leah Rabin, at the circumcision of their grandson in Tel Aviv. His first term would end prematurely three years later, when Rabin resigned from office in the wake of a report in Haaretz that Leah Rabin maintained a bank account in the United States, in violation of Israeli law at the time.

AP

June 24, 1992. Rabin’s resignation in 1977 marked the start of over two decades in which, for the first time in Israeli history, the right-wing Likud party was in power. But in 1992, after an election campaign that presented Rabin as the great hope of the left, Labor returned to government with a landslide victory. In this photo, Rabin is giving his election night victory speech to supporters at a Tel Aviv hotel, next to his wife Leah.

Reuters

September 13, 1993. After his 1992 election win, Rabin immediately began peace negotiations with Syria and the Palestine Liberation Organization. In this historic photo taken a year later, U.S. President Bill Clinton is seen standing between Rabin and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, right, as they shake hands at the White House after signing the Oslo Accords granting Palestinian autonomy in the occupied territories. The Oslo Accords inspired hope in many Israelis, but were heavily criticized by the Israeli right, and in particular by nationalist extremists who opposed any Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. Two years later, the Israeli Jewish extremist Yigal Amir would murder Rabin in hopes of stopping the implementations of the Oslo Accords and halting the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians.

Yaakov Saar / GPO

October 26 1994. Shortly after signing the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan at the Arava border crossing, Jordan’s King Hussein lit Rabin’s cigarette at his royal residence in Aqaba. Two months later Rabin received the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, together with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat.    

AFP

November 4, 1995. This iconic image is immediately recognized by most Israelis over the age of 30: Rabin is seen here being pushed into a car by security personnel after he was shot by Israeli extremist Yigal Amir on the steps of Tel Aviv City Hall, after a rally in the adjacent Malkhei Yisrael Square in support of the Oslo Accords. Rabin was taken to Ichilov Hospital, not far from city hall, and he died on the operating table some 40 minutes later. The name of Malkhei Yisrael (“kings of Israel”) Square was later changed to Rabin Square, to honor the late premier and his legacy. For months after the murder teenagers regularly filled the square, where they sat in circles, singing songs of mourning and talking about Rabin. The teens were collectively dubbed the “candle youth,” for the vast numbers of memorial candles they lit throughout the square.

Gil Cohen Magen