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The night Rabin was murdered


Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin – the odd couple
Uri Avnery Social activist
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So we arrived at the fact that Arafat came to Israel and there were meetings with him, and little by little… no, first of all, there was the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. The evening that Rabin was assassinated was a very, very strange evening for me. That's it − I met with Rabin once, twice, three times after that, after he'd explained to me how he'd arrived at Oslo, and then there were all these stories about the famous handshake − this photograph – that it was obvious that he didn't want to do it, and so on and so forth… Nonsense!  He did it quite consciously after making the decision, quite a firm decision, and quite strangely Rabin and Arafat, both of whom I knew quite well… I can't imagine two people who were more different than those two. Rabin was introverted, logical, he used no hand gestures, had no small talk, was determined, dry and totally unimaginative. Facing him, Arafat − completely extroverted, effusive, hugging, kissing, gesticulating, all of his policies were made with gestures, very emotional. Those two met and somehow they liked each other, but it was gradual until Rabin invited him to his home. I think what drew them to each other was one characteristic which is very valuable in politics and that is the ability to make decisions: both of them were men who could make a decision. Arafat made them immediately, on the spot, within seconds. It took longer for Rabin, he had to consider and ponder but in the end he reached his decision. That's it.

אז הגענו לזה שערפאת בא לארץ והיו פגישות אתו, ולאט לאט… לא, קודם כל היה רצח רבין. הערב של רצח רבין היה אצלי ערב מאוד מאוד מאוד משונה. זהו, אז אני נפגשתי עם רבין פעם, פעמיים, שלוש גם אחרי זה, אחרי שהוא הסביר לי איך הוא הגיע לאוסלו, והרי היו את כל הסיפורים האלה שכאילו לחיצת היד המפורסמת, התמונה עומדת פה, שהיה ניכר שהוא עושה את זה בלי רצון וכל זה, שטויות! הוא עשה את זה בהכרה מלאה אחרי שהחליט בהחלטה נחושה, ובצורה די מוזרה רבין וערפאת, שאת שניהם הכרתי די טוב, ואני לא מעלה על דעתי שני אנשים יותר שונים זה מזה מאשר שניים אלה. רבין מופנם, הגיוני, בלי מחוות, בלי סמול טוק, מכוון למטרה, יבש, נטול דמיון לגמרי. ומולו ערפאת – מוחצן לחלוטין, שופע, מחבק, מנשק, פועל באמצעות מחוות, כל המדיניות שלו נעשית באמצעות מחוות, אמוציונאלי מאוד, ושניים אלה באו יחד אבל הם מצאו חן אחד בעיניי השני בהדרגה, עד שרבין הזמין אותו הביתה אליו. ואני חושב שמה שקירב אותם היה תכונה אחת מאוד מאוד יקרה בפוליטיקה וזה כושר ההחלטה – שניהם היו אנשים שהיו מסוגלים להחליט: ערפאת מיד, במקום. ערפאת קיבל כל החלטה תוך שניות. אצל רבין זה נמשך, התלבט וזה אבל בסוף הוא החליט.‏

Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including '1948: A Soldier's Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem' (2008); 'Israel's Vicious Circle' (2008); and 'My Friend, the Enemy' (1986).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: Oslo Accords, Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin

Duration: 2 minutes, 46 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017