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Yitzhak Rabin: Soldier, Leader, Statesman (Jewish Lives) Hardcover – March 5, 2017
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"Rabinovich’s language—lean, precise, devoid of embellishment—reminds me of the way Rabin himself used to talk: dugri, as we say in Hebrew, straightforward, to the point. . . . In an era when language is being abused for political purposes and agendas, Rabinovich’s book is a breath of fresh air."—Uri Dromi, Times Literary Supplement
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Rabinovitch is at his best in the section on Rabin’s assassination and its aftermath. A number of people both within and outside of Israel believed that the heated rhetoric over the Oslo Accords, especially from the West Bank settlers and the religious right, would likely result in an attempt on Rabin’s life. A number of Israelis put the “Land of Israel” above the “State of Israel.” They labeled Rabin a traitor to Israel and the Jewish people, even sanctioning his murder based on an old Jewish law. Likud politician Benjamin Netanyahu (the current prime minister) poured gasoline on the fire, but after Rabin’s assassination, he distanced himself from any blame for helping create this volatile atmosphere. The assassin was a religious radical. The investigation of the assassination, however, ignored the assassin’s religious and political views, concentrating instead on the security lapses.
Peres became prime minister and continued peace talks with the Palestinians and Syria. Instead of having an immediate election, he waited six months. Two weeks before the vote, Hamas attacks killed nearly 60 Israelis in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, convincing many Israelis that the Palestinians could not be trusted to police their own people. These acts of terror returned Likud to power, the country began a move to the right, and the peace process was gradually discarded. Peace today is much harder to achieve than in 1995 because West Bank settlements have expanded and new ones have been added. The author concludes that Rabin’s death was a watershed for Israel because in the end “the assassin and his camp were in fact rewarded for the crime.” (239)
I would have liked to have seen more citations. Two points here. First, in the “Acknowledgments” the author mentions “the benefit of personal interviews and conversations with a large number  of individuals.” (252) These interviews are only referenced in one endnote. Thus, how did these interviews benefit Rabinovitch? Second, in the section on the Entebbe raid (128-32), only two sources are cited—Rabin Memoirs and Amos Shifris’ Rabin’s First Government, 1974-1977. Surely a biography of Peres or Yoni Netanyahu (the only IDF fatality at Entebbe) or Saul David’s Operation Thunderbolt could have added something to this section. Nevertheless, this concern does not detract from an otherwise first-rate biography of Rabin. If I could, I would give the book 4.5 stars, but since the choice is a 4 or 5, I went with 4.
This biography of the Israeli persona, an account of Mr. Rabin’s career and life as a solider and statesman. Mr. Rabinovich worked with Mr. Rabin late in his career and even held the same post, that of Israel’s ambassador to the United States.
The book’s most impressive part comes as a first-person account of Mr. Rabin’s second term as the Israeli Prime Minister. The author was witness to history and his narrative is fascinating, the insights are thoughtful , and the deductions are enlightening.
I still remember the day that Mr. Rabin passed away from an assassin’s bullet. I was not in Israel, but on a comfortable couch in New Jersey, however I felt as if I was in another world. After all Israel, “the light to be cast unto the nations” as David Ben-Gurion (Israel’s first Prime Minister) said, is not a country where political leaders are assassinated. At the time no one understood how such a tragedy could happen. A Jewish Prime Minister, assassinated by a Jewish man, in a Jewish state, surrounded by bodyguards and an adoring crowd.
Mr. Rabinovich wrote an outstanding summary which attempts to inform the reader of the complex circumstances which allowed a man to feel as if he was permitted to pull the trigger and murder a person in cold blood. Putting his emotions to the side, the author’s analysis is straightforward and thoughtful.
The author talks about Mr. Rabin’s many achievements, as well as his failures, his personality traits (both positive and negative), and the person he was, not just the public figure. The book is engrossing and an important primary source for future generations to study.