On October 31, tens of thousands of people gathered in Tel Aviv to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the assassination of Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
In a pre-recorded speech, Barack Obama addressed the crowd and praised the man who had presided over the Oslo Accords. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who came in person, spoke of the need to respect "the legacy of Rabin," and said that Israelis should "finish" what Rabin started, and choose between "the risk of peace" and "the risk of walking away from it." He added that it was up to the Israelis to take "the right decision."
His comments were well received both by the crowd and the media worldwide as the words of a friend of Israel. Unfortunately, and possibly unwittingly, they were the words of a false friend. They carried deeply harmful inaccuracies that serve only the enemies of Israel, and are, sadly, part of the verbal war against Israel.
Since the death of Yitzhak Rabin, a false legend has taken shape. The legend says that Rabin wanted peace and the rapid creation of a Palestinian state. It adds that Rabin's assassination "killed a hope" that otherwise would have been fulfilled. It accuses all the Israeli prime ministers who succeeded Rabin of failing to complete his mission, and suggests that they did not live up to their task. It also infers that these succeeding Israeli prime ministers are responsible for the failure of all negotiations during the last twenty years. Above all, it exempts the Palestinian leadership from any responsibility.
The reality is quite different.
Undoubtedly, Rabin wanted peace -- virtually all Israelis want peace -- but not at any price. As a General in the Israel Defense Forces, he devoted his entire life to the security of Israel; he did not change his mind in the years before his assassination. He never envisaged the creation of a Palestinian state: the Oslo Accords provided for the establishment of a "provisional self-government," not a state. Rabin rejected explicitly the idea of a "Palestinian state".
Rabin did not contemplate infinite and unconditional negotiations: the Oslo Accords call for a five-year period of negotiations, and include the possibility of breaking off the talks if one of the parties does not respect the spirit in which the Accords were to be implemented. Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasser Arafat violated the Accords on the very first day -- by trying to smuggle into Israel, under the seat of his car, an operative who had been prohibited from entering the country. In addition, Rabin, seeing the rise of violence, wanted during the last weeks of his life to break off the talks.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton, and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat at the Oslo Accords signing ceremony on September 13, 1993. (Image source: Vince Musi / The White House)
Rabin's successors did not break off the talks, as Rabin was planning. His successors went well beyond the five-year period of negotiations initially planned. If the Oslo talks did not live up to their expectations, it was in continuing to pursue the vain and useless negotiations -- exactly the opposite of what Rabin had envisioned.
The failure of negotiations for that last twenty years has in reality come from Palestinian demands, which Rabin had explicitly rejected. Palestinian leaders have called non-stop for eliminating West Bank Jewish communities: in a speech to the Knesset nine days before his death, Rabin said that Israel would never abandon the West Bank Jewish communities. Palestinian leaders have repeatedly said they wanted a return to the 1967 borders (the armistice lines of 1949); in the same speech to the Knesset, Rabin said that Jerusalem, complete and united, was, and would remain, the capital of Israel. Palestinian leaders have ceaselessly demanded the "right of return" of Palestinian "refugees." Rabin stated several times that he rejected the "right of return." No Israeli leader could accept the "return" of six million Arabs -- who four generations later are no longer refugees. Six hundred thousand Arabs left Israel in 1948-49, most of their own accord. Most are long gone. Arabs who stayed within the boundaries of Israel became Israeli citizens (Arabs represent 20% of Israel's population).
In addition, Palestinian leaders have an overwhelming responsibility for what has happened during the last twenty years. Not only have they continued to make the very demands that Rabin rejected -- and that no leader in a comparable situation could ever accept; they have done worse.
Since the creation of the Palestinian Authority, they have used Palestinian schools and the Palestinian media to inculcate hatred for Jews and to incite terrorism and murder against Jews. Despite the Bible and archaeological evidence unearthed daily, Palestinian leaders ceaselessly persist in trying to rewrite history, in order to deny the existence of any historical Jewish presence in the Middle East -- going back thousands of years. Recently, in an act of monumental duplicity, UNESCO colluded with them to declare the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel's Tomb Muslim heritage sites. The Palestinian leadership and media also practice Holocaust denial.
In Germany now, there is apparently a movement to exempt Muslim students from field trips to sites of concentration camps, for fear of disabusing the children of the Jew-hating propaganda they are fed.
Palestinian schoolchildren are also to this day shown only maps on which all of Israel does not exist, and are raised to glorify killers of Jews as heroes and "martyrs." Palestinian schoolchildren are, bluntly, raised to be murderers when they grow up.
Despite nearly century of being constantly attacked, Israeli leaders, although they know what the Palestinian Authority does, have nonetheless continued to negotiate. Netanyahu has repeated many times that he is open to negotiations with no preconditions.
The Israelis have taken huge risks for peace, such as the withdrawals from southern Lebanon and Gaza, often at the cost of their lives. These gestures of good will, to allow the people there the "freedom" from a Jewish presence they said they wanted to be able to build better lives, were seen by the Arabs merely as retreats by the supposedly defeated.
Israel's decision to build the security fence was taken in 2002, after attacks such as the bombing of the Dolphinarium discotheque in Tel Aviv in 2001, and another, two months later, at a pizzeria in Jerusalem.
Israel offered still more "land for peace." In 2001, at the Taba summit, Israel's Prime Pinister Ehud Barak proposed abandoning the Jordan Valley, considered crucial for the defense of Israel. He also proposed a "safe road crossing" between Gaza and the West Bank, a route that would have bisected Israel. Later, in 2008, Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he was ready to give up Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism.
Anyone now saying that Israelis have a choice between the "risk of peace" and the "risk to walk away from it" is sadly either idiotic or a liar. Israel cannot make peace, because there is no one to make peace with.
This stalemate is further compounded by people who seem to have a salivating appetite for Jewish blood.
Palestinian leaders have made other choices. They not only submitted to UNESCO a resolution that succeeded in relabeling ancient, indisputably Jewish, heritage sites -- Rachel's Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs -- as Muslim; they also tried to have the Western Wall -- all that is left of the Jews' Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE -- named part of the Islamic Al Aqsa Mosque compound (known as the Temple Mount). That effort, at least, was rejected. The same week, the Palestinian Authority security services -- not Hamas -- stood by as Joseph's Tomb, which they are required to protect, was set on fire by a Palestinian mob.
Borrowing a pretext used to launch anti-Jewish pogroms in 1929 by Haj Amin al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem and later also a friend of Adolf Hitler, Abbas falsely accused Israel of wanting to change the status quo of the Temple Mount, and called for the killing of Jews in the name of Allah: "We bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem ... Every martyr will reach Paradise and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah," he said.
Just as people in Paris were murdered one day last week, Jews in Israel are murdered virtually every day.
When Israel returns bodies of the dead murderers to their families, the Palestinian Authority holds official funerals in their honor, calls the murderers shaheed [martyrs], and then falsely accuses Israel of harvesting organs.
As a result of Palestinian Authority indoctrination, today more than 80% of the Arab population under its control approves of terrorist attacks against Jews.
It is hard to know what this "good decision" that Israelis are supposed to make would look like. The international community, in line with Hitler's friend, the former Mufti of Jerusalem, appears to keep calling -- through recognitions of a state of "Palestine" and boycotts deep down aimed at destroying Israel -- for Israel to surrender. One hopes the French will not surrender to terrorists; neither should the Israelis.
Peace implies conditions. One of the first is that those with whom a country intends to make peace also want to make peace. Nothing, however, indicates that Palestinian leaders have the slightest intention of making anything that even resembles peace.
Another condition for peace is that those with whom a country intends to make peace do not incite the people they rule to hatred and war. The Palestinian leadership has never stopped firing up Palestinian Arabs to hatred, murder and war.
A third condition for peace is that those with whom a country is supposed to make peace have a minimal legitimacy and a minimal capacity to administer a country in a civilized way.
People ruled by the Palestinian Authority have been so fired up to hatred, murder and war that, at this point, many consider the Palestinian Authority too moderate. Mahmoud Abbas is in the eleventh year of his four-year term. If elections were held today, all indications are that Hamas would win handily.
Hamas, incidentally, has always been refreshingly open about having no intention of negotiating -- ever.
Western leaders who visit Israel and speak of "peace" might start to sound sincere if they would start to speak the truth, and stop trying to bamboozle themselves and everyone around them.
President Clinton, who used to be a true friend, did not speak the truth in Tel Aviv, even though, after his failed negotiations with Arafat, he should have known better. Instead of defending the legacy of Rabin, he betrayed it. Clinton did not even say a single word about the Jews murdered in recent days in Israel.
Because no one has said a single word about the Jews murdered, or about what is really going on inside Israel, the false myth about Rabin has replaced reality. For most of the evening, the ceremony in Tel Aviv did not pay tribute to Yitzhak Rabin -- it murdered him again.
European leaders also vacuously condemn "all acts of violence." The Western mainstream media even claim as victims the Palestinians who have been killed while in the act of committing murder. The media sentimentally refer to them as the "victims of violence."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on October 4 that "violence in the region" showed "the urgency of the implementation of the vision of Rabin." Like President Clinton, he attributed to Rabin a vision that was uninformed, totally false, and ended up making himself look, as usual, pathetic.
Those assembled were hoping for peace. If they look around, they see nothing but the many faces of Jew-hate. If they think it is the fault of the Israeli government, they should listen again to what Palestinian leaders are openly saying every day.
Rabin was no myopic dreamer. He saw the Oslo Accords for the hoax the Palestinians have unfortunately made of them. It is high time for other leaders to see it, too.
Guy Millière is a Professor at the University of Paris, and the author of 27 books on France, Europe and the United States. He is also the author of countless articles published internationally and is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.