Yitzhak Rabin would have been 101 years old today

On March 1st, 1922, Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s 5th Prime Minister who served two non-consecutive terms, was born in Jerusalem to parents who came to Israel from the former Russia Empure during what is now known as the “Third Aliyah” Zionist immigration to Israel. He was the first Israeli Prime Minister to be born in the land of Israel, carrying a birth certificate from the British Mandate for Palestine.

Rabin, considered to be both a great military leader and a peace-seeking individual, played a significant role in all of Israel’s history, until his assassination. He enlisted into the pre-state “Palmach” militant organization and served as a commanding officer in the 1948 Israeli Independence War. During the 1948 war, he fought in the Jerusalem area, defending the city from Arab invaders. 

As Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces in the 1960s, he carefully planned Israel’s participation in the June 1967 Six Day War and was a key instrument in the liberation of the Old City of Jerusalem from the hands of the Jordanian army. Due to his contributions to protecting the Jewish presence in Jerusalem, he was given the title “Defender of Jerusalem” After the Six-Day War, he entered the political arena and was appointed Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, living in Washington DC until 1973.

After his return, Rabin was elected to the Knesset and became a member of Golda Meir’s left-leaning Cabinet, serving as Minister of Labor. When Meir resigned in 1974 due to post-Yom Kippur war pressures, Rabin became Prime Minister. A 1977 fiscal scandal, involving his wife’s foreign bank account, forced him to withdraw as party leader and “retire” from the government.

During his first term as Prime Minister, Israel signed an interim armistice agreement with Syria in May 1974 and one with Egypt in 1975 leading to the eventual first Peace agreement with an Arab nation. Rabin also ordered the rescue of Israeli, Jewish, and other hostages from Entebbe in Uganda in 1976, a mission led by current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s brother, Yoni Netanyahu.  Rabin would continue to serve as a member of the Knesset and as Minister of Defense from 1984-1990.

In 1992, he once again assumed leadership of the Labor party and became Prime Minister in June after a tense election campaign. During his second term in office, Rabin began negotiations with the PLO which led to the Oslo Agreements, and in 1994, he forged a peace treaty with Jordan’s King Hussein; awarding him with the Nobel Peace Prize along with the Hashemite king and Shimon Peres.  Rabin was assassinated on November 4, 1995, by an extremist Israeli terrorist, Yigal Amir, who was sentenced to life in prison.

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