Yitzhak Rabin, 1967
A 1967 photograph of IDF Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin led the IDF in the Six Day War of 1967. He is photographed here in full military uniform. After leaving the army, he entered politics where he served two terms of office as prime minister. Rabin was assassinated in 1995 by a Jewish extremist who opposed his policies of peace.
Born in Jerusalem in 1922, Yitzhak Rabin grew up in Tel Aviv in a Labour-Zionist household. He attended an agricultural school and after graduating, he volunteered for the Palmach, the commando unit of the Haganah, the underground army of the Jewish community during the British Mandate. After the establishment of the State in 1948, Rabin joined the IDF where he served for twenty-seven years, culminating in the position of chief of staff and leading the IDF to victory in the Six Day War.
Rabin became active in the Labour Party and was elected to the Knesset in 1973, and in 1974, following the collapse of Golda Meir's short-lived government, he became prime minister until the government was dissolved in 1977 and the Labour Party defeated. After serving as minister of defence from 1984-1990, Rabin was elected chair of the Labour Party in 1992 and became prime minister for a second term later that year.
Yitzhak Rabin played a leading role in the signing of the Oslo Accords, which were responsible for creating the Palestinian National Authority and granting it partial control over parts of the Gaza Strip and West Bank. Due to his work toward finding a settlement with the Palestinians, Rabin received the Nobel Peace Prize together with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat in 1994.
The Oslo Accords caused huge rifts between left and right in Israeli society. On November 4, 1995, Rabin participated in a mass rally in Tel Aviv in favour of the Oslo Accords. Minutes after the end of the rally, Rabin was assassinated by a right-wing extremist, Yigal Amir. Following his death, thousands of Israeli youth returned to the square in Tel Aviv where he had been killed and held nightly vigils. The name of the square was changed from the Kings of Israel Square to Rabin Square, and there is a memorial to Rabin next to the steps where he was killed. The Hebrew date of the assassination, Heshvan 12, became an official day of remembrance and mourning marked by all state institutions and schools.
Teachers of Jewish History can teach about the life and achievements of Yitzhak Rabin. They can also use the photograph as a trigger to talk about the Six Day War with perhaps a focus on the role played by Yitzhak Rabin.
Israel Studies teachers can use the photograph to discuss the IDF and its role in Israeli Society. The resource can also be used to analyse Rabin's assassination, the background to his assassination, and its impact on Israeli society. Teachers of General History or Civics can use Rabin's assassination to discuss political assassinations around the world. The inauguration of an official mourning day and the subject of how and who a society chooses to remember can also be discussed.
Yitzhak Rabin, Jewish Virtual Library
Six Day War, CAMERA – Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America
Rabin Biography, Rabin Centre
Rabin Assassination, Wikipedia
Lessons of Rabin's Assassination, My Jewish Learning
Who is this?
What is he wearing?
What is on his clothes?
Reading Between the Lines
When was this picture taken?
What was Yitzhak Rabin's role in the Six Day War?
What did he do in that role?
Yitzhak Rabin was chief of staff when the IDF captured the Kotel.
Why was the capture of the Kotel such an important moment?
Why was the Six Day War a significant point in Israeli history?
What were Rabin's political achievements?
Do you think his achievements were positive for Israel?
Explain your answer.
What was the atmosphere in Israel that led up to Rabin's assassination in 1995?
What famous song was Rabin singing at the rally just before his assassination? Why is it significant?
What lessons should have been learned since Rabin's assassination?
Do you think these lessons have been learned? Explain.
Has your country been involved in a war in your lifetime?
If so, which personalities led the war?
What were their achievements?
Did they do anything in public life after the war?
(If your country has not been involved in a war in your lifetime, ask your parents or grandparents these questions.)
Ask your parents or grandparents if they remember the time of Rabin's assassination? What are their memories of the time?
Politics is a major part of Israel's daily life.
Is this so in your country?
What are the main political issues in your country?
How do they differ from the main political issues in Israel?
Explain the differences.
Search the internet for information about the feelings of the Israeli population, and especially the young people, following Rabin's assassination.
Write a letter to an Israeli teenager in 1995, the day after Rabin's assassination.