Saturday, October 18, 2008

Thinking About Yitzhak And Leah Rabin–And Hoping For Barack Obama's Safety

All of us have heard the hate-filled references to Barack Obama as a "terrorist" and "traitor" and the call to "kill him." Such venom is egged on by Sarah Palin in particular, who has referred at rallies to Obama's "palling around with terrorists." Though McCain did recently repudiate such statements, he let several rallies pass before saying a word. Palin has said nothing to calm the fires that she has stoked.

I'm disturbingly reminded of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who was the object of venom by the right wing in his country. They were enraged at the peace negotiations he was engaged in with Yasser Arafat. Following Rabin's assassination, his widow, Leah Rabin, never forgave those who incited crowds against him. From The Independent, London:

AFTER THE Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated...his widow Leah cast herself as the unforgiving scourge of the Israeli right, which she blamed for fostering the atmosphere in which a Jewish radical, Yigal Amir, pulled the trigger. She constantly chastised the West Bank settlers and other opponents of the Oslo peace agreement for hounding her husband as a "traitor."

When young peace campaigners went to her Tel Aviv flat to comfort her after the murder, she asked them accusingly why they hadn't come during the long months when Rabin's abusers picketed them there every weekend. She shunned the Likud leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, who had spoken at a Jerusalem rally in which demonstrators brandished photo- montages of Rabin in Nazi uniform.

Hours after Rabin's state funeral, Leah told an Israeli television interviewer: "There definitely was incitement which was strongly absorbed and which found itself a murderer, who did this because he had the support of a broad public." Earlier, when Rabin's coffin was lying in state, she frostily told an opposition leader who came to pay his respects, "It's too late."

I hope that Obama's security detail is as tight as possible. I have no doubt that there are those who wish him harm and will be enraged if he wins. Should Obama prevail, I'll be overjoyed–and constantly hoping that he'll stay safe.

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