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How AOC Challenged the Myth of Yitzhak Rabin the Peacemaker

When it was publicized that AOC was pulling out of a Yitzhak Rabin memorial, Peace Now’s Israel PR man called him “a warrior with skeletons turned peacemaker, a description that betrays his bloody past.

If it wasn’t for Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC), not many people would have heard about the memorial event being held to commemorate 25 years since the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. AOC was invited by Americans for Peace Now, or APN, to participate in this event. Although she initially accepted the invitation, she later announced that she would not be attending after learning who Rabin really was.

Peace Now is an organization that perpetuates the lie of a liberal, peace-loving Israel more than any other, and, at the center of that lie, is the legacy of Yitzhak Rabin. This lie is propagated so effectively, and with such conviction, one can hardly blame AOC for being misled and initially accepting the invitation. Needless to say, it is a good thing then that she listened to those voices that demanded she decline the invitation.

A history of violence

My father was an Israeli military officer that served alongside Rabin for three decades. Together, they were in the pre-State Zionist militia that terrorized Palestinians and executed the ethnic cleansing campaign of 1948. Together, they remained as officers in the newly formed Israeli Defense Forces, building the military that then maintained and strengthened the settler-colonial apartheid regime in Palestine. Those around him admired Rabin, and his ascension in the military was meteoric, reaching the rank of General at the young age of 32.

He was Israel’s army Chief during the 1967 Israeli assault on Egypt, Syria, and Jordan. My father served as a general alongside Rabin during this assault, heralded as heroic and even miraculous. However, the 1967 war was neither heroic nor miraculous. It was a well planned, well-executed assault. Israel had used its military force against countries whose armies were weak and unprepared to conquer the Syrian Golan Heights, the Egyptian Sinai peninsula, and complete its conquest of Palestine. As a result of that assault, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, as well as the Golan Heights, are now part of the state of Israel.

An estimated 18,000 Arab soldiers and 700 Israeli soldiers were killed in battle during that war. Although there are no exact numbers, Israeli soldiers returning from the war admitted that between 2,000 to 3,000 Egyptian prisoners of war were executed by Israel and buried under the dunes of the Sinai desert. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were made refugees as a result of the Israeli assault.

Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin talking to soldiers in the field | Israeli GPO photographer

We will not cover Rabin’s entire career, but suffice it to say that he was a Zionist through and through, and a war criminal. However, in the eyes of the Israeli Ashkenazi elite, he was an icon. He was a symbol of the military might of the State of Israel, and even though he did everything in his considerable power to kill, dispossess and deny Palestinians their most basic rights, he became a symbol of the so-called peace-loving Israel, also known as the Zionist left.

His image as a man of peace was formed by the Oslo Accords, a brilliant public relations stunt that presented Israel as pursuing peace through an agreement that served to tighten its control over Palestine, its resources, and its people.

Rabin’s assassin

The myth of Rabin as a peacemaker is bolstered by the idea that he was assassinated for peace. Rabin was assassinated by a man who represented the two groups within Israeli society whom he despised, and who felt slighted and disenfranchised by the Ashkenazi elite: The West Bank settlers and non-Ashkenazi Israelis who came from Arab countries.

Rabin was not killed because he attempted to bring peace; he was killed because he was an icon of the privileged, liberal Zionist elite.

He made it absolutely clear that achieving a just peace and allowing the Palestinian people to establish an independent state was the farthest thing from his mind. Although he was not the first or last unworthy recipient of the Nobel Prize for peace, awarding it to him made a mockery of the prize.

A comparison

When it was publicized that Representative Ocasio-Cortez was pulling out of the Rabin memorial, Peace Now’s Israel public relations man Brian Reeves tweeted that Rabin was “a warrior with skeletons turned peacemaker who paid with his life.” The term warrior denotes courage and acts of heroism, like someone fighting for freedom and justice. Rabin was far from that. He was a war criminal who made a career of killing, dispossessing, and brutalizing a nation that never had so much as a tank, let alone a military force of any kind.

In a rare interview given in Beurit in 1970, the great Palestinian writer and resistance leader Ghassan Kanafani said, “We are a small brave nation.” He went on to say, “for us, to liberate our country, to have dignity, to have respect, to have our own mere human rights, is as essential as life itself.” Tragically, in 1972, in an act of cowardice typical of Israeli forces, Kanfani was brutally murdered along with his 16-year old-niece Lamees. Kanafani was a warrior, slain for his dedication to the cause of freedom without which there can never be peace.

For over seven decades, Palestinians have been warriors in their fight for liberty. Palestinians fight for justice and liberation using whatever meager means at their disposal. The refusal of Representative Ocasio-Cortez to commemorate the Zionist war criminal Yitzhak Rabin is one more victory in this heroic fight.

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