Rabin Is Buried Amid Vows to Fulfill His Dream of Peace : Israel: Former enemies embrace nation in its moment of deepest grief. The assassinated prime minister’s granddaughter tearfully recalls her ‘eternal hero.’


The world was his witness.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, born in the Jewish Promised Land and gunned down for forging peace with hostile neighbors, was buried in Mount Herzl national cemetery on Monday with kings and princes, presidents and prime ministers, friends and former enemies at his graveside.

U.N. General Secretary Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Jordan’s King Hussein, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and a host of other leaders who once considered Israel an international pariah embraced the tiny country in its moment of deepest grief.

Together with President Clinton, they vowed that the abrupt end to Rabin’s life would not become the abrupt end to his dream of Middle East peace.

The most heart-wrenching moments of the prime minister’s state funeral, however, came not from dignitaries, but from those who knew Rabin best. A longtime friend read from the blood-soaked song sheet taken from Rabin’s chest pocket after he was assassinated at a peace rally Saturday. And his 18-year-old granddaughter wept over losing the man she called “my eternal hero” and “our pillar of fire,” a reference to God leading the Jews through the desert.

“I know we are talking in terms of a national tragedy, but how can you try to comfort an entire nation or include it in your personal pain, when Grandmother does not stop crying,” Noa Ben Artzi said, her voice breaking. “We are mute, feeling the enormous void that is left by your absence.”


Soldiers and police burst into tears over her words, along with many of the dignitaries and members of Rabin’s close-knit family. His widow, Leah, covered her eyes. Government spokesman Uri Dromi began to choke up, and the tough head of King Hussein’s security force took his hand.

Hussein, wearing a red headdress with his black mourning suit, also spoke in a voice resonant with sorrow over the loss of his friend and partner in peace.

“Never in all my thoughts would it have occurred to me that my first visit to Jerusalem in response to your invitation . . . would be on such an occasion,” Hussein said.

“Let us not keep silent. Let our voices rise higher to speak of our commitment to peace,” he shouted.

“Tell those who live in the dark, who are the enemies of peace . . . this is where we stand. This is our camp. . . . We are not ashamed. We are not afraid. Nor are we anything but determined to fulfill the legacy for which my friend fell, as did my grandfather in this very city when I was with him as a young boy,” the king said.

Hussein’s grandfather, King Abdullah, the first king of Jordan, was killed by a Muslim extremist after he began peace talks with Jewish leaders. In that shooting, a bullet reportedly skimmed off the young prince’s uniform.

“As long as I live,” Hussein said, “I will be proud to have known [Rabin], to have worked with him as a brother, as a friend, and as a man.”

Egypt’s Mubarak made his first trip to Israel for the funeral, although the two countries signed a peace agreement 17 years ago. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was killed by Islamic fundamentalists over that agreement.

Mubarak, who was accompanied by a squad of security guards, told the invitation-only gathering of about 4,000 people that Rabin’s death had dealt a “severe blow to our noble cause.”

Calling Rabin “a true hero of peace,” Mubarak said: “His earnest efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East are a testament to his vision, which we share, to end the suffering of all the peoples of Arab regions. He defied the prejudices of the past to tackle the most complicated of problems, namely the Palestinian problem, in a forthright manner.”

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who signed the 1993 peace accord with Rabin, stayed away from the funeral to avoid riling hard-liners who do not want to see him in the disputed capital. But he sent a delegation of ministers from his ruling Palestinian Authority.

More than a million Israelis, about one-fifth of the nation, horrified that a fellow Jew had cut down the leader of the Jewish nation, said their goodbys to the 73-year-old Rabin while his body lay in state at the Israeli Knesset, or Parliament, from Sunday afternoon to midday Monday.

The simple pine coffin, draped in an Israeli flag, traveled in a slow-moving procession past thousands of weeping mourners to the cemetery, named for the country’s Zionist forefather, Theodor Herzl. Along the way, Israelis lighted memorial candles and read from the Torah.

All of Israel came to a standstill as the funeral began with the wail of a two-minute siren. It was the same bone-chilling call that commemorates the Nazi Holocaust each year and the war dead on Memorial Day.

Rabin’s son, Yuval, said Kaddish, the Jewish mourning prayer, at the ceremony whose only ornaments were a modest row of wreaths between a golden menorah--the Israeli state symbol--and the symbol of the Israel Defense Forces, a sword and olive branch.

The mourners gathered near the tomb of Herzl included scores of past and present state leaders who had worked with Rabin over the decades, among them President Clinton and former Presidents George Bush and Jimmy Carter, Britain’s Prime Minister John Major and Prince Charles, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl and a host of others.

The foreign ministers of Qatar and Oman--Persian Gulf states that have been reluctant to work with Israel--also attended.

Clinton in his remarks echoed Rabin’s own words at the signing of an interim peace agreement with the Palestinians in Washington in September. “Today, my fellow citizens of the world, I ask all of you to take a good, hard look at this picture,” Clinton said.

“Look at the leaders from all over the Middle East and around the world who have journeyed here today for Yitzhak Rabin and for peace. Though we no longer hear his deep and booming voice, it is he who has brought us together again here in word and deed for peace,” said Clinton, who wore a black skullcap.

Clinton recalled the assassinations of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy and civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. as he urged Israelis to “stay the righteous course of peace.”

“As Moses said to the children of Israel, when he knew he would not cross over into the Promised Land, ‘Be strong and of good courage, fear not for God will go with you.’ ”

Many here have likened Rabin’s untimely death to that of Moses. The “soldier of peace,” as Hussein called him, died before concluding peace with the Palestinians, before his labor had taken firm root in the Promised Land.

The 25-year-old law student who killed Rabin, however, told a judge in Tel Aviv on Monday that God may have been his accomplice in the slaying. The judge ordered Yigal Amir held for another 15 days while police gather evidence and return with an indictment.

Amir’s 27-year-old brother, Hagai, was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of cooperation in the killing, police revealed. They suspect that Hagai Amir customized the bullets that killed Rabin into hollow, exploding dumdum bullets.

Police also said they were investigating Yigal Amir’s relationship to the outlawed Kach organization, and whether the extreme-rightist group might have been behind the killing. The murder took place on the fifth anniversary of the murder in New York of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the spiritual leader of Kach.

Security officials had been warning Rabin for months of possible attempts on his life by potentially violent right-wing groups that viewed Rabin as a traitor for his willingness to give up land and settlements held by Israelis to the Palestinians in exchange for peace. But they continued to focus their attention on potential threats from Arabs rather than Jews.

Police Minister Moshe Shahal called for a state inquiry into Rabin’s security detail and how the assassin managed to cut through security lines and get close enough to the prime minister to fire three bullets at nearly point-blank range. Two of them hit Rabin in the torso, one of them through the chest pocket where Rabin had just put the copy of the Israeli “Song for Peace” he had sung a little off-key.

Rabin’s granddaughter took a subtle swat at the security forces in her moving speech when she said, “To the angels of Heaven that are accompanying you now, I ask that they watch over you, that they guard you well, because you deserve such a guard.”

Protecting Jerusalem and the hundreds of foreign dignitaries from 86 nations who arrived for Rabin’s funeral was Israel’s largest security operation. Nearly 10,000 police and soldiers guarded Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for the officials’ arrival, closed off Jerusalem streets to traffic and guarded the car that carried Rabin’s coffin from the Knesset to the cemetery.

Several heads of state were transported by military helicopter from the airport to the cemetery, which was surrounded by paratroopers and police.

The only operation that came anywhere near this one in scope, a police spokesman said, was in August when thousands of officers were stationed along the nation’s major roads to prevent roadblocks by right-wing extremists bent on stopping the peace process.

A sea of regrets washed over mourners at the funeral, who said the whole country had been guilty of complacency, of ignoring the writing on the wall when Rabin’s opponents pasted up posters with a target over his face.

Leah Rabin expressed her gratitude for the huge crowds that have shown their love and respect for her husband. “He was your hope,” she said. “Let’s hope this hope will not die with him. . . . You have the power.”

David Kimche, a longtime peace advocate and president of the Israeli Council on Foreign Relations, responded grimly at the funeral, “It is a terrible thing to be wise after the event.”

The array of friends, colleagues, political rivals and friendly critics gathered at the funeral were a testament to the fact that Rabin’s life paralleled the life of his country. There were buddies from Rabin’s days as a soldier in the Palmach, the Jewish underground that fought to end British rule in Palestine and create the state of Israel.

There were army buddies too from Rabin’s days as a rising officer in the Israel Defense Forces, friends who fought with him to capture Jerusalem in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

And there were longtime Labor Party leaders who started in politics with Rabin, argued with him over the years and stood by him through his climb to the top.

Many of them offered personal eulogies of the chain-smoking Rabin, a stubborn, hard-working native Israeli whose gruff exterior made him the country’s Everyman.

“All of the cliches are true,” said Zvi Zur, a leader of Israel’s aircraft industry and an old-time Rabin colleague. “He had a lot of integrity and was quick to make decisions. . . . He can only be compared with [Israel’s founding Prime Minister David] Ben Gurion. He was responsible for substantial changes in the policy of the country. He turned the country on its head.”

The final eulogy was offered by his aide of 35 years and speech writer, Eitan Haber, who on Saturday night had announced Rabin’s death to a country holding its breath.

Pulling out the bloodstained sheet of music that Rabin had used at the peace rally before he died, Haber said, “Your blood, your blood, Yitzhak, covers the printed words.” And he recited from the last song Rabin sang:

“So sing only a song for peace,

Do not whisper a prayer

Better sing a song for peace

With a big shout.”

Dignitaries, family and friends accompanied Rabin’s casket to the grave, where he was buried. Seven soldiers fired their guns.

Afterward, acting Prime Minister Shimon Peres met privately with Clinton, Mubarak and Hussein to reassure the leaders that Israel will press on with Rabin’s agreement for peace.

Peres had been among those eulogizing Rabin, calling him “a great dreamer who created a new reality in our region.”

“This last Saturday night, we sang together the song of peace and I felt a rising spirit in your breast,” Peres said. “Farewell to you my elder brother, the bringer of peace.”

More Inside

* PROFOUND PRESENCE: Jordan’s King Hussein and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak risk Arab displeasure to attend rites. A8

* FROM THE HEART: Yitzhak Rabin’s beloved granddaughter gives a moving and emotional eulogy for her “hero.” A9