Dalia and Yuval Rabin and their families; former President Clinton; and the many distinguished guests:
On behalf of President Barack Obama, Vice President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry, and on behalf of all Americans, I am honored to be with you tonight and to offer a few words as part of this commemoration for Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, z”l, on the 20th anniversary of his assassination.
So much is said, all of it true, about Yitzhak Rabin’s legacy as a warrior and a peacemaker. Rabin was a patriot of the first order, committed to Israel’s security and to the pursuit of peace. But there is another legacy. No less, he was a true friend of the United States, who worked throughout his lifetime to advance the close ties between our countries.
Anyone in my position would be forever indebted—as am I—to the outsized and enduring contributions Yitzhak Rabin made in forging the alliance that binds our two nations.
Among the many reasons so many Americans admired Rabin was his devotion and his commitment to the special ties and the strategic alliance between our countries, our truly extraordinary relationship forged during some of the most tumultuous events that shaped the 20th century.
As a statesman, Rabin understood that diplomacy is not about managing fate. Just like military strategy, at which he excelled, it is about action and initiative. And our relationship would not be what it is today without the action and initiative of Yitzhak Rabin.
He led the Israel Defense Forces in the 1960s, at a time when we were just beginning to deepen our military relations. Then, after trading his khakis for a suit, he ably represented Israel in Washington. By the time he left five years later, the relationship was unrecognizable.
It had grown by leaps and bounds.
Rabin inherited a close friendship and then helped transform it into a budding alliance. In those days, he worked closely, and with great trust, with President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
Two decades later, in his second term as Prime Minister, he would again steer the relationship to new heights. He was President Clinton’s partner. He was his friend. And as Noa spoke at the funeral about missing her grandfather, Mr. President, I think you’d agree that even more than the Prime Minister and the peacemaker, you miss—we miss—our friend.
As you will hear directly from President Obama, we continue to draw inspiration from Yitzhak Rabin.
In fact, he speaks to us still. Now more than ever, let us follow his lead by demonstrating that we oppose violence, terror, and extremism—of any kind. And let us heed his lessons by exhausting every opening, every possibility in the quest for peace.
As President Obama said in Jerusalem on his last visit to Israel—and as Yitzhak Rabin demonstrated until he drew his last breath—peace is necessary, peace is just and peace is possible.
רבין לימד אותנו כמה חשוב לשאוף לעתיד טוב יותר ושעלינו יומיום לעשות הכל ביכולותינו לקדם חזון משותף למען עתיד יותר בטוח ויותר שלו.
Yitzhak Rabin taught us the importance of striving for a better future and that we are obligated, each and every day, to do everything in our power to advance a shared vision for a more secure and peaceful future.
And for this, we remain in his debt.