THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release November 6, 1995
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT CLINTON
AT THE STATE FUNERAL OF
PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL,
Har Herzl Cemetery
2:24 P.M. (L)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Lea, to the Rabin children and grandchildren
and other family members, President Weizman, Acting Prime Minister Peres,
members of the Israeli government and the Knesset, distinguished leaders from
the Middle East and around the world, especially His Majesty King Hussein for
those remarkable and wonderful comments, and President Mubarak for taking this
historic trip here. And to all the people of Israel.
The American people mourn with you in the loss of your leader. And I
mourn with you, for he was my partner and friend. Every moment we shared was a
joy because he was a good man and an inspiration because he was also a great
Lea, I know that too many times in the life of this country you were
called upon to comfort and console the mothers and the fathers, the husbands
and the wives, the sons and the daughters who lost their loved ones to violence
and vengeance. You gave them strength. Now, we here and millions of people all
around the world in all humility and honor offer you our strength. May God
comfort you among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Yitzhak Rabin lived the history of Israel. Through every trial and
triumph -- the struggle for independence, the wars for survival, the pursuit of
peace, and all he served on the front lines -- this Son of David and of Solomon
took up arms to defend Israel's freedom and laid down his life to secure
He was a man completely without pretense, as all of his friends knew. I
read that in 1949, after the War of Independence, David Ben Gurion sent him to
represent Israel at the armistice talks at Rhodes, and he had never before worn
a necktie, and did not know how to tie the knot. So the problem was solved by a
friend who tied it for him before he left and showed him how to preserve the
knot simply by loosening the tie and pulling it over his head.
Well, the last time we were together, not two weeks ago, he showed up
for a black-tie event on time but without the black tie. And so he borrowed a
tie, and I was privileged to straighten it for him. It is a moment I will
cherish as long as I live.
To him, ceremonies and words were less important than actions and
deeds. Six weeks ago, the King and President Mubarak will remember, we were at
the White House for signing the Israel-Palestinian agreement. And a lot of
people spoke. I spoke, the King spoke, Chairman Arafat spoke, President Mubarak
spoke, our foreign ministers all spoke. And finally Prime Minister Rabin got up
to speak and he said, "First, the good news -- I am the last speaker."
But he also understood the power of words and symbolism. "Take a look
at the stage," he said in Washington, "the King of Jordan, the President of
Egypt, Chairman Arafat, and us, the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of
Israel, on one platform. Please take a good, hard look. The sight you see
before you was impossible, was unthinkable just three years ago. Only poets
dreamt of it. And to our great pain, soldier and civilian went to their deaths
to make this moment possible." Those were his words.
Today, my fellow citizens of the world, I ask all of you to take a
good, hard look at this picture. 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.
Now, it falls to all of us who love peace and all of us who loved him
to carry on the struggle to which he gave life and for which he gave his life.
He cleared the path and his spirit continues to light the way. His spirit lives
on in the growing peace between Israel and her neighbors. It lives in the eyes
of the children, the Jewish and the Arab children who are leaving behind a past
of fear for a future of hope. It lives on in a promise of true security.
So let me say to the people of Israel, even in your hour of darkness,
his spirit lives on, and so you must not lose your spirit. Look at what you
have accomplished -- making a once barren desert bloom, building a thriving
democracy in a hostile terrain, winning battles and wars and now winning the
peace, which is the only enduring victory.
Your Prime Minister was a martyr for peace, but he was a victim of
hate. Surely we must learn from his martyrdom that if people cannot let go of
the hatred of their enemies, they risk sowing the seeds of hatred among
I ask you, the people of Israel, on behalf of my nation that knows its
own long litany of loss, from Abraham Lincoln to President Kennedy to Martin
Luther King, do not let that happen to you.
In the Knesset, in your homes, in your places of worship, stay the
righteous course. 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. He will not fail you. He will not forsake
President Weizman, Acting Prime Minister Peres, to all the people of
Israel, as you stay the course of peace, I make this pledge: Neither will
America forsake you.
Legend has it that in every generation of Jews from time immemorial, a
just leader emerged to protect his people and show them the way to safety.
Prime Minister Rabin was such a leader. He knew as he declared to the world on
the White House lawn two years ago, that the time had come, in his words, "to
begin a new reckoning in the relations between people, between parents tired of
war, between children who will not know war." Here in Jerusalem, I believe with
perfect faiths that he was leading his people to that promised land.
This week, Jews all around the world are studying the Torah portion in
which God tests the faith of Abraham, patriarch of the Jews and the Arabs. He
commands Abraham to sacrifice Yitzhak. "Take your son, the one you love,
Yitzhak." As we all know, as Abraham in loyalty to God was about to kill his
son, God spared Yitzhak. Now, God tests our faith even more terribly, for he
has taken our Yitzhak.
But Israel's covenant with God -- for freedom, for tolerance, for
security, for peace, that covenant must hold. That covenant was Prime Minister
Rabin's life's work. Now, we must make it his lasting legacy. His spirit must
live on in us.
The Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for mourning, never speaks of death, but
often speaks of peace. In its closing words, "May our hearts find a measure of
comfort and our souls the eternal touch of hope." "Oseh shalom bimromov hu
ya'aseh shalom aleinu ve'al kol Yisrael, ve'imru amen." And shalom chaver.
2:34 P.M. (L)