The Yitzhak Rabin Center was established in Tel Aviv in 1997 as the legacy of former Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (1922-1995). Rabin’s life story, and Israel’s history as a young democracy, are highlighted in parallel exhibits. The goal of the center is to ensure that Rabin’s story is a cautionary tale and to perpetuate his belief in democratic values, social cohesion, open dialogue, and Zionism. From the story of Rabin’s life, we can draw valuable lessons. At the Yitzhak Rabin Center, there are cultural programs and exhibits that encourage cooperation between the different cultures of Israel.
Who was Yitzhak Rabin?
Rabin was born in Israel in 1922 and grew up in a household where social activism and zionist principles were a part of life. He went on to study agriculture and met Yigal Allon who recruited him to the Haganah. When WWII broke out Rabin played his part helping the British.
He joined the Palmach and following WWII Rabin dedicated himself to facilitating Jewish immigration to Israel. He rose in the ranks of the new Israeli army and fought in countless pivotal battles including the 1948 War of Independence. In 1963 he was appointed the highest rank in the Israeli army, Chief of Staff. Rabin held this position during the 1967 Six-Day War.
Following the war, Rabin concluded his 27-year military career and was appointed Israeli ambassador to the United States where he continued to promote Middle Eastern diplomacy. Rabin returned to Israel in 1973 and joined the Labor Party led by Golda Meir and eventually became the Labor Minister. In 1974, he took office as Prime Minister for the first time and guided national policy towards cooperation, and regional peace taking the first steps towards peace with Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco.
In his second term as Prime Minister Rabin resigned when it was revealed that his wife held a bank account in the US which was illegal for Israelis at the time. This act of loyalty to his wife gained him even more public support. He became part of the opposition but in 1981 Labor once again held the government. After the 1984 elections, Rabin became Defence Minister in a united government. In 1989 he proposed a two-state peace agreement that would enhance peace between the Palestinians and Israelis. In 1990 the unity government collapsed and Rabin and the Labor Party returned to the opposition.
Rabin saw the many changes happening in the world, like the collapse of the USSR and he didn’t want to miss this window of opportunity, and atmosphere of world harmony. Rabin returned to power and stuck to his commitment to peace, reconciliation, and solving the Palestinian problem. He initiated talks with neighboring countries and authorized secret negotiations with the Palestinians held in Oslo.
In 1999 The Oslo Accords were signed laying the foundation for a two-state solution. Soon after, a peace treaty was signed with Jordan. In 1994 Palestinian leaders, Yasser Arafat, and Rabin were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. In September 1995, Oslo 2 was signed laying a road map towards peace. But in Israel, not all citizens supported the move.
The Assassination of Rabin
Rabin attended a peace rally held in Tel Aviv’s Kings of Israel Square, on the night of November 4, 1995. After giving a speech, Rabin descended the stage to his car and was shot three times by Yigal Amir, a radical religious Jew. Rabin was rushed to the hospital but died shortly after arrival. The country mourned this great leader who was on a path to bringing peace to the region. His life’s work was cut short before completion and peace was set back yet again. Today the Yitzhak Rabin Center keeps his vision alive. Since then the square where Rabin was shot has been renamed, Rabin Square.
Visiting the Rabin Center
The center’s building stands majestically on a hill overlooking Yarkon Park and near to Tel Aviv’s top museums and the Tel Aviv University. On display is a permanent exhibition dedicated to the history of democracy and society in Israel with Rabin’s story connecting the historic events. The exhibit uses the latest museum technology with multimedia scenes, voiceovers, photography, sound effects, and 200 short documentary films highlighting Israel’s establishment, conflicts, historic moments, social challenges, and the country’s successes.
Regular workshops aim to teach Rabin’s values of mutual respect, social responsibility, and social justice in a pluralistic society. The center is open to the public with the prior arrangements on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9 am to 3 pm. The entrance to the building is from Chaim Levanon Street, Tel Aviv.