I had just landed several days before in the U.S. Elana and I were in Israel leading our second Israel tour. It was only my third visit to the place I have called home for the past 15 years and I was wild-eyed and dreamy. I could not wait to move! I was intoxicated on all things Israel! It was Saturday night in the Holy Land, and about 4pm in Maryland, when I turned on the T.V.
Yitzhak Rabin, the ninth Prime Minister of Israel, had been shot dead! Despite not being a fan of Rabin’s risky policies and overtures to the PLO—I burst into tears and did not stop crying for a week.
While in Israel on the tour, many questions came up about the peace process. The right-wing political party Likud had been ousted from power because of the Intifada (the violent Palestinian uprising). Israelis wanted peace with their Arab neighbors and they didn’t think Likud had the willingness to negotiate. Shimon Peres, as foreign minister, had already persuaded King Hussein to agree to a set of principles.
In a secret meeting in a London home, the two met and got along so well that the King suggested that he and Peres do the dishes together after the meal. What a sight that would have been—the king of an Arab enemy nation doing dishes with the foreign minister of Israel. Of course, their host would have none of it.
But when Peres presented the set of principles to the prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir (of the Likud party), he was cold to the idea. Peres was stunned.
A couple years later, after the fall of the Soviet empire and the turmoil between Middle Eastern Arab nations (when Iraq conquered Kuwait), there was a feeling that peace was achievable. Rabin defeated Peres in the Labor party primaries and, once again, became prime minister of Israel (he had been prime minister in the 1970s).