In a placid pine grove on the western outskirts of Jerusalem, Yitzhak Rabin’s grave has become a place of pilgrimage for Israelis who yearn for the peace that “could have been.”
Many Israelis who had supported Rabin’s policies of trading land for peace with the Palestinians are anguished over last week’s bloody fighting between the two peoples that seems to have wiped out any hope for peace.
Some have been seeking solace at Rabin’s grave, marked by twin curved stones of black and white. On Saturday, a stream of visitors came to the tomb, placing bouquets, memorial candles and pebbles on it.
A white piece of paper with the word “Shalom,” Hebrew for peace, lay wilting under an olive branch.
“It’s more than a grave,” Roni Siboni, a college graduate, said as he paid his respects. “He stirred the hopes of an entire nation.”
“This is a shrine of regret for what could have been,” said another visitor to the grave, electrical engineer Peter Kornis. “He was the last chance we had.”
As prime minister, Rabin had been targeted by right-wing Israelis as a traitor and murderer for his readiness to give up parts of the biblical Land of Israel in exchange for peace.
Rabin’s widow, Leah, in the past has blamed Rabin’s successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, for creating the divisive political climate that encouraged Rabin’s assassin to pull the trigger.
“Rabin has been remurdered in the past few days because all of his ideas are dying,” said Dorit Flohr, an electrical engineering student from the northern port city of Haifa.
At the entrance to Mount Herzl Cemetery, a photo exhibit depicts Rabin shaking hands with King Hussein of Jordan and receiving the Nobel Peace Prize with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and former Prime Minister Shimon Peres.
“These photos are reminders of the ‘good old days,’ of hope for a better future for us and the Palestinians,” said Talman Marco, a computer science student.