Yehuda Avner, who was the English speechwriter for Rabin is about to publish a book, The Prime Ministers: An Intimate Narrative of Israeli Leadership
As the Jerusalem Post reports, there is a segment in which he relates Yitzhak Rabin’s explanation to him about Oslo. It is a prescient and strategically accurate description of precisely what we see playing out before us.
â€œMy first question was, â€˜Why did you shake Yasser Arafatâ€™s hand?â€™â€
â€œNumber one,â€ he recounts Rabin as saying, â€œIsrael is surrounded by two concentric circles. The inner circle is comprised of our immediate neighbors â€“ Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon and, by extension, Saudi Arabia. The outer circle comprises their neighbors â€“ Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya. Virtually all of them are rogue states, and some are going nuclear.
â€œNumber two,â€ the prime minister went on, â€œIranian-inspired Islamic fundamentalism constitutes a threat to the inner circle no less than it does to Israel. Islamic fundamentalism is striving to destabilize the Gulf Emirates, has already created havoc in Syria, leaving twenty thousand dead, in Algeria, leaving one hundred thousand dead, in Egypt, leaving twenty-two thousand dead, in Jordan, leaving eight thousand dead, in the Horn of Africa â€“ the Sudan and Somalia â€“ leaving fourteen thousand dead, and in Yemen, leaving twelve thousand dead. And now it is gaining influence in theWest Bank and the Gaza Strip.
â€œIran is the banker,â€ Rabin pointed out, â€œpouring millions into the West Bank and Gaza in the form of social welfare and health and education programs, so that it can win the hearts of the population and feed religious fanaticism.
â€œThus,â€ he continued to Avner, â€œa confluence of interest has arisen between Israel and the inner circle, whose long-term strategic interest is the same as ours: to lessen the destabilizing consequences from the outer circle. At the end of the day,the inner circle recognizes they have less to fear from Israel than from their Muslim neighbors, not least from radicalized Islamic powers going nuclear.â€
…The Israel-Arab conflict, he said, â€œwas always considered to be a political one: a conflict between Arabs and Israelis. The fundamentalists are doing their level best to turn it into a religious conflict â€“ Muslim against Jew, Islam against Judaism. And while a political conflict is possible to solve through negotiation and compromise, there are no solutions to a theological conflict. Then it is jihad â€“ religious war: their God against our God. Were they to win, our conflict would go from war to war, and from stalemate to stalemate.
â€œAnd that, essentially is why I agreed to Oslo and shook hands, albeit reluctantly, with Yasser Arafat. He and his PLO represent the last vestige of secular Palestinian nationalism. We have nobody else to deal with. It is either the PLO or nothing. It is a long shot for a possible settlement, or the certainty of no settlement at all at a time when the radicals are going nuclear.â€
Avner and Rabin were supposed to meet again the following week but Rabin was murdered the evening before by a religious fanatic. A Jewish one.