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Rabin In His Own Words (A Movie Review)

Updated: Mar 26, 2020

Rabin In His Own Words

Rabin In His Own Words


Featuring archival footage of Yitzhak Rabin, Leah Rabin, Shimon Peres, Menachem Begin, Golda Meir, David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan, Anwar Sadat, Yasser Arafat, King Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, Gerald Ford, Betty Ford, Henry Kissinger, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, George H.W. Bush, Yitzhak Shamir, Moshe Arens, Benjamin Netanyahu, Dalia Rabin-Pelossof and Yuval Rabin.

Script by Erez Laufer.

Directed by Erez Laufer.

Distributed by Menemsha Pictures.  100 minutes.  Not Rated.

A little over 20 years since his death, there has been a renewed interest in former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.  Earlier this year, there was a documentary called Rabin, The Last Day, which explored his assassination.  Rabin In His Own Words instead takes more of an overview look at the statesman’s life, as told in his own words through various interviews, letters, speeches, books, news footage, journals and articles.

In the years since he was killed, Middle East relations have become a quagmire of Yitzhak Rabin was killed in 1995.  He played an instrumental role in Israel’s search for peace, playing pivotal roles in the first time meetings with such sworn enemies as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) head Yasser Arafat and King Hussein of Jordan.  However, as only a real military man can realize, he knew peace was much preferable to war, and you had to try to find common ground with even your most vicious enemies or else be doomed to an everlasting state of conflict.

As Rabin said: “We don’t have to like each other to achieve coexistence in peace.”

He was a man whose constant search for peace ended up costing his own life.

Rabin took a long, interesting path in his life.  Growing up in Jerusalem, he fully intended to be a farmer on a kibbutz.  However, military duty called (as it does for all Israelis), and to his great surprise he quickly rose up the ranks.  He became a General, the minister of Defense, a two-time Prime Minister, and shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat.

Early on here, in an old interview, Rabin admits, “There is nothing harder than defining yourself.”  However, Rabin In His Own Words does a good job of making a smart overview of the man’s place in history.  Occasionally it feels like knowledge of the changing situations of the Middle East over the decades are helpful to coming to terms with the film, but even for people who have little knowledge it is very useful.

Of course, these attempts at peace were controversial on all sides.  Continuing violence on both sides just exacerbated this, leading to protests of the very negotiations that he felt were so necessary.  It also led to Rabin losing the position of Prime Minister for several years before getting voted back in.  Rabin shows a humanity, a measure of doubt, but a strong belief that reconciliation, no matter how hard, was vital for Israeli survival.

His insights into his life and his legacy (mostly in his natively Hebrew, with English subtitles), show Rabin to be a complex, but very caring man.

In the years since his assassination, the Middle East has become even more of a political time bomb.  This is due to many factors, but at least partially because there seem to be few leaders left who are still brave enough or willing to work across the aisle and try to find a common goal with their enemies.  Yes, that means you, Benjamin Netanyahu, though the blame is equally shared by most of the other leaders in the region.

Rabin In His Own Words reminds us of a time when politicians put their people’s best interest ahead of their own beliefs or popularity.  Yitzhak Rabin was not a perfect man or a perfect politician, in fact he’d be the first to admit that, but more of his type is badly needed in the world today.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2016 All rights reserved. Posted: May 7, 2016.

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