Yitzhak Rabin memorial shows hope for Israeli peace

by Elizabeth Dunbar

Scented candles and poster-sized pictures of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin lined the west end of the Washington Avenue Bridge on Monday.

Under increasing political uncertainty in Israel, members of Friends of Israel and Hillel Jewish student center dedicated a memorial to Rabin and the victims of suicide bombings on the seventh anniversary of his assassination.

“He’ll always be remembered as one who died for the peace process,” said Sarah Chin, a member of both groups.

Rabin was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and former Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres in 1994 for their efforts to bring peace to the region.

Israel’s current prime minister, Ariel Sharon, has been criticized for his lack of diplomatic efforts in improving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Last week, Sharon’s coalition collapsed as Labor Party members quit after a budget dispute. After attempts to form a majority government, Sharon announced Tuesday that Israel will hold elections as early as January.

Omri Fine, a University senior from Israel, said he thinks early elections will be better for the peace process.

“Israelis are looking for a change,” he said. “The situation between Israelis and Palestinians didn’t get better with Ariel Sharon. We can’t continue like this.”

Though it’s possible the new elections could bring another right-wing prime minister, Fine said he hopes violence will subside enough for the Israeli people to elect a more left-wing government.

“I think people need to try to see the human aspect of both sides, and I think the governments need to do that too,” said Josh Sinykin, a junior computer engineering major.

Sinykin said he hopes to see peace between Palestinians and Israelis by starting dialogue among young people.

“It needs to start with the children,” he said. “They need to be taught to make an effort to talk and know the other side.”

Fine said he agrees that peace might not come from the current leadership in Sharon and Arafat.

“Once this generation is gone,” he said, “people will be a lot more open for conversation about peace.”

Elizabeth Dunbar covers international affairs and welcomes comments at [email protected]