Yitzhak Rabin

A man of war and a man of peace.

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This Rabin biography is copyrighted by and reprinted with permission of MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA.

Yitzhak Rabin was born in Jerusalem on March 1, 1922 to Rosa and Nehemia Rabin (Rubitzov). Shortly thereafter, his family moved to Tel-Aviv. He attended Beit Hinukh Leyaldei Ovdim (Worker's Children School) in Tel Aviv, and from age 15, Kadourie agricultural school. He initially failed the Kadourie entrance exam, but later won the High Commissioner's prize for academic excellence. 

Yitzhak Rabin Army Israel Northern Command WarAt Kadourie, Rabin became friends with Yigal Alon, later a leader of the Palmah, the elite strike force of the Haganah underground.  In 1941, Rabin joined the Palmah underground. In 1945, he was deputy commander of the operation that freed 200 illegal immigrants from the Atlit detention camp. In 1947, he was appointed Deputy Commander of the Palmah. He married Leah Shlossberg in 1948 and they had two children, Yuval and Dalia.

As commander of the Harel brigade, Rabin played a crucial role in the defense of Jerusalem in 1948, particularly in operation Nahshon, which lifted the blockade to Jerusalem in the beginning of April 1948, and in fighting in the Katamonim. By a quirk of fate, Rabin was also the commander in charge in June of 1948, when David Ben Gurion gave the order to sink the Altalena, a ship carrying arms for the Irgun underground, which Ben-Gurion and others suspected was plotting a coup.

Rabin studied at the Camberly Staff College in Britain until 1953. In 1954 he was appointed head of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) Training Branch by Moshe Dayan, and was promoted to Brigadier General. He planned the Israeli officers training college. From 1956-1959 he was Chief of Operations of the Northern Command, and in 1961 he became deputy Chief of Staff of the IDF. On Jan 1, 1964, he became Chief of Staff of the IDF, and led the IDF to victory in the Six Day War in 1967.

Rabin retired from the Army in 1968. Though he had not been a member of the Mapai party, he joined the successor Labor party and was subsequently appointed ambassador to the United States, a political exile intended to keep him from being a serious contender for office. As ambassador, he was the architect of the close relationship between Israel and the United States that evolved after the Six Day War, which in his view had to be based on shared strategic concerns and the strategic value of Israel to the United States rather than appeals to the power of the Jewish vote.

In 1973,  Rabin returned to Israel and became Minister of Labor in the cabinet of Golda Meir. Following the resignation of Golda Meir, Rabin became Prime Minister on June 2, 1974--the youngest in the history of Israel and the first native-born Israeli (Sabra). In 1977 however, Rabin resigned as Prime Minister and head of the Labor party in favor of Shimon Peres after it was revealed that his wife, Leah, had illegally maintained a foreign currency account containing about $3,000 in the United States.

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Ami Isseroff

Ami Isseroff is a web journalist and director of MidEastWeb for Coexistence. He lives in Rehovot, Israel.