While semi-mindlessly skipping down Blog lane over the weekend, I came upon Lisa’s latest entry and was horrified. I had missed Rabin. Lisa’s stirring piece marking the 10-year anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination evoked personal shame of having just published my own piece on the rather profound subject of restaurant menus.
How could the date have escaped me? True, I had just visited the memorial where he was gunned down two days prior and true, I can beg off being somewhat in the dark due to not owning a television (by choice) and yeah, I’m busy.
But, Ach, I’m making excuses. Surrounded by glaring newspaper headlines and my own, supposed conscience, I failed to remember on the actual day of. So preoccupied with attempting to tread water and make my mark in this world was I, that even despite my daily, Internet surfing habit, the juncture went missing in my world. (personal note: Change homepage news preferences).
It isn’t SUCH a big deal, after all; I can attend Bill Clinton’s tribute memorial at the square down the street this weekend and breathe my sigh of redemptive relief. But not really, because this is old guilt: I’ve been absent twice, the first time being the actual day of his assassination.
Visiting my parents in Ohio at the time, the first, CNN breaking news reports were surreal. But as anchors droned on with pieced-together bits of information about the assassin, speculation over motive and updates from the hospital, my father’s comment broke through the din. A practiced physician, he observed: “This isn’t good. It reminds me of Kennedy. They keep downgrading his condition. I have a feeling he may already be gone.” And sure enough, seconds later the final proclamation was announced.
I broke into choking, loud sobs for long moments, hiding in my parents’ formal dining room in the dark. The crying was to come and go intermittently for the coming week but when it finally subsided that late afternoon, I ran to the phone. A producer/correspondent for Reuters Jerusalem at the time, I hoped against hope that somehow they would need me to come back. That somehow I could DO SOMETHING, be involved, make a difference and lose myself in work rather than continue experiencing the utter frustration of being abroad and watching events unfold without me.
But they didn’t. Alone I watched the funeral and news reports, read the papers and spoke with Israeli friends via telephone comprehending the frustration my pal Steve described years prior, attending to his ill father in London while watching scuds sail into Tel Aviv over the tube.
Back in Tel Aviv a mere two weeks later, things were different. Collectively, the country had been shocked into maturity, numbness and cold speculation over an atrocity committed by “one of their own”. Exhausted professionally and not wanting to experience an impending Netanyahu government, I packed it in for San Francisco months later.
And now, a decade on, I’m back. And if I’m honest with myself, it’s okay about forgetting the other day. Because, duh, it’s not about me.
And it’s okay because on the occasion that I stop by the memorial site and climb the stairs to the dais area from which Rabin addressed rally-goers that fatal night, I imagine the crowd, the feedback from the microphone, the cheers and the singing. And then I imagine what it must have felt like to look out over hundreds of thousands of happy supporters.
And if he felt the way it feels for me when I imagine all that, then there is some solace and knowledge that the path he cleared for us all was not in vain. And to be callously frank? What a hell of a send-off.