Peacemaking is Dangerous

Cursed are the peacemakers, for they shall inherit the assassin's bullet.

It happened to Anwar Sadat in Egypt. It happened to Mahatma, Indira and Rajiv Gandhi in India. It happened to Martin Luther King, Jr., in the USA.

Now the burdens of making peace have claimed Yitzhak Rabin of Israel.

Rabin's path to peace was different than the non-violent peacemakers. Rabin was first a soldier, fighting for Israel's independence in the turbulent Middle East.

But history may record his most important role - as a statesman who realized more than 40 years of war, terrorism, violence and death had not accomplished much for either side.

After he was elected as prime minister in 1992, he dedicated his country to using its mind instead of its military to forge a peace with its old foes, Jordan, Egypt and Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization.

The world saw these enemies shaking hands in 1993 after signing the first peace accord. It saw Rabin, Arafat and Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres accept the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 - a recognition of how far they had come.

But many thought Israel had conceded too much in order to strike a peace, forming a bitter split among the Jewish community there. Recent months had seen Rabin attacked and heckled.

Yigal Amir was one of the hecklers. On Saturday, Amir grew tired of heckling Rabin. Now the world gathers to bless another peacemaker, for the earth has inherited him.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger cried for Rabin on CNN while people of Beirut and Iran rejoiced. Some members of the Jewish community in New York mourned while others said it was long overdue. The same sentiment was echoed by the leader of the Islamic Jihad while Arafat called Amir's act a crime and called Rabin the bravest leader of Israel.

Amir was a 27-year-old law student from the town of Herzeliya. He claims God told him to do it. CNN reporters said he told police he also intended to assassinate Peres.

There have been reports that a Jewish organization that opposes the peace process has claimed it was responsible for Rabin's murder.

In the law of an eye for an eye, who had their eyes plucked out by Rabin in the name of peace? No one. What right can Amir have to invoke murder in the name of God? None.

Rabin tried to exchange a plot of Israeli land for peace in his country. It created violence in his own country. He tried to save lives. It has now claimed his own life.

Amir's act may not have achieved its desired effect. It may have solidified the position of the peacemakers. Peres is now in charge. The leaders of the party that opposes the peace have said they will support Peres for now.

Rabin was killed as he left a peace rally. Peres, in a press conference Saturday, said Rabin was happy at the end.

"The last song he sang was the 'Song of Peace,'" Peres said. "He put this song in his pocket, and the bullet went through this song. The song of peace ringing in our ears will not end."

The song of peace has, for the time being, been reduced to a dirge.