Assassination

There, I said it. So did Thomas Friedman in today’s NYT.

Oddly, like Friedman, I, John Aravosis, also met Yitzhak Rabin not long before he was assassinated. It was an odd meeting. I think it was September of 1993. He was in Washington to sign the “Declaration of Principles” with Yasser Arafat. My old boss, Senator Ted Stevens, had a private meeting set up with Rabin in the US Capitol building. As Stevens’ foreign policy adviser, I went with. We made it through the gauntlet of (hot) Israeli security, and there was Rabin, sitting on a small piano-like bench, before a coffee table, with a couch to his right, and several chairs to his left. Everyone sat down, Stevens on the couch, Rabin on the piano-bench, I stood by the door politely deferential.

Rabin then looked at me, and said in his horrendously accented English, “come sit down.” There was nowhere for me to sit, all the seats were taken (there were only six or seven seats around the coffee table, as I recall), and in any case, I could see Stevens glowering at me from the couch, and I knew it wasn’t my place to join in.

Rabin would have none of it. Sit down, he told me again. It’s okay, I said, and there’s nowhere to sit anyway. Rabin looked around, realized I was right, and then scooched over on the very small single-person bench and said “sit here,” patting the small space next to him.

I didn’t know what to do. I was 30 at the time, in one of the more important meetings of my life, and the Israeli Prime Minister was demanding I share a love seat with him, while my boss gave me a “don’t you dare” stare.

So, I scooched next to the Prime Minister of Israel, our sides touching, while everyone around the table gave me a “do you know who he is?” kind of look.

I didn’t understand a thing Rabin said at the meeting. I speak five languages, four fluently. Rabin-English wasn’t one of them.

Two years later he was dead from an assassin’s bullet.


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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