In the mid-1990s, I spent most of my working hours talking to Palestinians in the West
Bank. I covered Palestinian affairs for Haaretz, and during that period I was speaking day-to-day with more
Palestinians than with fellow Israelis.
On the night of Nov. 4, 1995, having just heard from the news desk editor that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had
been shot, I called Palestinian officials for reaction. I was on the phone with Palestinian
negotiator Saeb Erekat when I heard on Israel Radio that Rabin’s
spokesman was about to make a statement.
As Eitan Haber hushed the crowed, I started translating for
Erekat: "The government of Israel announces in dismay, in great sadness, and in deep sorrow, the death of
Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Yitzhak Rabin, murdered by an assassin tonight in Tel Aviv."
As I cried, I could hear Saeb’s voice crack. I had known Dr. Erekat for years, a relationship that began when
he was the editorial writer of the Palestinian daily al-Quds, briefing Israeli reporters on Palestinian
politics while sharing a smoke on the steps of the newspaper’s East Jerusalem office. Over the years, we
laughed a lot together. Now we were crying.