What Could Have Been – Reflections on the Rabin Center

Thursday, March 3

Written by Mike Diamond

rabin-center-exteriorfeature-crop
The Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv

I often think about “what could have been” when world events or life cycle events occur that suddenly take us in a different and unexpected direction. And, at certain times I think about bookmarks that have defined my political life – for example President Kennedy’s election in 1960 (I was 15) and President Obama’s election in 2008 (I was 63). Thursday in Tel Aviv was about “what could have been,” and these bookmarks.

On Thursday we visited the Yitzhak Rabin Center and this was a much more emotional and thought provoking experience than I imagined it would be. This is a wonderful museum that so effectively intertwines Rabin’s life with the history of Israel during that time and with major world events at during his lifetime. As I walked through the museum I kept coming back to the thought – “what could have been.” What could have been if Kennedy was not assassinated, if Martin Luther King had lived a longer life, if Bobby Kennedy had become president, if Rabin could have continued the peace process and countless other examples of people killed or dying before their time — George Tiller the doctor killed because he led an abortion clinic, the over 1,100 black men killed in the U.S. by police in 2015, the over 3,000 people killed in 9/11, Daniel Pearl beheaded by terrorists, and so many individuals I don’t even know that never had the chance to fulfill their own life cycle and have their own positive impact on the world that we all have the ability to do.

Of course, “what could have been” by itself is a useless exercise unless it forces us to take actions for good on behalf of all those who no longer able to do. We can argue about how the world might be different if President Kennedy had lived or if Yitzhak Rabin had not been assassinated, but we can’t change the past and of course we cannot know the outcome if this had happened rather than that happening. But, what we can do as Jews is return to our values and obligations of Tikkun Olam and help repair the world – one action at a time, no matter how big or how small. At times, this trip has made me feel powerless and almost emotionally paralyzed in the face of all the challenges confronting Israel and the entire Middle East. Yet, in an odd way, the time I spent at the Rabin museum renewed my energy to do what I can to help realize the goodness of all those who no longer can do so. I doubt I have the capacity for big things, but I do have the capacity for small everyday actions that when added all together might help repair the world. This is the lesson for me that I learned over the last ten days during our time in Israel. Hopefully, my fellow travelers and the Isaiah community will help me bring this lesson to life.

Looking forward to going home!

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