Tuesday, March 22, 2016

the last book I ever read (Dan Ephron's Killing a King, excerpt ten)

from Killing a King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel by Dan Ephron:

The funeral at noon the next day marked the largest gathering of international leaders the Middle East had ever known, with more than two thousand foreign guests. Nearly eighty countries had sent senior representatives, including Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, and Tunisia. The headwear told the story: Jews in skullcaps but also men in kaffiyehs, turbans, military berets, and baseball caps. For a country that had suffered isolation in the region throughout its history, the display underscored just how far Israel had come in the preceding three years. Airport authorities canceled all regularly scheduled flights for several hours in order to free the runways for the government planes. Only Arafat among world leader was conspicuous by his absence. Israel decided it would be too difficult to protect him from potential assassins.

Clinton and the rest of the American delegation had arrived on Air Force One early in the morning. On the flight over, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Itamar Rabinovich, delivered a briefing to a select group on the situation in Israel. The notables, including former presidents Bush and Carter, wanted to know what to expect of Peres—could he assume Rabin’s security mantle and reassure Israelis about the risks involved in further peacemaking? Rabinovich explained that Peres had been a security figure throughout his career—the father of the Israeli nuclear program and a former defense minister. But the questions would come to see prescient in subsequent months. Rabinovich took in the luxury of the plane—all eighty seats were first-class recliners. George Shultz, the former secretary of state, leaned over and explained to the Israeli official that it was President Reagan who had ordered the upgrade. Only Reagan could spend lavishly on comforts for the president and get away with it, he said. Several rows behind them, House Speaker Newt Gingrich complained loudly about having been seated so far in the back.

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