Photo Credit: Jewish Press

We shake hands daily with new acquaintances and old friends. The handshake is perhaps the most widely understood symbol of solidarity and respect. Yet, one of the most famous handshakes in modern Jewish history proved to have the exact opposite ramifications.

Thirty years ago, President Bill Clinton brought Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin and Yasir Arafat together in September 1993 to sign the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn. The peace accords culminated with a dramatic handshake between the Israeli prime minister and the PLO terrorist. At the time, many hailed this achievement as the beginning of a new era of peace in the Middle East. Others were much more suspicious of Arafat’s sudden willingness to cast off his diabolically evil ways and abandon his Kalashnikov for an olive branch.


The infamous Rabin-Arafat handshake set into motion a nightmarish sequence of events. Oslo led to an obsessive fixation by international political leaders who began planning various ways on how best to partition the Land of Israel and when to divide up Jerusalem. Just a few years later, the emboldened Palestinian Arabs launched the bloody intifada brutally terrorizing Israeli Jews and murdering thousands.

The Rabin-Arafat handshake led directly to a growing tidal wave of terrorism that boiled over with the Hamas massacre of October 7. Rather than a symbol of goodwill, Israel supporters will always look dubiously upon the handshake and see it as a naive gesture that unnecessarily led to great pain and suffering.


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Rabbi Tuly Weisz is the director of and the editor of “The Israel Bible,” the best-selling Tanakh highlighting the relationship between the Land and People of Israel. Rabbi Weisz is dedicated to building healthy relationships between Jews and Christians in support of Israel. He lives with his family in Ramat Beit Shemesh and can be reached at [email protected].