Anwar_Sadat_800x600Thirty-eight years ago on November 19th, 1977, Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt, arrived in Israel to initiate an unprecedented process that would lead to a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel two years later. His choice to go to Israel at Prime Minister Begin’s invitation, meet with Begin and address the Knesset was seen as one of the most courageous and risky decisions ever made by a modern head of state.

Unlike so many of his brother Arab leaders, he was willing to ignore past Arab-Israeli hatreds. Unlike them all, he was daring enough to do what had been unthinkable in the anguished world of Arab politics – to extend the hand of peace to the Israeli foe. Reversing Egypt’s longstanding policy, he proclaimed his willingness to accept Israel’s existence as a sovereign state.excerpted from the New York Times obituary

In his speech to the Knesset, Sadat said:

Ladies and Gentlemen, there are moments in the life of nations and peoples when it is incumbent on those known for their wisdom and clarity of vision to overlook the past, with all its complexities and weighing memories, in a bold drive towards new horizons.

Any life lost in war is a human life, irrespective of its being that of an Israeli or an Arab. A wife who becomes a widow is a human being entitled to a happy family life, whether she be an Arab or an Israeli. Innocent children who are deprived of the care and compassion of their parents are ours, be they living on Arab or Israeli land. They command our top responsibility to afford them a comfortable life today and tomorrow.

In 1978 Sadat and Begin received the Nobel Peace Prize.

Sadat was assassinated by members of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad in October of 1981. Although there were many factors that contributed to his assassination, his willingness to recognize Israel and forge a peace treaty with the Jewish State was extremely controversial in some circles. (For those of you who visited the Rabin exhibit you will recognize certain similarities.)

After Sadat’s visit to Israel, Israeli musician David Broza composed one of his most powerful and popular songs: Yihyeh Tov (Everything Will Be Okay). David Broza was here in Colorado a few years ago and he ended the concert with this song. You can listen to it here.