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I can't confirm that Senator Kennedy called the White House before flying to Jerusalem for Yitzhak Rabin's funeral or that he brought a full sack of earth, but I was actually there at the moment. Very few people were allowed into the private burial at Mount Herzl after the multitudinous public funeral. There was a crush of people. At one point I found myself pressed against the massive back of a very large man. He managed to turn around and suddenly I found myself face to face with Ted Kennedy. I said it was an honor to meet him and that I had become a US citizen at the Kennedy building in Boston. He acted like a shy uncle: he pulled his son Patrick closer and asked "may I introduce my son?" Then he asked if he could ask me something. Struggling against the compression, he pulled a little sandwich baggie half-filled with dirt out of his pocket asked if it might offend sensibilities if he were to place some earth from his brothers' graves on Rabin's grave. He specified that he would not want to offend Leah Rabin. I suspect he may have other people as well.

Another memorable instant from the event was that Queen Nour of Jordan, who almost could not stop crying throughout, at one point found herself struggling with two very full fistfuls of used tissues. She was standing in the front row of mourners and though there were no cameras allowed, she started looking for some solution. Her husband stared resolutely ahead and didn't budge. Peres was oblivious. No one reacted. Bill Clinton stood on the other side of her and when he realized her distress he simply grabbed the wet tissues and stuffed them into his suit pockets.

As the ceremony ended Hosni Mubarak seemed to be making a clean break for it but Clinton physically intervened and basically strong-armed Mubarak back to the small burial plot to pay his respects to Leah Rabin before leaving. This caused a considerable commotion among the Egyptian security guards.