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October 25, 2016 / 23 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘David Ben Gurion’

Shimon Peres Dead at 93

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

By Michael Bachner/TPS

Former president, prime minister, statesman and Nobel Peace Laureate Shimon Peres has died at the age of 93. He passed away during the early morning hours of September 28 at Sheba Medical Center in Ramat Gan after suffering a severe stroke two weeks ago, on September 13. Peres’ condition had been improving, until it suddenly sharply deteriorated on Tuesday and he was pronounced dead at 3:40 a.m. Israel time.

The hospital is due to make an official announcement at 7:00 a.m. local time.

Born in Poland in 1923 as Szymon Perski, Peres moved to Israel with his family in 1934 and rose to become one of the most prominent and influential figures in Israel’s history. He was one of the founders of Kibbutz Alumot in the north of the country, where he worked as a shepherd and a farmer, and in 1945 he married Sonya Gelman. They had three children together- Tsvia, Yoni and Chemi. Sonya Peres died in 2011 at the age of 87.

During a political career that spanned 73 years, Peres served as prime minister, president, and Knesset member for 47 consecutive years, the longest anyone has served in the Israeli parliament. He also published at least 11 books as well as hundreds of articles in newspapers and periodicals in Israel and around the world.

Peres’s political career began in 1941 when he was elected Secretary of Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed, the Labour party youth movement. David Ben Gurion then appointed him to the secretariat of Mapai, the party that later became Labour, and in 1946 Peres was chosen alongside Moshe Dayan as a youth delegate in the party’s delegation to the Zionist Congress in Basel.

In 1947 Shimon Peres joined the Haganah, the armed forces that later became the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). He became director-general of the Ministry of Defense in 1953, when he was only 29 years old. During the 1950s he played an important role in developing Israel’s defense industry, forming strong personal and political relations with French officials that resulted in many years of military aid, strong cooperation between the countries, and the establishment of Israel’s nuclear research center in Dimona.

Peres served two terms as prime minister, from 1984 and 1986 and 1995-6 following the murder of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. He was a member of 12 cabinets, holding positions including defense minister, foreign affairs minister and finance minister.

Peres was awarded the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize (together with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat) for his role in the 1993 Declaration of Principles signed between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Two years later he established the Peres Peace Center which aims to promote peace through cooperation and face-to-face interaction between Jews and Arabs.

After leaving the Labor Party in 2005 to join the more centrist Kadima faction, headed by Ariel Sharon, Peres was elected president by the Knesset in 2007, succeeding Moshe Katsav.

Peres ended his political career when his presidency term ended in 2014, but continued his involvement in public activities, primarily through the Peres Peace Center.

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Israel’s 9th President Shimon Peres Dead at 93

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

Shimon Peres, Israel’s ninth President, former Prime Minister, Nobel Prize winner, who served for nearly five decades as a member of the Knesset, passed away on Wednesday morning at age 93, following a severe stroke. He will be buried in a state funeral in the plot on Mt. Herzl dedicated to the nation’s great leaders. Peres was married to the late Sonia Peres who died in 2011. They had three children: Tsvia Walden, Yonatan (Yoni) Peres, and Nehemia (Chemi) Peres.

Peres was born on August 2, 1923 as Shimon Perski (a relative of Lauren Bacall a.k.a. Joan Persky), in Wiszniew, Poland (now Vishnyeva, Belarus). In 1934, together with his mother Sara and younger brother Gershon, they followed his father, who made aliyah in 1932. Peres grew up in Tel Aviv and studied at the Ben Shemen agricultural school. He met Sonia in Ben Shemen and they got married in 1945.

Peres became active in the Socialist youth movement Hanoar Haoved and in 1947 was recruited by Levy Eshkol to serve in the Hagana underground headquarters, alongside Eshkol and David Ben-Gurion. In 1953, after a stint as head of naval services in the newly formed IDF, Peres was appointed (at age 29) as Director of the Defense Ministry by Ben-Gurion.

His mission, and greatest achievement as head of Israel’s fledgling defense apparatus, was to turn Israel into a nuclear power. Peres began negotiations with the French in October 1956, during the Sinai War, which was a collaboration of Israel, France and Great Britain to take over the Suez Canal from the revolutionary government in Cairo. Peres stressed Israel’s loyalty to France and the fact that a strong Israel is vital to the French national interest, seeing as the Egyptians were supporting the Algerian FLN underground whose aim was to expel the French from North Africa.

According to Peres’ biographer Michael Bar Zohar, the birth of the Dimona nuclear plant was an exciting tale of intrigue, as the promise to provide the technology was made by French Defense Minister Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury, but on the date set for signing the secret deal, the French government collapsed in the National Assembly. Peres was waiting for Bourgès in his chambers with a bottle of whisky, only to discover that his host was out of office and that his likely successor, Gen. Charles de Gaulle, objected to spreading French nuclear know-how. Peres took advantage of the fact that Bourgès would on occasion tell his wife that he was in a meeting with the Israeli visitor when he was actually meeting with his lover, and demanded to cash his chips with the fallen politician. They agreed to backdate the agreement to the day before, when Bourgès still had the authority to sign it. The Frenchman said “D’accord” and the deal to set Israel up as the sole nuclear power in the Middle East was signed — fraudulently.

In 1959, Peres was elected to the Knesset as member of the ruling Mapai Party, and continued to serve as MK and in various ministerial positions, including as prime minister, almost uninterruptedly for 48 years. In 1965, Peres followed his mentor Ben-Gurion out of Mapai, and formed, together with former Chief of Staff Moshe Dayan, the Rafi party. After the 1967 war, an alignment of Mapai, Rafi and Ahdut Haavoda formed the Israel Labor Party, now also known as the Zionist Camp.

In 1973, after the Yom Kippur war which created a wave of anti-Labor sentiment in the public at large, and following the resignation of Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Dayan, only two labor senior politicians retained their public prestige: Shimon Peres and former Chief of Staff and Ambassador to the US Yizhak Rabin. Rabin won and went on to become prime minister, with Peres as his defense minister, and their campaign for the leadership of Labor started two decades of enmity combined with forced cooperation which culminated in Peres eventually presenting to Rabin the Oslo agreements as an almost fait accompli.

In 1976, as defense minister, Peres was responsible for the Antebe Operation. Meanwhile, his disagreements with Rabin led to the latter’s resignation and the 1977 elections that, for the first time in Israel’s history, placed Likud’s Menahem Begin at the country’s helm. In the 1980s, as Labor’s leader, Peres failed to gain a resounding victory over his rightwing foes, and ended up in a coalition government with Likud in which he and Yitzhak Shamir rotated in the role of prime minister. While serving as Shamir’s foreign minister, Peres launched the London Agreement, a precursor of the Oslo Accord, which was torpedoed by Shamir.

In 1992, with Rabin once again the leader, Labor won the elections and formed a narrow, leftwing coalition government that relied on the Arab votes in the Knesset. Peres and his emissary Dr. Yossi Beilin began secret, illegal negotiations with the PLO, which resulted in the August 20, 1993 Oslo deal. The agreement, which resuscitated a dying PLO and gave it dominion over the Gaza Strip, Judea and Samaria, resulted, as many had predicted, in rivers of blood, as the Arabs residing in the newly formed Palestinian Authority launched a campaign of bombing and shooting attacks against Israeli civilian centers. In 1995, on the eve of the next elections, Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated and replaced by Peres.

In 1996 Peres lost his final bid for sole possession of the Prime Minister’s office when he lost the election to newcomer Benjamin Netanyahu. The televised debate between them showed the nation a tired, old political hack versus a youthful and well spoken leader. Netanyahu succeeded in forming his first coalition government despite the fact that his party had won by a mere 30,000 votes.

At that point, possibly the lowest in his political life, Shimon Peres reinvented himself and began the next phase in his career, as statesman inspiring an entire world. He founded the Peres Center for Peace, and although he continued to serve in the Knesset and was member of Ehud Barak’s security cabinet, his goals have changed. In 2005 Peres resigned from the Labor party to join Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s government, to support the second assault on Jewish life in the 1967 liberated territories: the expulsion of the Jews of Gush Katif. His reward was his election by the Knesset to be Israel’s ninth president in 2007. He gained 58 out of the 120 MK votes in the first round (38 voted for Reuven Rivlin, 21 for Colette Avital). His opponents then threw their support to Peres in the second round and he received 86 votes, with 23 objections.

He spent his seven years in office in an indefatigable global activity, attending conferences, giving speeches around the planet, meeting world leaders and becoming synonymous with the image of Israel’s future as drawn by Israel’s leftwing. He maintained his rigorous schedule after the end of his term in 2014, until, two weeks ago, his body succumbed to a stroke.

His death marks the end of Israel’s generation of founding politicians. He will be remembered for his great contribution to the Jewish State’s military supremacy in the Middle East, but also for his grave mistakes in acting to reverse the same state’s remarkable territorial gains of 1967. May his memory be blessed.


The Knesset Museum That Almost Didn’t Happen

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Like the original Mishkan, until it found its current, permanent location the Knesset traveled a bit.

Before 1949, the Knesset met in the Tel Aviv Museum of Art in Dizengoff House (today Independence Hall), and in the “Kessem” movie house located at Knesset Square. On 26 December 1949, the Knesset moved to Jerusalem, where it held its first meetings in the Jewish Agency’s impressive semi-circular building in Rehavia.

In 1950, the Knesset moved to the Froumine (Frumin) House on 24 King George Street in Jerusalem, which was originally supposed to be a bank. It met there from 1950 to 1966, until it finally moved to where the Knesset building is located today, in Givat Ram in Jerusalem.

Exterior of the Froumine House.

Exterior of the Froumine House. Photo by: switch_1010

Here’s where the story gets silly.

Ze'ev Sherf, David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Sharett, and Haim-Moshe Shapira sitting at the government table in the Chamber at Froumine House - 1952

Ze’ev Sherf, David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Sharett, and Haim-Moshe Shapira sitting at the government table in the Chamber at Froumine House – 1952

After 1966, the government used the building to house different government offices.

In 2002, the government sold the building to a private investor for 10 million shekels.

But the government then realized it still needed the building for its government offices, so it began renting the building back from the new owner.

The new owner decided he wanted to tear down the old Knesset building and build a 16-story project on the site. He filed the papers, but the Council for The Society for Preservation of Israel Heritage Sites (SPIHS) protested and the project was halted.

The government then decided to buy the building back from the new owner for 45 million shekel (not a bad investment at all for that private owner).

In 2010, the government completed the repurchase and passed a law that the building and its interior must be preserved.

And now they are turning it into the Knesset Museum.

Knesset Museum Exterior Construction 2

Photo of the Day

Knesset Considers Bill to Require Zionism Course in Universities

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Israel is considering a bill to require Israeli universities to include a prerequisite course on Zionist concepts in their curricula.

The bill was submitted to the Knesset by Yisrael Beytenu Knesset Member Oded Forer.

The measure is intended to counter the anti-Israel trend that has been seen among many of the academics.

It is also hoped the course will help students become citizens who are more aware of their heritage.

The course is expected to include texts from founding fathers such as David Ben Gurion, Menachem Begin, Yitzchak Rabin, and others.

Hana Levi Julian

Rejuvenation: The Beginnings of Begin [audio]

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Yisrael Medad and 35 colleagues from Jerusalem’s Menachem Begin Heritage Center just spent a week literally walking thru the former Prime Minister’s early life in Poland to understand the man on an entirely new level. What’s shaped Begin’s ideology? How did he relate to David Ben Gurion, the dominant personality of the early years of pre-state and statehood? Was he a terrorist? Did he prevent a Jewish civil war? Eve Harow discusses with Yisrael the generation of (physically) small giants whose contributions from all sides of the political spectrum still resonate today.

The Land of Israel

Is Jerusalem Truly Israel’s Capital?

Saturday, June 4th, 2016

Since 2006 there are no foreign embassies in Jerusalem. This obviously reflects the reluctance of the entire world that does have diplomatic relations with the Jewish State to recognize its ownership of Jerusalem. It is a unique phenomenon in world affairs. Not only do the nations of the world not accept Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, the international community also regards about half of it, eastern Jerusalem, including the entire Old City, as part of the “occupied Palestinian territories,” and no one officially recognizes western Jerusalem as part of the territory of Israel either.

Under the United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1947, Jerusalem was going to be an international territory administered by the United Nations. In the 1948 war, the western part of the city was occupied by Israel, the eastern part by Jordan. And since the international community relies on the 1947 UN partition plan regarding the legal status of Jerusalem, it refuses to recognize Israeli sovereignty over any part of the city.

Israel, obviously, feels very differently about this matter: On December 5, 1949, Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, proclaimed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and in July 1980 Israel passed the Jerusalem Law, as part of its constitutional Basic Laws, declaring Jerusalem the “complete and united” capital of Israel.

Jerusalem, which for the first 19 years of the state was a remote, unsafe (Jordanian snipers), small and joyless (Tel Aviv ruled), was transformed after the 1967 liberation of the Old City and the holy sites, exactly 49 years ago Sunday. Today 10% of Israelis live in Jerusalem — 850,000, twice as many as live in Tel Aviv, three times as do in Haifa.

When King David conquered the city and purchased the top of Temple Mount, just under 3,000 years ago, the entire city area was probably about 60 hectares. Today it is about 2,000 times larger, with 125,156 hectares included in the Jerusalem municipality.

The first university in the Land of Israel, Hebrew University, was established in Jerusalem, in 1925. Today 17% of Israeli university students study there, and 26% of the Ph.D. candidates.

Many Israeli national institutions are located in the Government District in Givat Ram in Jerusalem, as a part of the National District. Some government buildings are located in the Menachem Begin District. The city is home to the Knesset, the Supreme Court, the Bank of Israel, the National Headquarters of the Israel Police, the official residences of the President and Prime Minister, the Cabinet, and all ministries except for the Ministry of Defense (Tel Aviv) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Rishon LeZion).

And so it is clear that no other issue separates Israel from the rest of the world as radically as that of Jerusalem’s status. Most Israelis born after 1967 naturally view Jerusalem as their unquestionable capital. Leftwing Israelis who would agree to handing over some or all of eastern Jerusalem to a future independent Palestinian entity, are probably not aware of the fact that the world does not differentiate between eastern and western Jerusalem, and regards neither as naturally belonging to Israel, never mind recognizing them as its capital.


This Day in History: Prime Minister Netanyahu Wins in Direct Elections

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

20 years ago today, on May 29, 1996, Benjamin Netanyahu was voted in for the first time as Prime Minister of Israel, beating out Shimon Peres in direct elections.

Netanyahu won 50.5% (1,501,023 votes) of the vote, while Peres received 49.5% (1,471,566 votes) of the vote.

Netanyahu was the youngest person ever to become prime minister of Israel.

Since then, he has become the 2nd longest serving prime minister after David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister. If his current coalition survives, Netanyahu will become Israel’s longest serving prime minister.

He is also the only prime minister to have been elected 3 times in a row, and has been elected a total of 4 times, the same as Ben-Gurion.

Photos of Netanyahu in 1996, following his victory:

Benjamin Netanyahu becomes prime minister

Leader of the Likud party and former prime minister Bibi Netanyahu visits the Western Wall

A young Netanyahu and a young Avigdor Libermnan in December 1996:

Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Liberman. December 25, 1996

Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Liberman. December 25, 1996

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/this-day-in-history-prime-minister-netanyahu-wins-in-direct-elections/2016/05/29/

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