web analytics
December 10, 2016 / 10 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘peres’

Peres, Sharon, Barak, Star in Campaign for Ma’ale Adumim Sovereignty

Sunday, October 30th, 2016

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy: Israel’s late ninth president, Shimon Peres, will star posthumously in a giant campaign promoting the annexation of Ma’ale Adumim, a town just four miles east of Jerusalem. Established in the early 1970s as an IDF post, Ma’ale Adumim received its status as a city in 1991, and today has close to 40,000 residents. Its unique location means that, should it receive Israeli sovereignty, the Jewish urban sprawl of Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem would forever thwart Arab hopes of establishing a geographically contiguous Palestinian State.

The new campaign is banking on the fact that all of Israel’s past mainstream politicians have supported the settlement enterprise, even if some of them later became its sworn enemies. And so, under the slogan “Continuing in their Path,” the campaign banners quote Shimon Peres’ statement: “The development of Ma’ale Adumim will secure the defenses of Jerusalem”; late prime minister and destroyer of Jewish Gaza Ariel Sharon: “Ma’ale Adumim will be built as part of the State of Israel for eternity”; settlements foe and former prime minister, Ehud Barak: “Everything you build in Ma’ale Adumim remains part of the State of Israel forever, period”; and the destroyer of the Jewish city of Yamit, the late Menachem Begin: “I bless the establishment of Ma’ale Adumim. The only viable option is our rule in Judea and Samaria.”

The intentional irony of the campaign, targeting an Israeli Jewish public out of which a consistent 80% have been telling pollsters they support imposing Israeli sovereignty on Ma’ale Adumim, with or without a peace agreement, was not lost on Israel’s combative left. MK Michal Rozin (Meretz) said Saturday night that “usurping the character and works of the late Shimon peres such a short time after his death to promote Greater Israel is a disgrace. This is a cynical use of the Israeli consensus to destroy the Zionist dream.”

The campaign will feature giant billboards at the entrance to Jerusalem and around the Knesset, as well as newspaper ads, a Facebook page called “Sovereignty in Ma’ale Adumim,” and a website named Ribonut (Sovereignty).

Maale Adumim Mayor Benny Kashriel said the campaign “expresses the clear position of the majority of the people who want to continue the Zionist vision and the settlement enterprise. It’s been 50 years since the city of Jerusalem was united and we returned to our historic homeland regions. All the governments of Israel have developed the area and we wish to continue the path of the leaders of Israel and the Zionist movement and impose Israeli sovereignty on the city of Ma’ale Adumim. This is how we will fulfill the vision of all our past prime ministers, both from the left and from the right, since the city’s inception.”

JNi.Media

Clubbing us with the ‘Peres Legacy’

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

It was predictable. Shimon Peres barely had five days of rest in his fresh grave on Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem before the Obama administration began to use the “Peres legacy” as a club with which to browbeat the Netanyahu administration.

Responding to plans for expansion of the Shvut Rachel neighborhood in the Shiloh settlement in Binyamin (in order to compensate homeowners of the nearby Amona outpost, ahead of a court-ordered December demolition), the State Department went berserk on Wednesday.

“Proceeding with this new settlement is another step towards cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. Such moves will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from many of its partners, and further call into question Israel’s commitment to achieving a negotiated peace,” boiled John Kerry’s spokesman, Mark Toner.

And then he added this kicker, evoking the passion of Peres for Palestinian statehood as the ultimate moral compass: “Furthermore, it is disheartening that while Israel and the world mourned the passing of President Shimon Peres, and leaders from the US and other nations prepared to honor one of the great champions of peace, plans were advanced that would seriously undermine the prospects for the two state solution that he so passionately supported.”

In other words, the ghost of Peres is the new cudgel to be wielded against Prime Minister Netanyahu and anybody that runs afoul of US President Obama’s ideological commitment to “justice” for the Palestinians.

That’s what Obama was saying when he spoke at the state funeral on Mt. Herzl last Friday about Peres’ “moral ‎vision” and passion for “justice”; contrasted with his concerns about those who only ‎see “the true wickedness of the world.”

That’s what Obama meant when he spoke ‎about the “dehumanizing” and “unfinished business” of peacemaking with Palestinians, and ‎talked about security that can come only from “true peacemaking,” and by ending ‎Israel’s “slave”-like rule over the Palestinians.‎

I immediately understood Obama’s speech as a warning of “tough love” that can yet be ‎expected of him in the waning days of his presidency, and beyond; of determined action in support of “justice” for the Palestinians (– yes, there is that word again!) that Obama will yet dish out while citing the legacy of Peres as cover.

He is citing the “legacy” of Peres as cover for pressure on Israel, and brandishing Peres’ so-called peace bequest as a battering ram.

Alas, the love expressed for Israel by the scores of kings, princes, presidents, premiers, and ministers who flocked to Jerusalem last week for the Peres funeral is largely a love for the Israel of Oslo; the Israel that makes broad concessions and takes delirious risks for peace, etc.

It is almost as if Israel can be loved only if it talks and walks in Peres’ footsteps. If Israel ‎chooses a different path – which it clearly has after 23 years of Oslo-spawned ‎diplomatic disaster – it can’t be deserving of the world’s love. Unfortunately, this is the tone that runs as an undercurrent through much of the international media comment following the passing of Peres.

This is also the not-so-subtle anti-Netanyahu diplomatic discourse underlying the otherwise deserved paeans of praise to Peres. To wit: ‘Oh, what visionary and sophisticated and broad-minded leaders ‎Israel once had, and what hard-headed, small-minded, dark and ‎depressing leaders Israel has today!’

SO WHILE DEEPLY appreciative of the fact that many statesmen, dukes, dames and duchesses arrived in Israel on short ‎notice from all corners of the world to attend last week’s grand funeral, I nevertheless have to wonder whether the extraordinary event isn’t going to boomerang on Israel; to be used a bludgeon against the current government of Israel.

I ask: Will the Peres-legacy-animated friends of Israel be there for the people of Israel and ‎the State of Israel not just at funeral time or peacetime, but also in times of crisis? Will they stand up for Israel also when it runs into conflict and needs their hard-‎core political, not just sentimental, backing?

After all, Israel’s reality is a Hobbesian one, with conflict and the use ‎of hard power a foreseeable and persistent feature of this country’s political future. In addition, significant Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, civilian or military, is not in the cards any time soon, if ever; all the pining for Peres notwithstanding.

So when the Israel Defense Forces next have to crush the Iranian-backed Hamas and ‎Hezbollah armies that are arrayed on our southern and northern borders – armed as ‎they are with hundreds of thousands of missiles aimed at this tiny state – will global leaders ‎support Israel or condemn her? ‎

Will they rush to take our side as they rushed to last Friday’s funeral, or will they hurry to ‎indict us in the courts of global opinion as they have done too many times in past?‎

When the IDF is forced to interdict Palestinian terrorists planning to blow up Israeli ‎buses and cafes, requiring mass arrests or significant crackdown in Hebron, will they ‎show understanding and love for Israel as they showed for Peres?

Or will American presidents and European prime ministers ‎extend to us only “tough love” leading to unfair rebuke; warn of our “deepening ‎isolation”; and point to settlements as “proof” that Israel is the warmonger?

Take Prince Charles, for example. He has visited Israel only twice – for the funerals of Yitzhak Rabin and Peres. He comes to bury Israeli leaders. Neither he, nor any ‎other member of the British royal family ever has made a proper visit to Israel.

In ‎close to 70 years, no British royal has visited the Knesset, Yad Vashem, the Old City of ‎Jerusalem, or the vineyards of Judea. The living, breathing, renaissance of the Jewish ‎people in their ancient homeland doesn’t rank a visit. Only funerals cut it.‎

Unfortunately, such tentative, tenuous support for Israel is becoming more and more ‎politically correct in global capitals. On our toughest existential issues (like the conflict ‎with Palestinians and with Iran) we are not so beloved.‎

So excuse me if I am a somewhat skeptical of the love lavished on Shimon Peres and on Peres’ dreamy vision for Israel last weekend. We should appreciate such friendship, but remain a bit wary of ‎it too.

David Weinberg

Netanyahu to Rename Dimona Nuclear Facility After Peres

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the start of his Sunday morning weekly Cabinet meeting, announced that he plans “to have the Nuclear Research Center-Negev renamed after the late Shimon Peres. Shimon Peres worked greatly to establish this important enterprise for the security of Israel for generations, and I think that it would be right and proper to rename the center after him.”

Peres is widely regarded as the founder of Israel’s nuclear research. He established collaboration treaties with France’s nuclear industry in 1954, through personal meetings with French government officials. As Director General and later Deputy-Minister of Defense, Peres controlled all aspects of Israel’s nuclear program.

“The idea and its implementation aroused the ire of many against me,” Peres described his Dimona project. “There were those who claimed nothing would come of all this. Others sought to prove that the idea was impossible to realize, and some prophesied that if we even tried to go in the direction I suggested, the whole world would turn against us, and Dimona would bring upon us a terrible war.” Instead, he pointed out, “the reactor undoubtedly gave Israel a new dimension. It is the greatest compensation for the country’s small size. Technology here constituted compensation for territory, for geography. And it is okay that the reactor is always mysterious and ambiguous because it is clear enough to serve as a deterrent to enemies, and ambiguous enough not to arouse the fury of the world. It gave Israel self-confidence. Everyone felt that the option to destroy us passed from the world.”

According to its official website, work on the Nuclear Research Center NEGEV (NRCN) began bac in 1959, as part of the national policy to develop the Negev desert. The IRR-2 reactor operates on the NRCN with nuclear fuel and heavy water, cooled and moderated.

Periodic authorizations to operate the reactor are granted following extensive safety tests.

The research conducted at the NRCN is designed to broaden the basic knowledge in nuclear sciences and adjacent fields, and to provide the foundation for the practical and economic utilization of nuclear energy.

A national radioactive waste disposal site is situated within the NRCN. Radioactive waste from hospitals, research institutions, higher education facilities and factories is delivered to the site.

JNi.Media

Shimon Peres And Zehut

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Two events, which on the surface are completely unrelated, have wondrously come together.

The first looked like a watershed event, all the world’s leaders honored it with their presence. The second seemed unimportant, out of the limelight, almost unknown.

The first event was the funeral of Shimon Peres. Nobody missed it. Our entire country came to a standstill. The second event was the distribution of the Zehut platform to our party members, which took place last week in Tel Aviv. This event didn’t make any headlines and only those who attended even knew about it.

With my morning coffee, I watched, as usual, the first rays of sun rising over the mountains of the Shomron. I was trying to explain to myself why the funeral of Shimon Peres had turned into such a mega event. And then I realized. The two events – Peres’s funeral and the distribution of Zehut’s platform – were connected. Death and birth, literally in the same time frame.

With all due respect to the deceased, the steady stream of heads of state who arrived in Israel to attend Peres’s funeral was not commensurate with the man himself. An entire country does not close down for no good reason and the leaders of the world do not trouble themselves to fly to Israel just to attend the funeral of a public figure – as respected and famous as he may be.

Shimon Peres symbolized something. The man created a language and mentality that have determined the mindset and behavior of the State of Israel and, in great measure, the entire Western world for the last 25 years.

Peres accomplished much in his life. But without the Oslo Accords, there would have been no difference between the honor given him upon his passing and the honor merited by any other deceased Israeli public figure of similar stature.

Nothing of what we witnessed would have taken place without the Oslo Accords. Oslo is the heritage of Shimon Peres.

Peres’s words from the Knesset podium prior to the ratification of the Oslo Accords still echo in my ears. He turned to opposition head Binyamin Netanyahu and asked him:

“And what is your alternative?”

Netanyahu (and the entire Right) did not have an answer.

This lack of an alternative enshrined Oslo as the only language and mentality in Israel.

Even when Oslo exploded in our faces again and again and again, bombarding us with shocking images and news that we could have never dreamt up – buses blowing up, restaurants collapsing upon their customers, thousands of fatalities, tens of thousands of wounded, a deterioration of Israel’s international standing and right to exist as a Jewish state, an insufferable economic price and internal despair of any hope for change; even when our streets became filled with security guards, fences, and cement blocks; even after all the dead-end “rounds” of fighting and the scores of fatalities in every “round,” the inner goal of which were to prevent Israel’s victory and perpetuate Oslo; even after missiles rained down on Israel’s cities after Oslo’s architects promised that they never would – after all of this, Oslo has remained the only language that we speak. Simply because the Right has never proposed a different language.

Upon Shimon Peres’s passing, the heart of an entire world that does not know any other language – a world that lives and breathes Oslo-ese – skipped a beat. And exactly at the same time, on a narrow street in Tel Aviv, the new language – offered by Zehut – was revealed.

Rest in peace, Shimon. There is now an answer to your question.

The Nation of Israel has an alternative.

Moshe Feiglin

The Jewish Soul Of Shimon Peres

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Much will be written about the incredible life of Shimon Peres, who passed away last week at age 93, and it is not my intention here to present a comprehensive review of his fascinating biography or to praise his important contributions to Israel, which spanned many decades. Nor is it my intention to paper over what many felt were his misguided ideas and policies. Suffice it to say that his fierce dedication to Israel and its people is beyond dispute.

He is the only person ever to have served as both prime minister and as president of Israel, although he did lose five elections for prime minister, which may constitute the all-time historical record for futility by the nominee of a major political party seeking election as head of state.

singer-100716-peres

Peres was a principal player in the building of the state of Israel. Ironically, though touted around the world as a man of peace, he played a seminal role in engineering and advancing Israel’s military establishment, from acquiring weapons for the new Israeli army to developing Israel’s state-run military industries to being singularly responsible for the development of Israel’s nuclear capability.

Following the 1967 Six-Day War he championed the establishment of settlements under the slogan “Settlements Everywhere,” but he eventually changed course as he pursued his dream of a “New Middle East,” which would have entailed significant Israeli concessions as part of a hoped-for peace agreement.

But Peres’s legacy presumably will be defined by the important role he played as architect of the disastrous 1993 Oslo Accords (for which he was awarded the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize together with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO chief Yasir Arafat) and by his naïve trust in Arafat’s good intentions.

Though Peres was raised in a non-religious family and was not personally observant, he studied Talmud as a child with his maternal grandfather, the great Torah scholar Rav Tzvi Hirsh Meltzer, Hy”d, who had a great influence on his life. Rav Meltzer’s last emotional words to Shimon as his grandson immigrated with his family to Eretz Yisrael in 1934 were “Be a Jew!” and indeed he was.

In recognition of Peres’s deep respect for traditional Judaism, David Ben-Gurion often sent him to work with rabbinic leaders on critical religious matters, including the deferment of military service for yeshiva students. (Peres later recalled that whenever he met with the rabbis, “I felt like I was sitting with my grandfather.”) He also met frequently with the Lubavitcher Rebbe to discuss issues relating to Jewish identity in Israel, including many specifics regarding Russian immigrants.

Standing against his fellow secular Zionists, Peres opposed the elimination of traditional Judaism from the new Jewish state and throughout his life maintained a deep respect for Jewish customs and practices. For example, he declined to attend the Friday night opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympic games out of respect for Shabbat. In the historic June 30, 1994 correspondence written on his Minister of Foreign Affairs letterhead to Rav Menachem Porush and exhibited with this column, he displays further sensitivity to Shabbat observance:

As to your letter of 20 Tammuz, 1994 – in order to prevent the mass public desecration of Shabbat, we have expended great effort to ensure that Yoshev Rosh Ashaf [the head of the PLO, i.e., Yasir Arafat] will arrive in Gaza on Friday during the early afternoon hours.

Rav Porush (1916-2010) was an Israeli rabbi and politician (and longtime Jewish Press columnist) who served as a member of the Knesset, deputy head of the Jerusalem city council, and deputy minister of labor and social welfare.

singer-100716-from-peresThe background of the letter is fascinating. Arafat’s sudden announcement that, in his first trip to the Palestinian territories since 1967, he would be visiting the Gaza Strip – “I am coming home!” – had the Israeli government scrambling to make security arrangements. Prime Minister Rabin, committed to honoring the Oslo Accords regarding Palestinian self-government, agreed to a three-day visit and told his generals and security chiefs that the question was not whether Arafat would come but, rather, how Israel would manage the visit.

Though Arafat had not asked to come to Jerusalem, then-mayor Ehud Olmert expressed his belief that Arafat might try to sneak into the holy city on Shabbat, when religious Jews could not organize a protest. Thousands of Israelis opposed to the Oslo Accords jammed the center of Jerusalem in a wild demonstration and hundreds of policemen were posted in the Arab Old City as a precaution. Nevertheless, on Friday, July 1, 1994, Arafat made triumphant return to the Palestinian territories, though he was prevented from going to Jerusalem.

Finally, in Peres’s memory and in the spirit of the yamim noraim, exhibited with this column is a 23 Elul 1989 correspondence on his Minister of Foreign Affairs letterhead that evinces his knowledge of biblical verses, his respect for Jewish tradition, and the honor he accorded Rav Porush:

With greetings of the New Year, I extend to the Rav’s honor and to his entire household a good and blessed year, a year in which all your wishes be fulfilled with health and long years.May it be [Hashem’s] will that the year, may it come upon us for the good, will be a year of peace and serenity for Israel in our land and in our Diaspora, a year of the ingathering of exiles and, in the words of the verse from the weekly Torah portion: “And Hashem your God will return you to your home and will have compassion for you and gather you from among the nations which Hashem your God had dispersed you” (Deuteronomy 30).

Saul Jay Singer

Why the World Cried for Shimon Peres

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

A main part of the Rosh Ha’Shana holiday, which just finished, was the blowing of the shofar. As you know, each day we heard 100 shofar blasts. Did you ever ask yourself where that number came from? Why 100? What is the source?

The answer lies in the masterpiece sefer, Aruch, written by Rabbi Natan ben Yechiel (1030-1106). Rabbi Natan was a big Rav in Italy and we are familiar with him today because of two main reasons: His sefer mentioned above, Aruch, and also for his number one student; Rabbenu Tam. In his sefer, Rabbi Natan writes the reason for 100 shofar blasts: “It corresponds to the 100 sobs that were sobbed by Sisera’s mother.”

To remind you, Sisera was the general of the army that persecuted the Nation of Israel. According to Judges, chapter 4; “The Children of Israel cried out to Hashem, for Sisera had 900 iron chariots and he oppressed the Children of Israel forcefully for 20 years”. Israel was judged at that time by the prophetess, Devorah, who – together with her general, Barak – went to war to fight Sisera and his army. The main battle was held by Mount Tabor and, baruch Hashem, the Nation of Israel emerged victorious; “…the entire camp of Sisera fell by the edge of the sword, not even one was left”. As is common with Jewish enemies, Sisera left his men to die on the battlefield as he high-tailed it out of there! “Sisera fled on his feet and came to the tent of Yael…” According to the commentaries, Sisera then slept with Yael – who sacrificed herself for Israel by giving him warm milk and allowing this terrible act to take place. Immediately afterwards, Sisera fell into a nice cozy sleep and Yael then drove the tent peg through his temple. When General Barak passed her tent, Yael came out and said; “Come and I will show you the man whom you seek. He came to her and behold – Sisera was dead with the peg in his temple.” This event was so incredible that Devorah wrote an amazing poem (Shoftim, chapter 5) which we say each year as the Haftorah for parshat Shelach.

OK, now that we remember that, how can it possibly be that we blast the shofar 100 times because of Sisera’s mother? Sisera was evil and, had he won the war against Devorah and Barak, he would have killed every Jewish man, woman and child. His mommy cried when he didn’t return from that battle? Boo-hoo… Who cares?? It was either him or us! And the great Rabbi Natan ben Yechiel writes that we blast the shofar 100 times because of this Jew-hater’s mother’s cries?? Something doesn’t make sense.

Thankfully, I found the answer to this very puzzling question. Every week, I receive an email d’var Torah from Rabbi Pinches Friedman and he explained exactly what was going on – in a very deep and meaningful way. Rabbi Friedman quoted the Chassidic master, Rav Tzaddok HaKohen (1823-1900) in his sefer Risisei Layla, as saying that Sisera’s mother wailed 100 times because somehow she knew that Yael became pregnant from her son’s rape and that eventually, many generations later, the great Rabbi Akiva would be born from this line. In other words, she wasn’t crying over her son’s death… she was crying – because on that very night – her son gave life!

If you think this is crazy, quickly get a copy of the Talmud and turn to 96b in Sanhedrin. It says right there that “the descendants of Sisera learned Torah in Jerusalem.” Rabbi Friedman brilliantly proves his point by bringing the Dikdukei Sofrim which says, “the descendants of Sisera learned Torah in Jerusalem, namely Rabbi Akiva!”

How Sisera’s mother knew this, I don’t know, but maybe – to increase her pain – Hashem gave her a little “ruach Ha’Kodesh” so she could get some “nachas” and see what happened to her wonderful son. Not only did he miserably lose the war against the Jews – with every soldier of his dying in battle – he ran away like a chicken, stopping only to rape a Jewish woman… the wrong Jewish woman (as far as he was concerned!) because she bravely drove a tent peg into his head! But the story doesn’t end there. This night did not result in the end of the Jewish nation, as Sisera had planned.It was actually the reason for the continuation of our nation with the birth of Rabbi Akiva (many years later). After the destruction of the second Temple and the fall of Bar Kochba, it was Rabbi Akiva who gave semicha to 5 students (the most famous of whom are Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and Rabbi Meir Ba’al Ha’ness) who continued the Torah, as we know it. Had there been no Rabbi Akiva, there – quite possibly – would not be a Torah world today. Believe it or not – all that started with Sisera… and his mother knew it!

Therefore, when she cried 100 times, it was like the cries of a mother giving birth because Am Yisrael didn’t end that night… we were – in some way – actually born that night! That was something Sisera’s mother couldn’t deal with, so she cried and cried and cried…

This wonderful explanation of Rabbi Friedman actually solved a major puzzle in my mind that I couldn’t figure out. What was the reason – and I mean the real reason – why the world cried over the passing of Shimon Peres? Did they really love him? 70 world leaders came to Israel to cry over the death of a 93 year old man who hadn’t been in the Knesset for almost 10 years? Yes, he was president of Israel after the Knesset but that is not a position of power, so why the mourning, the grief and the tremendous outpouring of support?

My friend, Ben Packer, the Director of Jerusalem’s Heritage House, said it best in an article he wrote last week: “The world loved Shimon Peres because they thought he was the best chance they had at getting rid of or weakening the Jewish presence in Israel. And they are truly sad because that hope just died.”

I agree with Ben and would like to expand on it a bit. Think of what I just wrote about Sisera’s mother and why she cried. She cried for the same reason why Obama, Clinton, Kerry and the other world leaders cried – not because of death – but because of “Am Yisrael Chai”!!! They cried because they thought that Shimon Peres’ dream of “A New Middle East” (the name of his book) would come to fruition but now they saw that “The Old Middle East” is alive and well. The Jewish nation is thriving, building, growing and connecting to authentic Torah values. All studies in Israel show that the youth are more connected to Jewish tradition than ever before and more Jews will fast this Yom Kippur than ever in history!

We are alive and we are here to stay. The old Zionist leadership – of which Peres was the last man standing – which dreamed of a Hebrew speaking Singapore is out of style. Yes, Lapid is now trying to take the place of those leaders but he will fail. Am Yisrael is stronger than ever and there is nothing that Sisera’s mother or 70 world leaders can do about it… except cry… as we blow the shofar.

Shmuel Sackett

Shimon Peres’ Final Rosh Hashana Gift to the World

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

Many have already written about the extraordinary scene we witnessed last Friday: the funeral of Shimon Peres, an extraordinary man who led an extraordinary nation.

 

The exceptional scene was made even more remarkable by the fact that it took place on the morning before Parshat Nitzavim would be read in the synagogues (a fact which President Obama alluded to in his speech) and just a few days before Rosh Hashana.

Peres himself was, of course, an extraordinary person.  It’s not that everyone agreed with his positions or his actions.  I certainly didn’t. And it seems that neither did just about anyone else; in fact, during his long political career he managed to do at least one thing that angered pretty much everybody.  But, as Herb Keinon pointed out last week in the Jerusalem Post, the flip side of that is that he also did something else that just about everyone approved of.  And as Amotz Asa-El wrote (also in last week’s Post), it was in the final phase of his career, when he led the country as President, that he became the collective grandfather that the country adored and the world almost universally respected.

Asa-El also pointed out that the extraordinary nature of the event goes beyond Peres himself.  After all, Peres’s life story mirrored the path traveled by his entire nation during that same time period.  When Shimon was born in Poland shortly after World War I, the Jewish people were not in a good situation, by any measure.  But his funeral in Jerusalem 93 years later took place in an entirely different reality that was frankly unfathomable even just a few decades ago ,when Peres was Prime Minister.

The sight of the leaders of over seventy nations flying to Jerusalem on two days’ notice to pay their final respects to a retired statesman from a tiny country of 7.5 million people may be completely unprecedented in human history. And its full significance might become a bit clearer if we ponder another interesting fact: On the day of Peres’ funeral, in accordance with a proclamation issued by President Obama, flags were flown at half-mast at U.S. government buildings around the world.  It turns out that it is quite rare for the U.S. to honor a foreign leader this way.  In fact, only seven other people have ever been accorded this sign of respect.  Here’s the full list:

  • 1961 – U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold
  • 1965 – British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
  • 1981 – Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat
  • 1995 – Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin
  • 1999 – Jordanian King Hussein
  • 2005 – Pope John Paul II
  • 2013 – South African revolutionary and President Nelson Mandela

Together with Peres, this means that a total of eight foreign leaders have been honored this way by the U.S.A.

Now look again at this list of the eight people who, according to the world’s greatest democracy, have made the most positive impacts on the world. Two out of the eight were Israeli Prime Ministers (making Israel the only country represented more than once).  Another two were Arab leaders who were honored for making peace with Israel.  And one can also add that Winston Churchill’s greatest achievement was helping to defeat Nazi Germany, and that Pope John Paul II was noteworthy to a very large extent because of the significant steps he took to improve his church’s relations with the Jewish People.  That leaves only two of eight great people whose mark on humanity didn’t relate very directly to the tiny nation known as the people of Israel.

Which brings me to the incredible timing of Peres’ funeral, the morning before Shabbat Parshat Nitzavim.  It was, after all, in yesterday’s Torah portion that we read the Biblical prophecy promising that one day, after centuries of exile, we will return to our land:

“It will be that when all these things have come upon you – the blessing and the curse that I have presented before you – that you will take it to your heart among all the nations where Hashem, your God, has dispersed you. And you will return unto Hashem your God and listen to His voice…then Hashem, your God, will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you, and He will gather you in from all the peoples to which Hashem, your God, has scattered you. If your dispersed will be at the ends of heaven, from there Hashem, your God, will gather you in and from there he will take you. Hashem, your God, will bring you to the Land that your forefathers possessed and you shall possess it; He will do good to you and make you more numerous than your forefathers.” (Devarim 30:1-5, Artscroll translation)

The sight of all these world leaders flocking to Jerusalem – the sovereign capital of the Jewish people, regardless of where their embassies are – to pay their respects to the last of Israel’s founding fathers marks another stage in the manifest fulfillment of this prophecy.

It is also eloquent testimony to the fact that the entire world recognizes the importance of the Jewish People.  For some reason, many of us often have trouble understanding this, but pretty much the entire rest of the world sees it. This makes Peres’ funeral an incredible Kiddush shem Shamayim, sanctification of God’s name.

And the Kiddush Hashem was greatly magnified and increased by the fact that Peres himself, a man not who was not generally associated with religion, specifically asked in his will for the prayer Avinu Malkeinu to be sung there.

Was there some kind of Divine inspiration behind this?  Could Peres have possibly known that he would be buried so close to Rosh HaShana?  I have no idea.  But it is incredibly fitting that this was the final point in the great and long legacy of Shimon Peres: The scene of the leaders of most of the world’s nations solemnly listening to a Rosh Hashana prayer, less than 72 hours before the Jewish people will gather to recite that very prayer, as well as many others for the peace and well-being of the entire world.

Rabbi Alan Haber

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/shimon-peres-final-rosh-hashana-gift-to-the-world/2016/10/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: