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September 30, 2016 / 27 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘President Shimon Peres’

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.

JNi.Media

Peres Talks Gaza with Quartet Envoy

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

“Yesterday Egypt suggested a ceasefire to open a window of opportunity to bring the fighting to an end.  This morning the Israeli Security Cabinet accepted the ceasefire. Hamas isolated itself, the world calls upon them to end the fire. If they continue despite the proposal they will only bring more suffering to their people,” Peres said.

Peres praised the strength of the Israeli public and said, “Israel will continue to defend itself – it is our moral responsibility and our sovereign right. Terrorists aim to kill innocent civilians. Mothers and children. Jews and Arabs. However, the rockets did not achieve their aim. The strength of our army, our technological edge and the courage of our people allows Israel to stand strong. The Israeli public stood steadfast in the face of this ongoing provocation.”

“We all wish to lower the flames, we want an end to the fighting and we hope to see it soon.  But there can be no compromise with terror.  No more rockets. No more terror. Many of our neighbors stand with us in this fight. It is a global threat,” Peres said.

President Peres also addressed the Palestinian people directly, saying “The Palestinian people are not our enemies, the people of Gaza are not our enemies.  We share the same aim, which is an end to terror, security and calm for civilians everywhere. We must return to peace talks to achieve the only viable, long term solution – two states for two peoples.

“I want to say something to the people of Gaza. This was the third major escalation in the past 6 years. Each time it is innocent civilians that suffer and pay the price.  Rockets and terror bring you no closer to your national aspirations. Terrorism will not deliver for the Palestinian people. The children of Gaza deserve the same opportunities as children everywhere which is to be secure and free.

“But Hamas continues to hold them hostage. They seek death over life.  President Abbas is not only a partner for Israel but is the best hope for the Palestinians for a future of stability, respect, independence and prosperity. He is a man of peace, a responsible leader. Our hand will always be raised to defend ourselves against those who seek to harm us. And stretched out in friendship to those who seek peace,” Peres said.

For his part, Tony Blair said “the ceasefire is important because it gives us the opportunity to stop the tragic loss of life, the misery and the fear. The number of people who have died in Gaza is indeed tragic, people in Israel in these last days living in fear of terror and rocket attacks.”

Blair also noted that the ultimate success of a Palestinian state, which the Quartet supports, will be conditional on the complete cessation of rocket fire at Israeli.

“The (goal of the ceasefire is not the immediate cessation of rockets, but rather) to bring genuine hope for the future for the people of Gaza, to have Gaza opened up again to the world, to have Gaza and the West Bank re-united but to do so in a way that gives real and permanent security to the people of Israel, the freedom from rocket attacks, from tunnels, from terrorism.

“The international community is fully behind the efforts and will continue to be so,” Blair said.
 

Meir Halevi Siegel

MKs to Peres: Ask Obama to Free Pollard

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

President Shimon Peres met this morning met with Esther Pollard and the heads of the Knesset Caucus to Free Jonathan Pollard, MK Nachman Shai and MK Ayelet Shaked. The meeting took place one day before the president is scheduled to depart for his final official foreign visit, to the United States, where he will meet with President Obama and deliver a speech in Congress.

Esther Pollard, Jonathan’as wife, began by thanking President Peres and said, “I am grateful to you, Mr. President, for receiving us so close to your departure to the United States. Jonathan’s health has deteriorated and his situation is serious. I hope that now, after 30 years, your request for his release will be heard.”

The Campaign Coordinator of the campaign to free Jonathan Pollard, Efi Lahav said, “We know that you, Mr. President, have made significant efforts during your term in office and now we believe in your ability to persuade the President of the United States. We believe your upcoming visit to the US is the most serious opportunity yet to release Jonathan Pollard.”

President Peres said he would raise the request based upon humanitarian grounds with President Obama and with the senior leadership of the United States, “It is a national responsibility to work to free Pollard, I will speak to the President of the United States on behalf of the people of Israel. I intend to do this during my meetings in Congress and at the White House.”

MK Ayelet Shaked said, “You have done a lot on behalf of the State of Israel and the people of Israel both in Israel and abroad – I believe that only you can use your influence on the American leadership to bring Jonathan home.” MK Nachman Shai said, “There is a national consensus, which crosses party divides in the Knesset, of Jews and Arabs who agree that Jonathan Pollard must be released. I believe that if the President of the United States hears from you that the issue is important to you and to the people of Israel there will be progress.”

Meir Halevi Siegel

Peres to Award Merkel for Fighting Anti-Semitism

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

President Shimon Peres will confer the Presidential Medal of Distinction on German Chancellor Angela Merkel next Tuesday for “her unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and the fight against anti-Semitism.” His office stated Thursday,

The medal, the highest civilian award in Israel and comparable to the Legion of Honor of France and the Order of Canada, is crowned with the words from Samuel 9:2 “from his shoulders and upward.”

Merkel’s visit to Israel will be focused on issues of the Palestinian Authority, Iran and German-Israeli relations.

Peres stated that “Merkel sets a wonderful example on education against anti-Semitism, racism and hate and works tirelessly to expand the work being done on these issues with the aim of educating future generations in Germany towards equality, tolerance and acceptance of the other.”

Previous winners of the award have included President Barack Obama, former US President Bill Clinton, Elie Wiesel, former U.S. Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Peres Can’t Leave His Ghetto Mentality

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

President Shimon Peres met with the Congressional Black Caucus in Jerusalem Tuesday and whined about the long-suffering Jews whose only friend on Planet Earth is the United States, may it live another 120 years.

“We’re fortunate to have our special relations with America, we’re alone, isolated and often attacked, and you support us not because of oil but because of values,” Peres said. “When it comes to defending our land, there was no request which President Obama did not accept.

“President Obama and Secretary Kerry are trying to bring peace to this region. Secretary Kerry’s contribution has been incredible,” he said. “This is a small country with a long history and while it is not simple, it can be done.”

Poor, poor Israel, So isolated. So often attacked. Just like in Europe. Just like in Spain, Just like in the Crusades, Just line under the Roman and Greek empires.

Forget Israel under Kings Saul, David and Solomon. Forget the First and Second Holy Temples. They only were footnotes to the suffering Jew, with his wretched hand held out for support from the high and mighty, from the United States of America, from President Barack Obama himself.

Peace, peace, peace, says Peres. Just give us peace. Take our land. Sure, it is where we live and used to live, but the Arabs need another country, and charity begins away from home.

We have the whole Negev to ourselves. Sure, the Bedouin are taking it over, but we still control Be’er Sheva. And it has the country’s largest mall.

And Kerry really is incredible. He has promised us peace, so let’s make the painful concession of giving up our ability to defend ourselves and considering Israel a Jewish state.

After all, with friends like the United States, we don’t care about enemies. Just look how Obama stared down Assad. Look how he outsmarted Iran. Look how he has stabilized Egypt.

If Peres has his way, Israel will always be poor, poor Israel.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Hillary Clinton, Peres Praise Bronfman at Memorial

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Israeli President Shimon Peres paid tribute to Edgar Bronfman at a public memorial service Tuesday night.

More than 1,000 people, including top Jewish communal leaders and alumni of the Bronfman Youth Fellowship program, turned out for the service held at Lincoln Center in New York.

Bronfman, who took over the family’s Seagram beverage empire and served as president of the World Jewish Congress, died in December at 84.

Clinton hailed Bronfman as a “champion for justice and human dignity,” recalling among other things his fight to secure restitution from Swiss banks for Holocaust victims and their relatives. She drew laughs as she recounted her personal run-ins with his sharp wit and outspokenness.

In a videotaped message, Peres praised Bronfman for his willingness to defend Jewish rights around the world, while also speaking out against things that troubled him in his own community.

Other speakers included sons Samuel Bronfman II, Edgar Bronfman Jr., and Matthew Bronfman; grandson Jeremy Bronfman; Dana Raucher, the executive director of The Samuel Bronfman Foundation; and Rabbi Andy Bachman, the religious leader of Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn and a participant in Bronfman’s Torah study groups.

Another of Bronfman’s favorite rabbis, Angela Warnick Buchdal, opened and closed the service with a melody associated with the Havdalah ceremony marking the end of Shabbat.

Samuel Bronfman II choked up as he recalled his own kidnapping nearly 40 years ago and his father’s response. In particular, he said, he was moved by his father’s willingness to meet the kidnappers’ demand that he personally deliver the ransom money – despite being advised against it by law enforcement officials.

Matthew Bronfman reflected on his father’s time as president of the WJC, including the battles against the Swiss Banks and his fight to expose the Nazi past of Kurt Waldheim. He recalled his father’s willingness, at a meeting in the Kremlin, to interrupt a long-winded Mikhail Gorbachev in order to move the discussion to the cause of Soviet Jewry.

Echoing several speakers, Edgar Bronfman Jr. described his father as interested in getting things done, with little patience for small talk or idle speculation. To hammer home the point, he recalled his father’s response to a Soviet diplomat who asked how history would have been different had Soviet President Nikita Khrushchev been assassinated instead of President John F. Kennedy.

“Well,” he quoted his father as saying, “Mr. Onassis would not have married Mrs. Khrushchev.”

JTA

Peres: Listen to What Rouhani Did not Say

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

President Shimon Peres found himself in rare agreement with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at Davos Thursday in denouncing the speech by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the 2014 World Economic Forum.

After the Prime Minister warned everyone not be deceived by Rouhani’s smiles, Peres said at a press conference, “The most significant remarks were the ones he didn’t make – he didn’t express support for peace in the Middle East. He is the only leader I know who didn’t say clearly the time has come to make peace between Israel and the Arabs.

“He excluded the reference to peace and when he was asked if his vision included all countries he said it included only the ones that Iran will accept, that is some definition.

“He didn’t announce that in order to reduce the bloodshed in Syria, he’s going to stop sending arms and money to Hezbollah to the stop the killing. He could have announced that seeing as he doesn’t want a nuclear bomb that he will stop building long range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

“He didn’t announce that Iran will stop being the center of terror in our time. “

Lest anyone think that President Peres’ vision of the world might have improved, he put them at ease by stating his support for U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. “I believe President Obama is trying to do the right thing and the US has decided not to stop the sanctions fully until they see the results,” Peres declared.” Secretary Kerry is doing an excellent job with dynamism and determination. There are different opinions, different options and it is normal that they are being examined.”

Jewish Press News Briefs

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