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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Shimon Peres’

Obama Passes the Buck, Dumps Pollard Problem onto AG Eric Holder

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama doesn’t want to disappoint an old friend, nor does he want to end his presidency on a sour note with Israel, and he certainly wants to sidestep a political minefield.

What’s a president to do?

Faced with the eternal American dilemma over how to deal with the Jonathan Pollard debacle, it could be that Obama believed he had finally figured out a win-win solution to evade responsibility for the endless nightmare.

Let Eric make the call.

If Attorney-General Eric Holder recommends to let him go for whatever reason, Obama will be hailed as a hero by the Jews, and by the now-countless political and community leaders who have said for years Pollard should be freed. Justice will prevail and Israel will be grateful. Israeli and Jewish gratitude is a precious gift, because neither tends to forget their friends. Or their enemies.

If Holder recommends to keep him in jail for whatever reason, Obama will have someone else to blame.

He’ll also join the list of presidents before him who rejected a request from the State of Israel and ignored the Jews again. Pollard will likely die in prison, and Obama will go down in history as having been the president on whose watch justice was not served – along with all the others. He will be vindicated by the anti-Semites within the U.S. State Department and justice system, and vilified by a host of others. And life will go on.

So that’s the answer he gave his good friend Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday during a visit at the White House. Peres, who just turned 90 and who is ending his own term in office next month, is in Washington on a final state visit in that capacity.

By the way, it was Peres who was Israel’s prime minister when he handed over documents with Pollard’s fingerprints that were used to incriminate the Israeli agent and jail him for life, after being initially charged on a single count of passing classified information to America’s ally, Israel.

On Wednesday, he and Obama – the only two current heads of state to both have won the Nobel Peace Prize – met in the White House to discuss the matter. Peres had promised Pollard’s wife he would make one more try to convince Obama to grant her husband clemency – a presidential privilege used for humanitarian purposes.

Speaking with with uncharacteristic realism to Israeli media in Washington after his meeting with Obama, Peres briefed reporters on his attempt to secure freedom for Pollard, now entering his 29th year of incarceration in a U.S. prison.

But Obama ducked, apparently – and passed the buck to his attorney general.

Speaking with obvious reluctance, Peres told reporters in a briefing following the meeting, “I cannot say that he answered me on the spot. I don’t want to go with more than what he said,” Peres began. “He said the attorney general would [get involved.]

“His answer was, ‘The attorney general, it belongs to him. He will decide,’” Peres continued.

“There is a problem if I am optimistic, if I would say more than what he [actually] said,” Peres continued. “We have to cautious, and not to inflate or exaggerate … I asked specifically to be given the wording of what I could and could not say — and I have used precisely [the wording] that I was told I could say,” he concluded.

But it is very important to realize that the privilege of clemency — moderating the severity of a sentence in an act of mercy or leniency — is one unique to a president. Not an attorney general.

Obama Promises Peres A-G Will ‘Check Into’ Pollard

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama assured Israel’s outgoing President Shimon Peres on Wednesday he would ask Attorney-General Eric Holder to “check into” an offer that Peres made regarding the case of former Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard.

Peres’s office submitted his request to the White House prior to arriving for what will be his last official state visit as Israel’s president.

“I made an offer but won’t go into details about it,” he told reporters on Wednesday. However, he did discuss the specifics with members of the Pollard family, he said, before presenting the plan to Obama.

“If I share too many details it will just ruin things,” he said at the briefing. “I cannot say that [the president] responded positively on the spot. I don’t want to add to what he said, which was that the U.S. Attorney-General would decide.”

Pollard is entering his 29th year of incarceration in a North Carolina prison after being convicted in 1985 on a single charge of passing classified information to an allied nation, Israel. The crime usually carries a maximum penalty of up to four years in jail. But although Pollard’s attorneys worked out a plea bargain with the prosecution, during the sentencing a note was passed to the judge. Suddenly Pollard was charged with and convicted of treason without recourse to a new trial. His attorney had no access to the evidence that had apparently led to the new charges, which was locked due to “national security” — and instead Pollard found himself sentenced to life in prison. All attempts at appeal have since failed.

Since Peres was serving as Israel’s prime minister at the time of Pollard’s arrest, and since it was he who submitted the documents to the U.S. with Pollard’s fingerprints that were used to incriminate him, it is Peres who is most likely to persuade Obama now to grant clemency for humanitarian reasons.

He and Obama also share a unique status as being the only two current heads of state in the world who are both Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Pollard’s health has deteriorated significantly over the past several years, and the request by Peres is reportedly to be based on the issues of Pollard’s extremely poor health, the impact on his wife, and the length of his time already served — in short, humanitarian reasons. At age 90, Peres this year retires from politics and made a promise to Pollard’s wife and the people of Israel prior to his departure that he would try to win her husband’s release during his visit to the U.S. He is scheduled to meet again with Obama Thursday.

President Peres Meets with Esther Pollard Prior to His US Trip

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

JERUSALEM – President Shimon Peres met this morning (Jun. 22) with Esther Pollard, wife of incarcerated Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard, and the heads of the Knesset Caucus to Free Jonathan Pollard, MK’s Nachman Shai Ayelet Shaked, at the President’s residence in Jerusalem.
The meeting took place a day before Peres is scheduled to depart for his final foreign visit, to the United States, where he will meet with President Obama and deliver a speech at Congress. Esther Pollard, 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.”

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 added: “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.”

NRG reports that U.S. officials said in recent days to staff members of the campaign to free Pollard that after Pollard’s release was previously placed on the table by the US Government within the framework of a political deal tied in with the peace negotiations, it has been proven that there is no real reason to prevent Pollard’s release. They said that currently a political deal is not at hand, so it is now a question of a humanitarian gesture on the part of President Obama.

Israeli citizens recently launched a petition requesting that Peres return for the US with Jonathan pollard. “At this time, when the diplomatic process is not on the agenda, we ask that you become our advocate and that you bring to bear the full weight of your influence in the U.S. so that justice and compassion may prevail and Jonathan will be released without any further delay,” the petition reads. “We believe that there would be nothing more noble and just, than to use this unique opportunity to save a life.”

Peres Meets Hostage Families, Promises to Let Obama Know

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

President Shimon Peres met with the parents of Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shayer and Naftali Frenkel Thursday, embracing the families and listening to their experiences over the past week. The president assured the families that “the whole nation is united and standing by your side and praying with you for the safe return of your boys. The security forces are working day and night in every street and alley of Hebron and leaving no stone unturned in the effort to find your boys.”

”The security forces will do everything to bring the boys home,” Peres added.

Peres also addressed international reaction to the kidnapping, saying, ”The leaders of the world must make their voices heard loud and clear, they must take a strong stance against terror. Terror is a global problem, not just an Israeli one – we must recruit the world.”

Despite the visit and Peres’ strong expression of moral support, the meeting also raised questions that could make for an uncomfortable visit to Washington, D.C. next week. The president demanded the international community condemn the attack and act strongly to help Israel bring the boys home.

Peres also promised to inform US officials about the abduction. Washington, D.C. has apparently experienced a major, city-wide, unreported computer glitch in recent weeks; for that reason, President Barack Obama has remained silent on the crisis.

There is no indication whether Peres will be meeting with State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki, in order to furnish her with the name of Naftali Frenkel, the US citizen who has been held incommunicado for a week.

Lastly, the president added that he would “raise the cry of the people of Israel against terrorism, both in private and in public. We must continue to pressure the terrorists to remove their sources of funding. Just as there were sanctions against Iran we must raise the sanctions against any source of terror. They must be brought to justice. And we must call out, so that the children in countries which foster terrorism know that it is a disaster for them as well.”

Ofir Shaar, the father of Gilad, said, “We thank you, Mr. President, for your involvement on behalf of our sons, Gilad, Naftali and Eyal. Your invitation to us is another example of the genuine support we have felt over the past days from all directions, with no distinction between religion, politics or sector. Your words strengthen us as we stand strong and united in this difficult time that our families find themselves in. The people of Israel are with us. The Jews of the world are with us. We expect the whole world to act to free our boys. We ask of you all to do more and to your positive thoughts, to increase your prayers alongside the actions of the security services who are working night and day to bring back Naftali, Eyal and Gilad home safely as soon as possible.”

Peres, Chamberlain, And The Quest For Peace

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Shimon Peres’s retirement as Israel’s president will be one more opportunity for journalists to try to sum up a career that has spanned the entire history of his nation. As was true of many other moments when it seemed as if Peres had exited the spotlight for good, eulogies may also be premature today.

Peres is planning on using his time in the future to promote various initiatives and may well seek to play the kingmaker of the left in future efforts to topple or replace Benjamin Netanyahu as the country’s prime minister. But since this is almost certainly the end of his time in public office, some appreciation of his impact on Israel is appropriate.

As an Agence France Presse article noted, at age 90 Peres truly can claim the title of “the last of Israel’s founding fathers.” That’s more than an honorific. As that piece pointed out, as an aide to Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, Peres played a significant role in the creation of Israel’s defense establishment and nuclear deterrent. In the 1970s, he was seen as the leader of the more hawkish wing of the Labor Party and supported the building of the first West Bank settlements.

That he eventually became the leading figure in the peace movement and the architect of the failed Oslo process and then later left Labor to join Ariel Sharon’s centrist Kadima Party shows not so much his evolution as a thinker as the fact that opportunism can lead a politician, especially one who was considered an indefatigable schemer, all over the place if he hangs around long enough.

Nevertheless, despite decades of public service during which he held every major office his country could offer and enough achievements to fill several lifetimes, it is for Oslo and the peace process that Peres will be most remembered. That this, his most important initiative, failed cannot be denied and it is on that failure many will judge him. Yet those who are inclined to damn Peres for his colossal misjudgment of the Palestinians would do well to read Winston Churchill’s 1940 eulogy for Neville Chamberlain, the historical figure to which many of the outgoing Israeli president’s fiercest detractors often compared him.

Churchill despised Chamberlain’s appeasement policies as well as having no great personal affection for his former rival. But the death of the man who had come back from Munich waving a piece paper signed by “Herr Hitler” and saying that he had brought his country “peace for our time” did not cause Churchill to revisit Chamberlain’s obvious mistakes. The great orator chose a different frame of reference for thinking about the great appeaser:

It fell to Neville Chamberlain in one of the supreme crises of the world to be contradicted by events, to be disappointed in his hopes, and to be deceived and cheated by a wicked man. But what were these hopes in which he was disappointed? What were these wishes in which he was frustrated? What was that faith that was abused? They were surely among the most noble and benevolent instincts of the human heart – the love of peace, the toil for peace, the strife for peace, the pursuit of peace, even at great peril, and certainly to the utter disdain of popularity or clamour. Whatever else history may or may not say about these terrible, tremendous years, we can be sure that Neville Chamberlain acted with perfect sincerity according to his lights and strove to the utmost of his capacity and authority, which were powerful, to save the world from the awful, devastating struggle in which we are now engaged. This alone will stand him in good stead as far as what is called the verdict of history is concerned.

When in 1994 I asked Peres about the dangers of the path he was charting for Israel at the height of Oslo euphoria, he gave me his standard answer at the time. He said that such questions were like reading the disclaimer on the back of an airline ticket that warned of the possibility of a crash. One had to have faith in the pilot, the plane, and the importance of the destination, he told me, rather than dwell on the negative possibilities. As it turned out, the peace plane he was flying was badly constructed and operated more on his wishes than a grasp of reality, which led to its crash, a result that led to the deaths and injuries of many Israelis.

I’m So Glad Ruby Rivlin is Israel’s New President and Not Shitrit

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Thank G-d! Ruby Rivlin got 63 Knesset votes, and Shitrit didn’t make it.

Now in all honesty, I don’t expect miracles from Ruby. The position of President of Israel was created to be ceremonial, to free the Prime Minister from time consuming photo shoots with ambassadors and all. I trust that Ruby will be charming and not try to stretch the job into being a faux Prime Minister.

Shimon Peres tried to stretch stretched the position, because he really wanted to be Prime Minister and make policy to undermine Bibi Netanyahu. I had/have no doubt that if Meir Shitrit had been elected he would have attempted to continue Peres’s precedent.

So let’s wish Ruby Rivlin, Israel’s newest President a long, healthy and productive life.

Visit Shiloh Musings.  / Batya Medad

Mazal Tov, Mr. President: Peres Congratulates Rivlin

Tuesday, June 10th, 2014

President Shimon Peres congratulated President-elect Reuven ‘Rubi’ Rivlin.

“Rubi, Your Excellency the next President of the State of Israel, you are right for this role. It is a position that brings with it responsibility, you have to consider your every word and every action, but you will do it successfully because you are, to your core, a good person. There is a handover period and I am at your disposal from this moment onwards with whatever you need. My team and I will do everything we can to ensure the handover is conducted is honorably and professionally and we do it gladly.”

President Peres continued and said, “I am at the end of my seven-year term as President and it is an incredible privilege to serve to our people. As President your role is to serve, not to rule and in my eyes there is no greater honor than to faithfully serve your nation and your people. You have all the qualities to do just that. I wish you luck and I am confident that you will succeed in your future, which is also the future of the State of Israel.”

President-elect Rivlin thanked President Peres and said, “I thank you on behalf of myself and my wife. I am stepping into big shoes, it won’t be easy to be the 10th President after your presidency in which you done a lot of good for humanity, thank you Shimon.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/mazal-tov-mr-president-peres-congratulates-rivlin/2014/06/10/

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