Funny thing happened while talking to a neighbor. I brought up the topic of a column I’d read about the appalling display of misplaced priorities exhibited by Israel in springing for a gala eightieth birthday party for Shimon Peres.

While Israel is struggling to pay its bills and feed its citizens, Shimon Peres — in the latest example of his self-serving arrogance – saw fit to give himself, at taxpayer expense, a glittering celebrity birthday party.

The list of invitees ranged from Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev to – my heavens! – Barbra Streisand and Steven Spielberg. I think Peres somehow even managed to get that strong supporter of the Jewish people, Kofi Annan, into the fold.

Too bad Yasir Arafat wasn’t there for yet another great photo-op – you know, one of those nauseating displays that we’ve seen so often in the past of Peres and the master terrorist locked in a warm embrace while staring dreamily into each other’s eyes.

Arafat was a no-show; no doubt he was too busy sending out more of his suicide bombers. 

It’s not that I have anything against partying. I’ve partied with the best of them. But I have to admit I think it?s more than a little tacky when all these special people are living it up and the people in beleaguered Israel are getting the tab.

It’s really not fair to Bibi Netanyahu, the finance minister, who’s doing his best to keep spending slashed to a minimum on mundane things like social welfare for single mothers.

Nor is it fair when the hotels in Israel are like ghost towns – deserted and desolate because tourism is down to a trickle.

Nor is it fair (or moral) when the hospitals and clinics and graveyards are filled with the victims of the Arab terror plague loosed on the land because of Peres’s secretive and disastrous Oslo Accords.

Which reminds me, as a member of the Hollywood crowd: Where have these big Jewish celebrities who adore Peres been when it comes to speaking out about the hypocritical double standards and the endless violence their Jewish brothers in Israel have been forced to live under?

I’ve seen Hollywood marches – and almost without exception the organizers and most of the participants are Jewish – to save the whales, the trees, and the ferrets. But Jewish victims of Arab terrorism? Never. Maybe these bleeding hearts were too busy packing for their celebration with Shimon in that glittery and obsessive display of bad taste. Do you think?

About two years ago I was asked to help produce a fund-raiser for an Israeli organization called AKIM, which supports handicapped children. AKIM is in dire need of support, as are most of the charitable and government agencies in Israel. So I had the idea of doing a celebrity auction, and was lining up movie stars to work as MCs or in other capacities the night of the scheduled event.

The venue had been selected, bands auditioned, etc. We were well on our way. Then, abruptly, things were put on hold as the homicide bombings began in force and Jews in Israel were dying – dying because of Shimon Peres and his pal, Yasir Arafat. Everyone just thought it would be in bad taste to continue, and all planning was stopped.

That was two years ago. Now, however, it seems that the situation is cause for celebration, and it was ‘birthday or bust’ – or, in this case, bomb. When it comes to self-serving behavior, nothing seems to stop the serial loser Shimon Peres. (Tell me, an ignorant American: Has the man ever been elected to anything in his own right, or have his actions always been the fallout of his wangling his way into power in national unity governments or by political appointment?)

Anyway, back to my neighbor. When I showed her the spread in the Los Angeles Times about Israel’s Peres celebration, she commented, ‘Hmmm, why is Israel always asking American Jews for donations and the U.S. government for aid and loan guarantees when it has the money to spend on things like this?’