Career of Land Theft, Killing Civilians, Assassinations,
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, June 24, 2013
Bill Clinton alone got half a million
dollars for attending the Peres 90th birthday!
How much did Tony Blair
charge for the occasion?
The Qana Massacre of Lebanese women and children, under Peres
When the Gods Laugh
IF THE life of Shimon Peres was a play, it would be difficult to classify.
A tragedy? A comedy? A tragicomedy?
For sixty years it looked as
if he was under a curse of God, much like the curse of Sisyphus, who was
condemned to roll an immense boulder up a hill, and every time he
approached his goal the rock would roll down again to the bottom.
Disclosure: our lives have run somehow on parallel lines. He is one month
older than I. We both came to Palestine as boys. We have both been in
political life from our teens. But there the similarity ends.
met for the first time 60 years ago, when we were 30 years old. He was the
Director General of Israel’s most important ministry, I was the publisher
and editor of Israel’s most aggressive news magazine. We disliked each
other on sight.
He was David
Ben-Gurion’s main assistant, I was Ben-Gurion’s main enemy (so
defined by his security chief.) From there our paths crossed many times,
but we did not become bosom friends.
his early childhood in Poland, Peres (still
Persky) complained that his mates in (Jewish) school beat him up
for no reason. His younger brother had to defend him.
When he came
to Palestine with his family, he was sent to the legendary children’s
village Ben Shemen, and joined a kibbutz. But already as a teenager his
political acumen was evident. He was an instructor in a socialist youth
movement. It split and most of his comrades joined the left-wing faction,
which looked more young and dynamic. Peres was one of the few who remained
with the ruling party, Mapai, and thereby drew the attention of the senior
He had to make a much more momentous choice in the 1948
war, a war all of us considered a life-and-death struggle. It was the
decisive event in the life of our generation. Almost all the young people
hastened to join the fighting units. Not Peres. Ben-Gurion sent him abroad
to buy arms – a very important task, but one that could have been carried
out by an older person. Peres was considered a shirker at the supreme test
and was never forgiven by the 1948ers. Their contempt plagued him for
At the early age of 30 Ben-Gurion appointed him director
of the Defense Ministry – a huge advancement, which assured him a rapid
rise to the top. And indeed, he played a major
role in pushing Ben-Gurion into the 1956 Suez war, in collusion with
France and Britain.
The French were struggling with
the Algerian war for independence and believed that their real enemy was
the Egyptian leader, Gamal Abd-al-Nasser. They got Israel to spearhead an
attack to topple him. It was a complete failure.
In my opinion,
the war was a political disaster for Israel. It dug the abyss separating
our new state from the Arab world. But the
French showed their gratitude – they rewarded Peres with the atomic
reactor in Dimona.
Throughout this period,
Peres was the ultimate hawk, and a
central member of a group which my magazine, Haolam Hazeh, branded as
“Ben-Gurion’s youth gang” – a group we suspected of plotting to assume
power by undemocratic means. But before this could happen, Ben-Gurion was
kicked out by the old party veterans, and Peres had no choice but to join
him in political exile. They formed a new party, Rafi, Peres worked like
mad, but in the end they garnered only 10 Knesset seats. Peres and the
boulder were back at the bottom.
Redemption came with the Six-day
War. On its eve, Rafi was invited to join a National Unity government. But
the big prize was snatched by Moshe Dayan, who became Minister of Defense
and a world idol. Peres remained in the shadows.
opportunity arose after the 1973 Yom Kippur war. Golda Meir and Dayan were
pushed out by an incensed public. Peres was the obvious candidate for
Prime Minister. But lo and behold, at the last minute Yitzhak Rabin
appeared from nowhere and snatched the crown. Peres was left with the
The next three years were a continuous story of
subversion, with Peres trying by all available
means to undermine Rabin. As a part of this effort, he allowed
right-wing extremists to establish the first settlement in the heart of
the West Bank – Kedumim. He has rightly been called
the father of the settlement movement, as
he was earlier called the father of the atom bomb.
Rabin coined a
phrase that stuck to him: “Tireless
This chapter ended with the “dollar account”.
Upon leaving his former job as ambassador in Washington, Rabin had left an
open account in an American bank. At the time, that was a criminal
offense, generally settled with a fine, but Rabin resigned in order to
protect his wife.
It was never proved that Peres had a hand in the
disclosure, though many suspected it.
AT LONG last, the way was
clear. Peres assumed the leadership of the party and ran for elections.
The Labor Party was bound to win, as it always had before.
God only laughed. After 44 years of continuous Labor Party dominance, in
the Yishuv and the state, Peres managed to achieve the unthinkable: he
Menachem Begin made peace with Egypt, with Moshe Dayan,
Peres’ competitor, at his side. Soon afterwards,
Begin invaded Lebanon. On the eve of that war,
Peres and Rabin visited him and urged him to
attack. After the war went wrong, Peres
appeared at a huge peace rally and condemned the war.
the election before that, Peres had a shattering experience. In the
evening, after the ballots were closed, Peres was crowned on camera as the
next Prime Minister. On the following morning, Israel woke up with Prime
Minister Menachem Begin again.
The elections after that ended in a
draw. For the first time Peres became Prime Minister, but only under a
rotation agreement. When Shamir assumed power, Peres tried to unseat him
in a dubious political plot. It failed. Rabin, caustic as ever, called it
“the Dirty Exercise”.
unpopularity reached new depths. At election rallies,
people cursed him and threw tomatoes.
When, at a party event, he posed the rhetorical question:
“Am I a loser?” the audience shouted in unison:
To change his luck, he underwent a cosmetic operation to alter his
hangdog look. But his lack of grace could not be remedied by a surgeon.
Neither could his oratorical skills – this man, who has delivered many tens
of thousands of speeches, has never expressed a truly original idea. His
speeches consist entirely of political platitudes, helped along by a deep
voice, the dream of every politician.
(This, by the way, disproves to me his pretense of having read thousands
of books. You cannot really read so many books without a trace of it showing
up in your writing and speeches. One of his assistants once confided to me
that he prepared resumes of fashionable books for him, to save him the
trouble of actually reading before quoting them.)
IN THE meantime,
Peres the hawk turned into Peres the peacenik.
He had a part to play in achieving the Oslo accord,
but it was Rabin who garnered the glory. The same, by the way, had happened
before with the daring Entebbe raid, when Peres was Minister of Defense and
Rabin Prime Minister.
After Oslo, the Nobel committee
was about to award the Peace Prize to Rabin and Arafat. However, immense
world-wide pressure was exerted on the committee to include Peres. Since no
more than three persons can share the prize, Mahmoud Abbas, who had signed
the agreement with Peres, was left out.
The assassination of Rabin
was a turning point for Peres. He had been standing near Rabin when the
“peace song” was sung. He came down the stairs, when Yigal Amir was waiting
below, the loaded pistol in his hand. The murderer let Peres pass and waited
for Rabin – another crowning insult.
But, at long last, Peres had
achieved his goal. He was Prime Minister. The obvious thing to do was to
call immediate elections, posing as the heir of the martyred leader. He
would have won by a landslide. But Peres wanted to be elected on his own
merit. He postponed the elections.
The results were disastrous.
Peres gave the order to assassinate Yahya Ayyash,
the “engineer” who had prepared the Hamas bombs. In retaliation, the entire
country blew up in a tsunami of suicide bombings.
Then Peres invaded South Lebanon, a sure means to gain popularity.
But something went wrong, artillery fire caused a
massacre of civilians in a UN (Qana) camp, and the operation came to an
inglorious end. Peres lost the elections, Netanyahu came to power.
(See more information below)*
Later, when the feared Ariel Sharon was elected,
Peres offered him his services. He successfully whitewashed Sharon’s bloody
image in the world.
IN ALL his long political life, Peres
never won an election. So he decided to give up party politics and run for
president. His victory was assured, certainly against a nondescript Likud
functionary like Moshe Katzav. The outcome was again a crowning insult:
little Katzav won against the great Peres. (Causing some people to say: “If
an election cannot be lost, Peres will lose it anyway!”)
time God seems to have decided that enough was enough. Katzav was accused of
raping his secretaries, the way was clear for Peres. He was elected.
Since then he has been celebrating. God showered him with favors. The
public, which detested him for decades, enveloped him with their love.
International celebrities anointed him as one of the world’s great.
He could not get enough of it. Hungry for love all his life, he swallowed
flattery like a barrel without a bottom. He talked
endlessly about “Peace” and the “New Middle East” while doing absolutely
nothing to further it. Even TV announcers smiled when they repeated
his edifying phrases. In reality he served as a
fig leaf for Netanyahu’s endless exercises in expansion and sabotaging
The culmination came this Tuesday. Sitting alongside
Netanyahu, Peres celebrated his 90th birthday
(two months before the real date), surrounded by a plethora of national and
international celebrities, basking in their glamor like a teenager. It cost
a lot – Bill Clinton alone got half a million
dollars for attending.
More information about the 2006 Qana massacre, under the Peres leadership:
Barbra Streisand did not, as many here had been hoping or openly joking
about, don a white fur coat and purr, “Happy birthday, Mr. President.”
Instead, Ms. Streisand offered a pleading rendition of “Avinu
Malkeinu,” a hymn from the Yom Kippur liturgy requested by the president
Shimon Peres, who said he cannot hear her sing it without crying.
A gala on Tuesday for Mr. Peres, second from right, included Barbra
Streisand, Bill Clinton and Benjamin Netanyahu.
There was no cake or candles, only scant canapés, at a gala in honor of
Mr. Peres, who is already the world’s oldest leader and turns 90 in
August. Former statesmen (Bill Clinton, Tony
Blair), celebrities (Robert DeNiro, Sharon Stone), scholars and scions (five
Nobel laureates and the authors of 1,412 books, all with a collective net
worth topping $24 billion, according to organizers), had gathered
here at Jerusalem’s convention center to fete Mr. Peres.
“We, in Britain, have our queen, and you have your Shimon,” declared
Mr. Blair, the Middle East envoy and former
British prime minister. Mr. Clinton cracked
that Mr. Peres was “the last living Israeli who knew King David,” and had
promised to attend Mr. Clinton’s 90th birthday (he would be 113) and speak
at his funeral.
“Why would I wear a tie?” asked Mayor Rahm
Emanuel of Chicago, though he included his favorite expletive. “I
didn’t even bring one.”) There were ministers and
moguls, rabbis and raconteurs.
The 2,800 guests — including a who’s who of American Jewish leaders —
Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the 85-year-old psychosexual therapist ...
“I hate stand-ups,” lamented Abraham Foxman,
the director of the Anti-Defamation League, as the celebration entered its
Tuesday’s party kicked off a $3 million conference, financed by 40
individuals and foundations, and expected to draw 5,000 people for two
days of brainstorming and networking around the broad theme of “Facing
Tomorrow.” It came after a public brouhaha over a separate speech Monday
night at the Peres Academic Center, a private college, for which
Mr. Clinton was originally scheduled to be paid
$500,000 and guests charged $800.
Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the first
(and last) president of the former Soviet Union,
was invited but did not attend because he had been ill recently.
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