Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Shimon Peres Was Devoted to the Theft of
Palestinian Land, and to War on Arabs
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, September 30, 2016
Shimon Peres died yesterday,
September 29, 2016. Zionists hail him as a peace maker, when in fact he is
not, as the Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery relates in this article.
Actually, he was devoted to the theft of the Palestinian land and to the
continuous Israeli wars on Arabs, inside and outside Palestine.
On 18 April 1996, Shimon
Peres was the prime minister of the Israeli
occupation government. To boost his image as a war hawk during an
election campaign, he launched “Operation Grapes of Wrath” causing
400,000 Lebanese to flee their homes, with almost 800 of them
fleeing to a UN base in Qana, South Lebanon. There, the Israeli
occupation army shelled the UN shelter in Qana, killing 102
civilians, mainly women, children and the elderly.
The Saga of Sisyphus
SHIMON PERES is a genius. A
genius of impersonation.
All his life he has worked on his public
persona. The image replaced the man. Almost all the articles written about
him since he fell ill are about the imagined person, not the real one.
As the Americans like to say: He is so
phony he is real.
ON THE surface, there are some
similarities between him and me.
He is just 39 days older than I.
He came to this country a few months after me, when both of us were 10 years
old. I was sent to Nahalal, a cooperative village. He was sent to Ben Shemen,
an agricultural youth village.
It can be said that both of us are
optimists, and that we have been active all our lives.
the similarity ends.
I CAME from Germany, where we were an affluent
family. In Palestine we lost all our money very quickly. I grew up in utmost
poverty. He came from Poland. His family
was affluent in Palestine, too. I retained a slight German accent, he
retained a very strong Polish one.
Already in his childhood there
was something that attracted the ire of his schoolmates in the Jewish school
of his small native town. They often beat him up. His younger brother used
to defend him. "Why do they hate me so?" Shimon asked him, he recounted.
In Ben Shemen his name was still Persky. One of his teachers suggested
he adopt a Hebrew name, as almost all of us did. He proposed Ben Amotz, the
name of the prophet Isaiah but this name was snapped up by another pupil,
Dan Tehilimsager, who also became famous. So the teacher suggested Peres,
the name of a large bird.
WE FIRST met when we were 30. He was
already the Director General of the Ministry of Defense, I was the
Editor-in-Chief of a magazine that upset the country.
He invited me
to the ministry in order to ask me not to publish an investigative article
(on the sinking of an illegal refugees' ship in the harbor of Haifa by the
Haganah before the founding of Israel). Our meeting was a story of mutual
dislike on first sight.
My dislike was already primed before the
meeting. In the war of 1948 ("the War of Independence") I was a member of a
commando unit called "Samson's foxes". All of us, the combat soldiers of
that war, detested members of our age-group who did not enlist. Peres did
not enlist, he was sent abroad by David Ben-Gurion to buy arms. An important
job – but one that could be fulfilled by a 60-year old.
hovered over Peres' head for a very long time. It explains why members of
his age-group detested him and loved Yitzhak Rabin, Yigal Alon and their
SHIMON PERES has been a politician from childhood on – a
real politician, a complete politician, a politician and nothing else. No
other interests, no hobbies.
It started already in Ben Shemen.
Peres was an "outside boy" there, a new immigrant who was different from all
the sun-burned, athletic native boys. His not very pleasant face did not
help. Yet he attracted Sonia, the carpenter's daughter, who became his wife.
He craved the love of his mates and wanted to be accepted as one of
them. He joined the "Working Youth", the youth organization of the almighty
Histadruth trade union and became very active. Since the local boys,
nicknamed Sabras, did not like political activity, Peres rose in their ranks
and quickly became an instructor.
His first opportunity came after
he finished his studies in Ben Shemen and joined a kibbutz of the Labor
party (Mapai), which ruled the Jewish community with an iron fist. The party
split, almost all youth leaders joined "Faction B", the opposition group.
Peres was almost alone in remaining true to the majority faction. Thus he
drew the attention of the party supervisor, Levy Eshkol.
It was a
brilliant political exercise. His erstwhile comrades despised him, but he
was now in touch with the top party leadership. Eshkol brought him to the
attention of Ben-Gurion, and when the 1948 war broke out, the leader sent
him to the US to buy arms.
Peres acted as Ben Gurion's right-hand man, admired
him and – most important – became his political successor.
BEN-GURION IMPRINTED his political outlook on the new state, and it may be
said that the state continues today to move on the rails laid by him. Peres
was one of his principal helpers.
Ben-Gurion did not believe in peace. His views were based on
the assumption that the Arabs would not ever make peace with the Jewish
state, which was founded on what had been their country. There would not be
peace for, at least, a long long time. Therefore the new state needed a
strong, Western power as an ally. Logic dictated that such an ally could
come only from the ranks of the imperialist powers, who were afraid of Arab
It was a vicious circle: In order to defend itself from
the Arabs, Israel needed a colonialist anti-Arab ally. Such an alliance
would only increase the Arabs' hatred towards Israel. And so forth, to this
The first prospective ally was Britain. But this came to
nought: the British preferred to embrace Arab nationalism. But at the right
moment another ally appeared on the scene: France.
The French had an
extended empire in Africa. Algeria, officially a department of France,
rebelled in 1954. Both sides fought with utmost savagery.
believe that their Algerians would rise against them, the French cast all
the blame on the new leader who had come to power in Cairo. But no country
was ready to assist them in their "dirty war". Except one.
Ben-Gurion, who was already aging, was
afraid of the new pan-Arab leader, Gamal Abd-al-Nasser.
Young, energetic, good-looking, and charismatic, "Nasser", a rousing orator,
was unlike the old Arab notables Ben-Gurion was used to. So when the French
stretched out their hand to him, Ben-Gurion eagerly grabbed it.
was the old vicious circle again: Israel supported French oppression against
the Arabs, Arab hatred towards Israel increased, Israel needed the colonial
oppressors even more. In vain I warned against this catastrophic process.
Ben-Gurion's emissary to France was
Shimon Peres. With his help, the process reached undreamt
heights. For example: when the UN debated a proposal to improve the prison
conditions of the Algerian leader, Ahmed Ben Bella, the only voice in the UN
which voted against was Israel's. (The French themselves boycotted the
This unholy alliance
reached its climax in the 1956 Suez war, in which France, Britain and Israel
jointly attacked Egypt. This operation aroused unified
worldwide condemnation, the US and Soviet Russia made common cause and the
three conspirators had to withdraw. Israel had to give back the huge
territory it had occupied.
The French recalled Charles de Gaulle to
power, and he understood that he had to put an end to the senseless war.
Peres continued to laud the alliance which, he announced, was not based on
mere interests but on profound common values. I published this speech,
sentence by sentence, with my rebuttal to each. I forecast that once the
Algerian war was over, France would drop Israel like a hot coal and renew
its ties with the Arab world. And that, of course, is exactly what happened.
(Israel adopted the US instead.)
One of the fruits of the Suez
adventure was the atomic reactor in Dimona. Legend has it that it was given
to Israel as a gift by France in gratitude for Peres' services. In reality
it was a part of France's deal with Israel, as well as a boost to French
industry. Necessary ingredients were obtained in many places by theft and
Peres was praised in
Israel to high heaven. It was praise for a man of war, not peace.
THE CAREER of Peres resembles the legend of Sisyphus, the hero of
ancient Greek myth who was condemned by the gods to roll a heavy rock up to
the top of a hill, but every time he approached his goal the rock would slip
from his hands and roll down to the bottom.
After the Sinai war,
Peres' fortunes rose to new heights. The architect of relations with France,
the man who had obtained the atomic reactor, was appointed Deputy Minister
of Defense and was on his way to become an important member of the cabinet,
when everything crashed down. Ben-Gurion insisted on disclosing an odious
sabotage affair in Egypt and was deposed by his colleagues. He insisted on
founding a new party, called Rafi. Peres, much to his own displeasure, was
compelled to join, as, with equal displeasure, did Moshe Dayan.
Ben-Gurion was not active, Dayan did nothing, as usual, and it fell to Peres
to campaign. With his usual untiring energy he ploughed the land, but in the
elections the party, with all its brilliant stars, won only 10 seats in the
120-member Knesset, and went into impotent opposition. The rock of Peres
rolled down to the bottom.
And then came redemption – almost. Abd-al-Nasser
sent his army into Sinai, in Israel panic broke out. The Rafi party joined
the government. Peres expected to be appointed Minister of Defense, but at
the last moment the charismatic Dayan got the desired job. Israel won a
resounding victory in six days, and The Man With The Black Eye-patch became
a world celebrity. Poor Peres had to make do with a minor ministry. The rock
was down again.
For six years Peres languished, while Dayan sunned
himself in the admiration of the world's men, and especially women. And then
luck changed again. The Egyptians crossed the Suez canal and gained an
incredible initial victory, Dayan crumbled like an earthen idol. After some
time both Golda Meir and Dayan were compelled to resign, Peres was the
obvious candidate for prime minister.
But the incredible happened
again. Out of nowhere there appeared Yitzhak Rabin, the native boy, the
victor of the Six-day war. He was chosen Prime Minister, but was compelled
to appoint Peres, whom he did not like, as Minister of Defense. The rock was
half way up again.
The following years were hell for Rabin. The
Defense Minister had only one ambition in life: to humiliate and undermine
the Prime Minister. It was a full-time job,
To spite Rabin,
Peres did something of historic
significance: he created the first Israeli settlements in the middle of the
occupied West Bank, starting a process that now threatens
Israel's future. The furious Rabin gave him a moniker that has stuck to him
since: "The Tireless Intriguer".
A few years later Rabin had to
call early elections, because fighter planes obtained from the US arrived in
Israel on Friday, too late for the guests of honor to get home without
desecrating the Shabbat. The religious factions rebelled. Rabin, of course,
headed the party list.
Then something happened. It appeared that
after leaving the job of ambassador to the US, Rabin had left behind him in
America a bank account – something that was forbidden at the time. Rabin's
wife was accused, Rabin took the blame on himself and resigned, Peres became
No. 1 on the list and at long last the rock neared the top of the hill.
On the evening of election day Peres was already celebrating victory,
when the wheel abruptly turned during the night. Incredibly, Menachem Begin,
considered by many a fascist had won. Down went the rock.
On the eve
of the 1982 Lebanon war (during which I met with Yasser Arafat) opposition
leaders Peres and Rabin went to see Begin and called on him to invade
Then Begin fell ill with Alzheimer and was succeeded by
another former terrorist, Yitzhak Shamir. A kind of interregnum followed,
when neither of the two major parties could rule alone. A two-headed
rotation-scheme evolved. On one of his stints as Prime Minister, Peres
gained undisputed laurels as the man who vanquished Israel's three-digit
inflation and instituted the New Shekel, still our coin.[coin currency]
The rock went up again, when something very nasty happened. Four Arab boys
kidnapped a bus full of people and drove it south. The bus was stormed. The
government asserted that all four were killed during the battle, but then I
published a photo showing two of them alive after capture. It appeared that
they had been executed in cold blood by the Security Service.
middle of the affair Peres succeeded Shamir, as agreed in advance. Peres
procured a pardon for all the murderers, including the chief of the Shin
RABIN RETURNED to power, with Peres as Foreign Minister. One
day, Peres asked to see me – an unusual event, since the enmity between us
was already a part of folklore.
Peres lectured me on the necessity
to make peace with the PLO. Since this had been my main aim in life for many
years, I could hardly refrain from laughing. He then told me in confidence
about the Oslo negotiations, and asked me to use my influence to convince
Peres certainly had a part in the agreement, but it was Rabin
who made the momentous decision – and paid with his life.
imagination, I see the assassin waiting at the foot of the stairs with his
loaded pistol, letting Peres pass a few inches away and waiting for Rabin,
who came down a few minutes later.
The Nobel Prize committee decided
to award the Peace Prize to Arafat and Rabin. Peres' admirers around the
world raised hell, until the committee added Peres to the list. Justice
demanded awarding the prize also to Mahmoud Abbas, who had signed with
Peres. But the statutes allow only for three laureates. So Abbas did not
become a Nobel laureate, too.
After Rabine's death, Peres became
temporary Prime Minister. If he had called immediate elections, he would
have won by a landslide. But Peres did not want to ride on the dead man's
coattails. He waited for a few months, during which he conducted an
ill-advised war in Lebanon. In the end he lost the elections to Binyamin
(Giving rise to my joke: "If an election can be lost,
Peres will lose it. If an election cannot be lost, Peres will lose it
In all the election campaigns, Peres was cursed and
abused. Once he complained about "a sea of (obscene) Oriental gestures",
which made him even more disliked by citizens of Oriental descent.
During this time Peres did something wise: he underwent plastic surgery. His
looks improved remarkably.
The final disgrace came when Peres stood
for election to the presidency of the state. The President, a ceremonial
figure bereft of real power, is elected by the Knesset. Yet Peres lost to a
nonentity, a Likud party hack named Moshe Katzav. It seemed a final insult.
But then again the incredible happened. Moshe Katzav was arrested and
convicted of rape. In the following election, the Knesset elected Peres in
what looked like an attack of collective remorse.
The rock had
reached the top of the hill. With his untiring energy, Sisyphus has won
after all. The lifelong politician who had never won an election was now
President – and overnight he became very popular.
Peres had several
years to enjoy the new love of the people, his lifelong aim. And then, two
weeks ago, he had a stroke and fell into a coma.
I hope he recovers.
They don’t make ‘em like that anymore.
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