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October 7, 2016 10:04 am

Shimon Peres (1923-1985;1986-2016): Which Do We Mourn?

avatar by Martin Sherman

Email a copy of "Shimon Peres (1923-1985;1986-2016): Which Do We Mourn?" to a friend
Shimon Peres. Photo: Mark Neiman / GPO.

Shimon Peres. Photo: Mark Neiman / GPO.

“Ambition drove many men to become false; to have one thought locked in the breast, another ready on the tongue.” — Gaius Sallustius Crispus, Roman historian and politician, (86 BCE – c. 35 BCE)

“It is our experience that political leaders do not always mean the opposite of what they say.” — Abba Eban, Israeli diplomat and politician (1919-2002)

On Wednesday, September 28, Shimon Peres, the 9th and arguably the most high-profile president of Israel, passed away. For all the glare of the public spotlight and scrutiny to which he has been exposed, he remains in many ways, an enigmatic figure, comprised of seemingly impossible contradictions for historians to attempt to decipher.

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Sweeping international acclaim: Well-merited or unwarranted?

Peres will be laid to rest on Friday with all the pomp and ceremony that befits the funeral of a former head of state and public figure of international stature.

The expected attendees include world leaders and renowned celebrities from dozens of countries around the globe. US President Barack Obama, and former President Bill Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, former British PM Tony Blair, and Prince Charles are but a few names on the star-studded list of reported dignitaries, who plan to attend the ceremony. Tributes flowed in from far and wide, from Hollywood stars to the British royal family, mourning the passing of the man seen as Israel’s elder statesman.

Of course, all this international attention was not unexpected.  After all, during his lifetime, Peres had virtually every major international honor bestowed on him – from the Légion d’Honneur through the Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom, to the Nobel Peace Prize.

Yet, to some, all this acclaim and acknowledgment may seem somewhat incongruous in light of the almost unbroken succession of failures and fiascoes that have dogged much of his career since the late 1970s — both in terms of his personal electoral defeats and of his policy debacles — particularly the disastrous implosion of his flagship endeavor to resolve the conflict with the Palestinian-Arabs, and the evaporation of his vision of a peaceful and prosperous “New Middle East.”

The enigmatic conundrum

As mentioned earlier, despite the fact that Peres was exposed to public scrutiny for almost seven decades, there in still much about him that remains a puzzling conundrum, comprising a tangled web of seemingly irreconcilable paradoxes. For many, his passing may well appear to be an appropriate juncture to begin addressing the intriguing challenge of unraveling the enigmatic kaleidoscope of events he traversed on his route to the pinnacle of international esteem.

To be sure, Peres’s extraordinary ability, passion and energy are beyond dispute. But so, it would seem, was his unbridled ambition, making the caveats in the introductory excerpts highly relevant in evaluating the breathtaking volte face in his professed political credo.

There can also be little dispute that, as president, he managed to restore an aura of dignity to the office, so severely tarnished by the unfortunate scandals that plagued the incumbency of his predecessor.

Even his fiercest critics cannot deny Peres’s huge contribution to the nation’s security, particularly in the first decade-and-a-half after independence.

As a young protégé of David Ben-Gurion’s, Peres is credited with playing a leading role in setting up much of the foundations for the nascent nation’s military infrastructure that has been so crucial in ensuring its survival and its technological edge – including Israel Aircraft Industries (today Israel Aerospace Industries), acquisition of advanced combat aircraft from France and the establishment of the nuclear facility in Dimona.

As defense minister at the time of the Entebbe raid in 1976, he is identified by many as providing the political will to push through the decision to carry out the now legendary operation.

The fruits of failure?

However, perversely, it has not been Peres’s successes – but his failures – that have catapulted him to international stardom. It was not his impressive accomplishments in the service of his nation that brought him global celebrity status, but the disastrous fiascoes in the pursuit of his wildly unrealistic illusions.

Thus, it was the disastrous Oslo Accords — which have long since imploded into bloody ruin — that brought him the 1994 Nobel Peace prize.

Likewise, it was his lofty vision of a “New Middle East” – with peace and prosperity stretching from the Maghreb to the Persian Gulf – that caught the imagination of so many, but now, with the descent of today’s Middle East into carnage and chaos, appears nothing but a ludicrous delusion.

Accordingly, it was not his considerable contributions to Israeli security that made him such a sought-after figure on the global stage, but rather his adoption of the role of supranational statesman on a noble quest for regional peace, a quest that precipitated nothing but death and devastation.

Moreover, since the late 1970s, by most accepted standards, Peres would have been considered a failed politician. Yet repeated electoral defeats, even at times when victory seemed almost certain, appear to have left his stature undiminished.

Snatching defeat from jaws of almost certain victory

Indeed, Peres never won a national election and lost numerous internal elections for party leadership.

Between 1977-96, he led the Labor party unsuccessfully in five general elections, losing four of them and tying in one of them (1984)’ resulting in a 2 year rotation arrangement, with Likud’s Yitzhak Shamir.

The razor-edge loss of the 1996 election to Benjamin Netanyahu, which he was widely expected to win, was particularly humiliating, given the waves of public sympathy his party enjoyed following the assassination of his predecessor, Yitzhak Rabin.

No less humiliating was the failure of his first bid to win the presidency in 2000, in which he was surprisingly defeated by the unimpressive and un-presidential Moshe Katsav.

Peres was also regularly defeated in elections for the leadership of the Labor party, by Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, and even lack-luster Amir Peretz. It was shortly after his defeat by Peretz, that Peres abandoned the Labor party and joined Ariel Sharon’s newly formed Kadima faction. In 2007, Kadima, which today no longer exists, appointed Peres as its candidate for president — after considerable hesitation due to doubts as to whether he could win. This time, however, Peres won the vote, thus becoming president…on behalf of a party soon to disappear.

It was from this inauspicious start the Peres managed to choreograph his presidency into an international “hit” on a global scale.

Metamorphosis from hawk to dove

Peres was always obsessed with “tomorrow.” In many ways he appropriated it as his professional trademark, in an endeavor to brand himself as a future-oriented statesman. And while there was much to substantiate that image in his earlier hawkish era, his predictive acumen seems to have deserted him in his later dovish years.

Peres’s transformation from hawk to dove seems to have taken place around the mid-80s, when one Peres morphed into an almost diametric opposite Peres  (hence the dichotomy in the title).  Indeed, as Anshel Pfeffer wrote this week (Guardian, September 28): “If Peres had resigned from frontline politics at the age of 54, as many of his colleagues were demanding, after having lost the 1977 general election…he would be remembered as one of Israel’s most legendary security ‘hawks.’”

It was around then that Peres, as foreign minister, began to embrace the land-for-peace doctrine and, largely behind Prime Minister Shamir’s back, attempted to secure a deal with Jordan’s King Hussein over the fate of Judea-Samaria. Given the precarious plight of the Hashemite regime today, and the growing ascendancy of radical Islamist elements in the monarchy, it is difficult to be charitable as to the foresight such a proposal entailed.

Calculated cynicism or well-informed confidence

Referring to this puzzling transformation, Pfeffer observes: “Peres never explained the transformation he underwent in the wilderness of opposition.”

He offers two possible explanations, one of calculated cynicism, the other of well-informed confidence:

His many detractors said that Peres simply had no choice. With Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat … signing the Camp David peace agreement, he had no choice but to move leftwards and try to present himself as a better peacemaker than his Likud rivals [while] [h]is supporters explained [referring to Israel’s alleged nuclear capabilities] that Peres knew more than anyone else just how strong and secure Israel had become, and could therefore make concessions and take risks for peace in its dangerous neighbourhood.

While some may balk at the former, the latter is entirely unpersuasive.

For as we shall see, and as hawkish Peres himself warned, the most immediate threats to Israel’s security today are those of enhanced and ongoing attrition rather than cataclysmic invasion by Arab armies. Accordingly, because of the diffuse nature and close proximity of the sources of these threats to Israeli population centers, the country’s alleged nuclear capabilities are largely irrelevant in dealing with them.

Yesterday’s view of ‘tomorrow’ 

As mentioned previously, Peres was always enamored with the “tomorrow” theme. One of his first forays in to “tomorrow-territory” was a programmatic book entitled Tomorrow is Now, which he authored as chairman of the Labor Party, just after it had lost power to Menachem Begin’s Likud. Published in 1978, it laid out Peres’s prescriptive vision for the future conduct of the affairs of the nation.

In many ways, the book – available only in Hebrew – is an astonishing document.

For those who are only familiar with the post-Oslowian dovish version of Peres, it offers some staggering surprises.

For the citizens of Israel – indeed, for anyone concerned with the fate of the Jewish state – it raises deeply disturbing questions regarding the judgment, credibility and integrity of those who have served in positions of senior leadership, and serious doubts as to the credence that can be placed in their pronouncements to the nation.

For, in virtually every aspect, the book negates precepts underlying the rationale of the Oslo Accords — including the validity of the land-for-peace doctrine, the desirability of a Palestinian state and the value of any agreements with the Arab world – particularly concerning demilitarization. Likewise, it strongly endorses Jewish settlements across the pre-1967 Green Line, including Judea-Samaria, the Jordan Valley and the Golan. Indeed, it would not be far from the truth to say that Peres was in fact the founding father  (or at least, godfather) of today’s much maligned settlement project.

Peres’s past prescriptions; precise predictions

I have written extensively elsewhere of the incisive insights of Peres’s past prescriptions and the precision of his past predictions of the perils that would befall Israel were it to adopt the kind of policies that he later advocated. (see here and here). I pointed out how hawkish Peres forewarned of the very realities the dovish Peres endorsed, and how these were precisely the realities that precipitated the IDF’s Operation Defensive Shield in Judea-Samaria (2002) – and later operations in Gaza: Cast Lead (2008/9); Pillar of Defense (2012); Protective Edge (2014).

He warned of the dangers of relinquishing the highlands of Judea-Samaria to Arab control and how that would allow “the most extreme terrorist forces…equipped with anti-tank and anti-aircraft shoulder-launched rockets, [to] endanger not only random passers-by, but also every airplane and helicopter taking off in the skies of Israel and every vehicle traveling along the major traffic routes in the coastal plain.”

He argued that the greater range, mobility and firepower of modern weaponry only enhance the strategic importance of territorial depth and that relinquishing Judea-Samaria would “create compulsive temptation to attack Israel…” (p.255).

He cautioned against placing trust in agreements with the Arabs, since: “The number of agreements which the Arabs have violated is no less than the number which they have kept” (p.255).

Which Peres do we mourn?

But perhaps most significant was his endorsement of the settlement project and his call

to create a continuous stretch of new settlements; to bolster Jerusalem and the surrounding hills…by the establishment of townships, suburbs and villages –  Ma’ale Edumin, Ofra, Gilo, Bet-El, Givon…to ensure that the capital and its flanks are secured…the settlements along the Jordan River are intended to establish the Jordan River as [Israel’s] de facto security border; however, it is the settlements on the western slopes of the hills of Samaria and Judea which will deliver us from the curse of Israel’s “narrow waist”; the purpose of the settlements in the Golan is to ensure that this territorial platform will no longer constitute a danger, but a barrier against a surprise attack… (p.48)

So which Peres do we mourn? The dour hawkish Peres, who got it right? Or the internationally-acclaimed dovish Peres, who got it disastrously wrong?

Dr. Martin Sherman (www.martinsherman.org) is founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (www.strategic-israel.org).

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  • chrismoyler

    Shimon Peres and Humanistic Judaism.

    Thank you Martin Sherman for this very insightful article on the life of Shimon Peres. The changes that occurred within him are actually a trumpet call to present day Israel. If correctly understood, they will hopefully serve as a warning to Israel not to be seduced by the overwhelming rise in Secular Humanism, that is presently engulfing the Western world- as it rejects its former Judaeo-Christian worldview.

    I would like to reflect on just one aspect of his life, that has troubled me for some time, but I could not quite put my finger on it until this week,and that concerns his transition from Orthodox Judaism to humanistic Judaism. The Wikipedia link is especially helpful in seeking to process the thinking which underlies this transition.

    The early years of Israel’s existence as a nation have been extremely turbulent, with huge changes in a very brief time frame. Often it has been a sheer battle for survival, and then came the intifadas. Israel would seem to live in a perpetual challenge for her very existence, surrounded by much hostility. Yet in the midst of all this hostility, Israel continues to thrive.

    It is right and good that the Jewish people should enjoy this resurrection. After such a very long diaspora, why should they not enjoy the fruit of their regathering? Indeed they should! It is also just and right that she should honour those who fought so hard to get the nation established.

    But in the midst of all this very real success- and who could argue that Israel is not an astounding success- there comes a huge and a silent danger, an enemy who is not beyond Israel’s borders, but rather who seeks to destroy Zionism from within.

    This enemy is not a new enemy, but rather a very old one. In the first three chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses recounts Israel’s history thus far, but in ch4 he begins to teach the people. A powerful theme of this fourth chapter is “do not forget.”

    “Only be careful, and watch yourselves diligently as long as you live, so that you won’t forget what you saw with your own eyes, so that these things won’t vanish from your hearts. Rather, make them known to your children and grandchildren— the day you stood before Adonai your God at Horev, when Adonai said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, and I will make them hear my very words, so that they will learn to hold me in awe as long as they live on earth, and so that they will teach their children.'” (Deu 4:9-10)

    And these famous words of Moses encapsulate Israel’s greatest danger, that the nation forgets WHY she exists! In the battle for her nationhood, the battle itself occupied the heart and mind of the people and, under Joshua, the nation was victorious in the possession of her land. But the Book of Judges remains as a solemn warning of what happened to Israel in the prosperity that followed those incredible victories. Judges is perhaps the saddest book of the entire Hebrew canon. It is particularly sad because it follows hard on the heels of those astounding victories.

    Modern day Israel has won incredible victories at every level- militarily, economically, scientifically and culturally. She is an astounding nation, and her victories have a great resonance with those of Joshua’s day. Yet, as in the days of the Judges, she is in grave danger of bowing the knee to a humanistic culture that, only 70 years ago, tried to destroy her. Those former days after Joshua, were principally days of a loss of national identity.

    Humanistic Judaism, the Judaism that so captured Shimon Peres’ heart, seeks to enjoy the fruit of Israel’s recreation while at the same time rejecting the reason for that recreation. Moses warning is very apt at this time:
    “He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. He did all this so you would never say to yourself,
    ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.” (Deu 8:16-17)

    Israel’s recreation has NOT come solely through the very considerable efforts of her people. It has come through the Almighty’s blessing, his chesed. And that blessing has a central purpose- that she becomes, once again, the nation that represents the Almighty Creator God to a world that has chosen to deny his very existence. She is NOT just another Western-style nation, and she never will be. Her Creator will never allow her to be! (see Ez 20:32)

    There are two huge currents presently at work in this world, that work constantly to undermine the reason WHY Israel was called into being. At a political level, the UN seeks to establish a One World Government. At a religious level, there is an even more insidious agenda- the establishment of a One World Religion.

    These two movements are true bedfellows. What unites them is their rejection of the Creator, as described in Israel’s holy Scriptures, and the Christian Scriptures explain very clearly that these two worldwide movements will increase in power before Messiah’s return. The political movement rejects the Creator outright. But the far more dangerous religious movement seeks to recreate him in a highly toxic manner- as the syncretism of all the world’s religions.

    Humanistic Judaism is an impotent Judaism. It seeks only its own comfort, and it pursues that comfort through increasing compromise and accommodation of its enemies. Joshua never led Israel like that!!
    The only way forward for Israel is a heart return to the Sh’ma:

    “Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad
    [Hear, Isra’el! Adonai our God, Adonai is one]; (Deu 6:4)

    I wish to express my thanks to Brian Schrauger of Jerusalem Journal, whose article greatly assisted me to think through this tremendous shift in Shimon Peres’ life:

    https://jerusalemjournal.net/news-and-views/israel-mourns-a-founding-father-s-death-shimon-peres

    Thank you. Chris

  • Peres went to a Jesuit school thus the link to Rome
    Here’s an article from 2003 by Barry Chamish that highlights some of Peres’s intentions concerning Jerusalem and Rome.

    LET US RECALL a few of the things I wrote in my new book Save Israel that
    almost all of you thought were too fantastic to be real. Shall we begin
    with the latest Peres scheme?

    Peres Raises ‘World Capital’ Solution for Jerusalem
    JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Shimon Peres, the head of Israel’s opposition Labor
    Party, has suggested resolving Israeli-Palestinian conflict over Jerusalem
    by putting its holy sites under U.N. stewardship, a spokesman said Tuesday.
    His plan calls for declaring a holy area of sites sacred to Jews,
    Christians and Muslims in Jerusalem’s old walled city as a “world capital,”
    with the U.N. Secretary-General serving as mayor, Peres’ spokesman Yoram
    Dori told Reuters.
    Israel claims Jerusalem as its capital, including the Arab eastern part
    captured in the 1967 Middle East War and annexed in a move that is not
    recognized internationally. Palestinians want to make East Jerusalem
    capital of the state they hope to establish in the West Bank and Gaza Strip
    (news – web sites) under a U.S.-backed peace plan.
    Peres raised the idea in a meeting with visiting Russian
    diplomats-in-training when they asked how he envisaged a solution to
    conflicting Israeli-Palestinian claims to the city, Dori said.
    Israel has previously rejected proposals raised by the Vatican (news – web
    sites) to internationalize Jerusalem.
    Peres, a former prime minister and an architect of interim peace deals with
    the Palestinians, has not raised the proposal with Israeli or Palestinian
    leaders, Dori said.

    THE JERUSALEM POST added that under the Peres plan, the sovereignty of the
    holy places would revert to their owners. And since the Vatican has the
    lion’s share of real estate claims, guess who gets to own the most holy
    land in Jerusalem?

    AFTER PERES let the cat out of the bag, I was deluged with letters asking
    how ten years ago I knew this was his real objective. The explanation is
    found in Save Israel, pp. 131:

    In March 1994, the newspaper Chadashot revealed a most remarkable secret of
    the Middle East “peace” process. A friend of Shimon Peres, the French
    intellectual Marek Halter, claimed in an interview that in May 1993, he
    delivered a letter from Peres to the pope. Within, Peres promised to
    internationalize Jerusalem, granting the UN political control of the Old
    City of Jerusalem, and the Vatican hegemony of the holy sites within. The
    UN would give the PLO a capital within its new territory and East Jerusalem
    would become a kind of free trade zone of world diplomacy.
    Halter’s claim was backed by the Italian newspaper La Stampa which added
    that Arafat was apprised of the agreement and it was included in the secret
    clauses of the Declaration Of Principles signed in Washington in September
    1993.
    In March 1995, the Israeli radio station Arutz Sheva was leaked a cable
    from the Israeli Embassy in Rome to Peres’s Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem
    confirming the handover of Jerusalem to the Vatican. This cable was printed
    on the front page of the radical leftwing Israeli newspaper, Haaretz two
    days later. A scandal erupted and numerous rabbis who had invited Peres for
    Passover services cancelled their invitations in protest of his treachery.
    Peres reacted by claiming that the cable was real but that someone had
    whited out the word, “not;” the cable really said that Israel would “not”
    hand Jerusalem over to the holy pontiff.Illustrating the sorry political state of Israel’s rabbis, they accepted
    this cockamamie excuse and re-invited Peres to their tables. However, in
    the widely distributed minutes of a meeting with Clinton in 1997, Peres
    reiterated his diplomacy, ending with the words, “as I had previously
    promised the Holy See.”

    http://yitchakrabin.com/Barry%20Cham…03/jul_03.html
    A Moment Gone Is Lost Forever
    A Moment In Prayer Will Last Forever

  • Hamanhanger

    Dr. Martin Sherman is undoubtedly one of the most erudite and perceptive analysts of the situation in Israel and the conflict with the Palestinian Arabs.

    Sometimes, however, his writing reminds me of the old Jewish tale of the rabbi who had to mediate between quarreling husband and wife. When the husband came to see him and make his case, the rabbi nodded and told him “you are right.” When the wife came and listed her grievances, the rabbi nodded and said to her: “you are right.” The rabbi’s wife, who overheard, asked him: “how can you say to both of them that each one is right?” The rabbi answered: “you know what? You are right!”

    It is too easy to use labels like “hawk” and “dove” — and I suspect that we would not all agree, always, on who falls into which category, even though in many cases it is utterly clear. Peres, who was much more of a politician (and then statesman) than an ideologue, always found it relatively easy to preach dovishness when he was acting as a hawk, and to maintain his hawkishness (like regarding settlements) when preaching or promoting the pursuit of peace. That is, in my opinion, the major characteristic which made him different, perhaps, from the other “founding fathers” of modern Israel. (Moshe Sharett and Ezer Weitzman might be exceptions, but the former did not have a clue on how to be a hawk, and the latter did not have a clue how to be anything but a hawk.)

    IMHO, we mourn both “varieties” of Peres — which is what I believe Benjamin Netanyahu was doing.

  • Mladen_Andrijasevic

    Excellent analysis, but how do you explain this out of 1986-2016 character moment in 2009 when Peres quoted the Hamas Charter to Erdogan?

    When Peres quoted the Hamas Charter to Erdogan
    http://madisdead.blogspot.co.il/2016/09/when-peres-quoted-hamas-charter-to.html

  • chrismoyler

    Thank you dear Martin for these reflections, which underline the complexity of Simon Peres’ life.

    Over at Jerusalem Journal, Brian Schrauger also wrote an interesting reflection. His article focused on Peres’ transition from Orthodox Judaism to secular Judaism.

    I believe that he hit the nail firmly on the head, providing a simple but very useful grid through which to properly assess the man.

    This is my own reflection on Brian’s article, which I sincerely hope will weave together with your article here.

    https://jerusalemjournal.net/news-and-views/israel-mourns-a-founding-father-s-death-shimon-peres

    And this is my response to that article:

    People are not black and white are they? They are all a complex mixture of influences and beliefs, and this is clearly the case with Shimon Peres. There will no doubt be many further articles that assess his life, and which will express the nation’s gratitude for his contribution through the stormy time of Israel’s rebirth.

    That is right and good, but I would like to reflect on just one aspect of his life, and that concerns his transition from Orthodox Judaism to humanistic Judaism. The Wikipedia link is especially helpful in seeking to process the thinking which underlies this transition.

    The early years of Israel’s existence as a nation have been extremely turbulent, with huge changes in a very brief timeframe. Often it has been a sheer battle for survival, and then came the intifadas. Israel would seem to live in a perpetual challenge for her very existence, surrounded by much hostility. Yet in the midst of all this hostility, Israel continues to thrive.

    It is right and good that the Jewish people should enjoy this resurrection. After such a very long diaspora, why should they not enjoy the fruit of their regathering? Indeed they should! But in the midst of all this very real success- and who could argue that Israel is not an astounding success- there comes a huge and a silent danger, an enemy who is not beyond Israel’s borders, but rather who seeks to destroy Zionism from within.

    This enemy is not a new enemy, but rather a very old one. In the first three chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses recounts Israel’s history thus far, but in ch4 he begins to teach the people. A powerful theme of this fourth chapter is “do not forget.”

    “Only be careful, and watch yourselves diligently as long as you live, so that you won’t forget what you saw with your own eyes, so that these things won’t vanish from your hearts. Rather, make them known to your children and grandchildren— the day you stood before Adonai your God at Horev, when Adonai said to me, ‘Gather the people to me, and I will make them hear my very words, so that they will learn to hold me in awe as long as they live on earth, and so that they will teach their children.'” (Deu 4:9-10)

    And these famous words of Moses encapsulate Israel’s greatest danger, that the nation forgets WHY she exists! In the battle for her nationhood, the battle itself occupied the heart and mind of the people. Under Joshua, the nation was victorious in the possession of her land, but the Book of Judges remains as a solemn warning of what happened to Israel in the prosperity that followed those incredible victories. Judges is perhaps the saddest book of the entire Hebrew canon. It is particularly sad because it follows hard on the heels of those astounding victories.

    Modern day Israel has won incredible victories at every level- militarily, economically, scientifically and culturally. She is an astounding nation. Yet she is in grave danger of bowing the knee to a humanistic culture that, only 70 years ago, tried to destroy her. Humanistic Judaism seeks to enjoy the fruit of Israel’s recreation while at the same time rejecting the reason for that recreation. Moses warning is very apt at this time:
    He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ (Deu 8:16-17)

    Israel’s recreation has not come solely through the very considerable efforts of her people. It has come through the almighty’s blessing. And that blessing has a central purpose- that she becomes, once again, the nation that represents the Almighty Creator God to a world that has chosen to deny his very existence. She is NOT just another Western-style nation, and she never will be. Her Creator will never allow her to be! (see Ez 20:32)

    There are two huge currents presently at work in this world, that work constantly to undermine the reason WHY Israel was called into being. At a political level, the UN seeks to establish a One World Government. At a religious level, there is an even more insidious agenda- the establishment of a One World Religion.

    These two movements are true bedfellows. What unites them is their rejection of the Creator, as described in Israel’s holy Scriptures, and the Christian Scriptures explain very clearly that these two worldwide movements will increase in power before Messiah’s return. The political movement rejects the Creator outright. But the far more dangerous religious movement seeks to recreate him in a highly toxic manner- as the syncretism of all the world’s religions.

    There is only one way forward for Israel, and that can never be humanistic Judaism. The only way forward is a heart return to the Sh’ma:

    “Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad
    [Hear, Isra’el! Adonai our God, Adonai is one]; (Deu 6:4)

    Thank you. Chris

  • stevejfgb

    Taking a risk for peace, knowing that the odds are that it will not bring peace, does not mean that the decision to take that risk was wrong when peace was not achieved.

    The slight chance of peace was something Rabin and Peres were right to seek because if it was achieved families in Israel could live without fear of their neighbours. For the chance of that it was worth taking the risks involved in the Oslo accords.

    It didn’t work, but it was the right thing to do – to strive for peace.

    • Martin Sherman

      You write:”The slight chance of peace was something Rabin and Peres were right to seek because if it was achieved families in Israel could live without fear of their neighbours. ”

      And we saw how splendidly that worked out.

      When taking a risky decision two things determine whether it was justified or not:

      (a) the probability of of success
      (b) the cost of failure

      Because the former was so low and the latter so great, the Oslo gamble was an a totally irresponsible and unjustified risk- unless you believe jumping off a 30 story building is a good idea…on the off-chance that you might sprout wings and bring to humanity the benefits of unassisted human flight

      • stevejfgb

        There are two more things that should also be considered

        (a) The reward for success
        (b) The consequences of not even trying

        In this case the reward for success would have been peace and the consequences of not even trying would have been absolute certainty that there would not be peace.

        I remember very clearly the peace process in 1997 and wondering whether either the Northern Ireland talks or the talks between the Israelis and Palestinians would reach a successful conclusion. There seemed at the time no more likelihood that there would be an agreement over N. Ireland than there would between Israel and the Palestinians, yet a year later the Good Friday agreement was reached, which appears still to be holding. The prospect of that happening did not appear to be any greater than that of an agreement between Israel and the PLO.

        Israeli negotiator Gilad Sher wrote a best selling book on the 2000-2001 Camp David/Taba talks which was titled “Just beyond Reach”. It certainly was not a foregone conclusion that the negotiations would fail to reach an agreement.

        Israel was right to take the risk for peace because the people, and even future generations, would not have forgiven leaders who didn’t go for it when it seemed that there was a possibility that there was a chance of achieving peace.

        • Martin Sherman

          “Gilad Sher wrote a best selling book on the 2000-2001 Camp David/Taba talks which was titled “Just beyond Reach”. It certainly was not a foregone conclusion that the negotiations would fail to reach an agreement.” Well, of course he would say that as some-one heavily invested in their success.

          The comparison with Northern Ireland is totally inappropriate. N. Ireland is not adjacent, or exposed, to large swathes of neighboring Gallic countries, who could incite radicalization and unrest, insert radical insurgents and otherwise destabilize post-Victory conditions. This is exactly the case with the Israeli-Palestinian situation where the Palestinians are engulf in and by an radical anti-Israel milieu

          You write:
          “There are is two more things that should also be considered

          (a) The reward for success
          (b) The consequences of not even trying”

          There was never any real chance of success as later events clearly demonstrated, and even if there was, the chances of it materializing were so slim as to make the perilous concessions it required, wildly irresponsible.

          The consequences of a more cautious approach were far less disastrous and deadly.

          • stevejfgb

            The IRA had a massive stockpile of well hidden arms already, and there were plenty of people in Ireland who had incited radicalisation for many years before the agreement and continued to do so after it. The difference was that after it very few people (amongst them UK security forces) too any notice.

            The consequence of a more cautious approach to the Northern Ireland peace process would have been no agreement and continuation of the violence that had been going on for almost 30 years, and intermittently breaking out for centuries. (We still can’t say it’s over, but it has at least stopped.)

            The Northern Ireland violence all but ended with a terrible bang in Omagh in August 1998. The terrorists who killed 29 people after the agreement had been reached horrified the community from which hitherto they had drawn their support. If there had been no agreement such attacks would have continued. As it is they have effectively stopped. There are still some terrorist groups, but they are thoroughly infiltrated by UK security forces and so far their worst efforts have been thwarted.

            I am not suggesting that Israel should have been less cautious than they were, I am saying that Israel was right to take the risks that it did in an attempt to achieve peace.

            In my opinion all Israelis, and not just the peace negotiators were, or should have been, heavily invested in the success of peace negotiations.

            If the negotiations had achieved genuine success, Israel and the Palestinians would now be at peace and maybe there would be peace agreement with many other countries in the region.

  • Pinchas Baram

    A brilliant article by Martin Sherman, but Peres’ transformation from strong hawk to super dove remains an enigma, and I wish the author had offered his own explanation. There are many cases in history of sudden conversions, an atheist becomes a true believer, a high priest becomes a total unbeliever, a revolutionary becomes a businessman or bureaucrat, Siddhartha the prince born to luxury becomes the Buddha the wandering monk.

    So what was the catalyst fo Peres’ 180-degree change? I can think of a few factors: the persuasiveness of Yossi Beilin (much as Sharon was suaded by his son Omri) to think big, to think out of the box, and to realize the picture is not all black and white. In effect, both were persuaded to give up their oldtime religion and and hardline views; for otherwise, they would cause themselves embarrassment and be seen as narrow, obsolescent and irrelevant old farts by the new generation and especially by international “leaders”, i.e., the goyshe velt that Jews are always eager to impress.

    Another factor is something I remember Peres saying about what he remembered from his cheder days in Poland. He referred to the Chafetz Chaim of Radin and the latter’s focus on pursuing peace: “Sur me’ra v’aseh tov bakesh shalom and radafayhu.” So Peace became a goal in and of itself, rather than what it should be, i.e., a result, or by-product of security and strength. To Shimon, his peace march was a mix of selective nostalgia for Jewish values and a new political fixation which was of course popular internationally.

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