|Streisand, Clinton, Peres and Netanyahu (Reuters photo)|
From the time of his meteoric rise under David Ben-Gurion, Shimon Peres has been an almost constant presence at the centers of power in Israel. He has shown boundless energy on behalf of Israel, but sadly has not achieved the peace he labored for, most dramatically in the 1990s. And his critics (including ourselves at times) have much to say about his failures.
Our critiques at this blog include: Rabin-Peres: The Personal Is Political, Peres Keeps On Going and Missed Opportunities. More vitriolic recent critiques include “President Peres’ evening of lies” by Ha’aretz columnist Gideon Levy and “When the Gods Laugh” by his 90-year old contemporary, radical peacenik Uri Avnery. Levy and especially Avnery are unforgiving in their tone, but they are more correct than not. Here’s a pivotal point in recent history as depicted by Avnery:
The assassination of Rabin was a turning point for Peres. …. 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 [bombarded, actually–ed.], a sure means to gain popularity. But something went wrong, artillery fire caused a massacre of civilians in a UN camp, and the operation came to an inglorious end. Peres lost the elections, Netanyahu came to power.Later, when the feared Ariel Sharon was elected, Peres offered him his services. [Peres joined Sharon’s new more moderate Kadima party in 2005.–ed.] He successfully whitewashed Sharon’s bloody image in the world.