On June 10, the Knesset will elect President Shimon Peres’s successor. As he departs the President’s Residence at the end of June, the media will provide saturation coverage of his final days and tell us over and over that Peres is the greatest statesman in Jewish history. His personal gravitas is Israel’s single most important asset in the world, they will say as they warn of our bleak future without him.
The upcoming Peres-is-a-Superhero festival will just be the latest of the narcissistic, tasteless celebrations of this man, always choreographed expertly by Peres and his retinue of media groupies.
Like his 80th and 85th birthdays, Peres’s 90th birthday celebration went on for a month. As the serving president, his last two monthlong benders cost the taxpayers millions of shekels and broke the budget of the President’s Residence.
All were replete with international celebrity guests like Nelson Mandela, Bono and Bill Clinton whom the press drooled over.
Hyperventilating reporters paused between drinks to mournfully note that after Peres leaves office, the parties will end and the A-listers will stop visiting.
And that’s the problem with Peres’s showboating. It’s always been all about him, never about us.
Peres’s popularity among the jet-setters never translates into international support for the State of Israel. Israel is but a prop for him – a means of securing the continued support of the beautiful people.
Actually, it’s worse than that. Peres’s international popularity has always grown in indirect proportion to Israel’s. The more Hollywood stars he adds to his collection, the worse Israel’s international isolation.
This makes sense. Ever since Peres became the architect of the phony peace process with the PLO in 1993, the world outside has used its embrace of him as a means of hiding its hostility to Israel.
Governments that adopt anti-Israel positions, and individuals who condemn us regularly, use Peres, whom they lionize as Israel’s “elder statesman,” to falsely represent their hostile behavior as proof of friendship.
Hence the likes of Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan could show up at Peres’s birthday parties, get their pictures taken with him, and then turn around and bash Israel as the chief obstruction to peace in the Middle East.
Hence Yasser Arafat could “show his commitment to peace” by meeting with Peres hours after his henchmen carried out heinous crimes, like the lynch of IDF reservists in Ramallah in 2000, or the massacre of Israeli teenagers at the Dolphinarium discotheque in Tel Aviv in 2001, and so deny the government the ability to retaliate.
Peres is beloved by the media and the rest of the leftist elites, and despised by much of the public, for his role in engineering the fake peace process with the PLO.
Some 1,500 Israelis lost their lives because of his initiative. Israel’s international standing, which was reaching new heights with the end of the Cold War, has in the intervening years plummeted to previously unknown depths.
Peres sent his emissaries to Oslo to negotiate with senior PLO terrorists in breach of Israeli law, and without the knowledge, let alone the authorization, of his boss, then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. It was arguably the worst strategic blunder in Jewish history.
Yet, as he exits the President’s Residence, embracing the PLO will not be the worst or the most catastrophic mistake of his career.
In the fullness of time, compared to his latest debacle, Peres’s initiation and maintenance of the Oslo process will be but a footnote in his career as Israel’s most illustrious subversive.
Peres’s most significant legacy will be the nuclear arsenal he leaves behind.
No, not Israel’s purported nuclear arsenal that Peres’s flaks eagerly claim he is solely responsible for developing.
Peres’s legacy will be Iran’s nuclear arsenal.
For years, many Israelis as well as Israel’s supporters in the US, the Sunni Arab states in the Persian Gulf and even the French have been scratching their heads wondering why Israel hasn’t struck Iran’s nuclear installations yet. Over the past few months, we received our answer.
The ongoing police investigation into allegedly illegal conduct by then-IDF Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi has revealed the source of Israel’s paralysis.
Apparently led by Peres, the triumvirate of security chiefs serving between 2008 and 2011 – Ashkenazi, then-Mossad director Meir Dagan and then-Shin Bet director Avi Dichter – colluded to undermine Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s and then-defense minister Ehud Barak’s legal authority to order Israel’s security forces to take action against Iran.
According to a Haaretz report on Wednesday, between 2008 and 2011, the four men leaked plans and discussions of possible Israeli strikes on Iran to the media in order to prevent them from being carried out. The four men opposed an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear installations and stridently rejected any Israeli operation not coordinated with the US.
Ashkenazi and his associates are being investigated by the police for crimes associated with criminal insubordination to Israel’s elected leadership. Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein ordered the police probe in January after information unearthed by the media and by the State Comptroller’s Office raised strong suspicions of a conspiracy led by Ashkenazi to usurp the powers of the government.
According to media reports of the investigation, the police have discovered tape recordings of numerous telephone conversations between Ashkenazi and Peres. According to Channel 1 and Haaretz, Peres’s attorney requested that Weinstein prohibit the publication of the details of phone conversations.
Haaretz’s report didn’t specifically state that the conversations in question related to actions by Peres and the security chiefs to prevent military operations against Iran’s nuclear weapons program. But the same day the report appeared, Amir Oren, Haaretz’s senior commentator, published an article praising Peres for preventing Israel from attacking Iran.
Oren wrote, “Peres’s involvement in blocking the Iranian adventure [i.e., a military attack against Iran’s nuclear installations] is… the most important action he took as president.”
As Amnon Lord wrote last December in Makor Rishon, Peres’s role in the security chiefs’ conspiracy to prevent Netanyahu and Barak from ordering a strike against Iran’s nuclear installations was to provide “pseudo-constitutional and pseudo- moral support” for their unlawful subversion.
The four men were very likely not acting by themselves. Lord argued that the Obama administration was a fifth partner in this criminal conspiracy.
The US was represented in its efforts by the then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen. Mullen visited Israel almost every month during this period and constantly praised Ashkenazi’s leadership publicly.
As Lord noted, these trips were reciprocated by Ashkenazi and then-Military Intelligence commander Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin who flew regularly to Washington.
For the Americans, Lord wrote, the point of cultivating these ties was “to influence the IDF’s high command and cut it off from the political leadership of Israel.”
In the case of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, as in the case of the phony peace process, Peres’s motivation, like that of Ashkenazi, Dichter and Dagan, was clear and crass. He wanted power.
The facts already established by the Ashkenazi et. al. conspiracy probe reveal that from his earliest days as chief of staff, Ashkenazi was preparing the ground for a post-IDF run for prime minister. His will to rule distorted his perception of his place in the chain of command. Instead of viewing Netanyahu and Barak as his commanders, as the law stipulates, he saw them as his political rivals, and behaved accordingly.
As for Peres, he had been searching for a leftist politician who could defeat Netanyahu. Ashkenazi was his knight in shining armor.
This is why Peres launched a public campaign after Ashkenazi retired in 2011 to give Ashkenazi immunity from the law requiring military personnel to wait a year between their retirement from the service and their entrance into politics.
Leaking top secret information about internal discussions and plans related to military attacks on Iran is a treasonous act. If, as seems likely, the probe reveals collusion between the four men and the Obama administration, that would represent another act of treason.
But leaving treason aside, the questions still arises: How could these men, who were charged with protecting the state from its enemies, act as they did? There are plenty of ways to gain political power. Why would they try to advance their political fortunes by undermining Israel’s ability to prevent Iran – which has made our annihilation its declared goal – from acquiring nuclear weapons?
The tragedy of Israel is that under the guidance of narcissists like Peres, Israel’s elites have over time adopted his overweening sense of entitlement and his puerile view of the world. Encouraged by Peres and others like him, men like Ashkenazi, Diskin and Dagan view Netanyahu as a usurper. He comes from the wrong side of the ideological and social tracks.
By daring to get elected and reelected, Netanyahu, they believe, is taking away what is rightfully theirs. And so, as they see it, he deserves no respect. Their job as public servants is to either topple his government or make it impossible for him to govern, or both.
This sense of entitlement is made worse by a provincial and childlike view of the world where actions have no consequences, threats are in our heads, and lunch is always free.
Peres and the security brass have repeatedly argued that Iran’s nuclear program is a US problem, not an Israeli one, and that Israel can trust President Barack Obama to take care of it for us.
It doesn’t matter to them that Obama has made clear by word and deed that Israel cannot trust him on Iran. The same men who think the worst of Netanyahu and will stop at nothing to prevent him from making the decisions for which he was elected, take everything Obama and his advisers say at face value.
In Peres’s case, he’s been pretending away the consequences of his own actions for 20 years. His narcissistic, sociopathic view of the world has blinded him to the devastating outcome of his embrace of the PLO. And now that it is obvious that the US will do nothing to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power, Peres behaves as though there is no cause for concern.
In his meeting earlier this month with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Peres scoffed at the mounting danger of a nuclear Iran with his signature inanity, saying, “President Obama said the US shouldn’t be the policemen of the world and I agree. The US should be the peacemaker of the world.”
This sort of self-indulgent gibberish is devastating for the country. Now, as Iran’s nuclear advance appears all but unstoppable, Israel requires sober-minded leaders who measure their success by how their actions benefit Israel. If Peres really does exit the scene at the end of next month, perhaps we will finally get them.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.