President Shimon Peres podium 311.
(photo credit: Replay Productions)
Racism, intolerance for the opinions of others, lack of solidarity and
incitement are some of the maladies within different sectors of the nation that
trouble President Shimon Peres.
The president declined to comment on
Monday on the split of the Labor Party that he was once led.
Beit Hanassi spokeswoman Ayelet Frish told The Jerusalem Post
that next Monday,
Peres will deliver a fiery address to the Knesset in which he will raise many of
the issues that have caused him shame and anger in recent weeks.
has already given expression to the shame he felt as a Jew over the letter
signed by a number of rabbis endorsing the edict of Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel
Eliahu not to rent or sell property to non-Jews.
Peres was outraged that
Eliahu could so disregard the biblical injunction to “rejoice with the stranger
in thy midst.”
He is also unhappy that rabbis are interfering in
political and diplomatic issues, as for instance the Rabbinical Congress for
Peace that in large advertisements has publicly petitioned Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu to refrain from any further withdrawal from
The petition signed by around 250 out of the 350 prominent
rabbis who protested recent statements by Netanyahu in which he said that he was
prepared to make additional diplomatic and territorial concessions so that the
Palestinians would return to the negotiating table. It included the name of
Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren, who died on 1994. Notably missing from the signatories
were Chief Rabbis Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger and Shas spiritual mentor and
former Sephardi Chief Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Peres is upset at the extent of
corruption among public figures.
And in many of the speeches that he has
given over the past year or two, Peres has spoken of the right to be
These and other issues of concern will take up much of the
president’s address, yet at the same time he will not overlook the amazing
spirit of volunteerism among nearly all sectors of the population that he has
found in his travels throughout the country.
Last week, when he was still
minister for welfare and social services, Isaac Herzog urged Peres to lead a
strenuous campaign against racism, incitement by fundamentalist rabbis and the
persecution of human rights organizations.
The speech that Peres will
deliver on Monday will in part be in response to Herzog’s
Meanwhile, Beit Hanassi has released a statement in which the
president calls on the Knesset to desist from establishing a parliamentary
committee to investigate the foreign funding of left-wing NGOs.
democracy there has to be a clear division of roles between the different
authorities, Peres said. In this context he quoted his mentor, prime minister
David Ben- Gurion, who said that politicians should not be judges and judges
should not be politicians.
In the president’s opinion, “The investigation
of organizations and foundations, whether from the Left or the Right, must be
left to law enforcement authorities, who possess the expertise, the objectivity
and the appropriate investigative tools.”
Peres is convinced that the
establishment of a parliamentary committee to investigate funding would bring
unnecessary harm to Israel’s democracy.