On Thursday, when Israeli military sources revealed the names of two key suspects in the June 12 abduction of Israeli teenagers Naftali Frenkel, Gil-ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah, outgoing President Shimon Peres was in Washington, DC, receiving the Congressional Gold Medal.
It turns out that Israel’s Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has been investigating the disappearance of Hamas terrorists Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha from their homes near Hebron since the night of the kidnappings, and interrogating many other Palestinians believed to be involved in the scheme. It also emerges that the parents of the captives have been kept in the loop all along.
This puts in context Tuesday’s cabinet decision to scale back the searches for the boys – a move that initially aroused outrage among those of us who feared it indicated the government’s weakening resolve in the face of international condemnation of mass arrests of Palestinians. The reason, in fact, was that the wide net cast over the West Bank hotbeds of terrorism could now be narrowed down and focused.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated his appeal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to rescind his recently forged treaty with Hamas, the organization behind the kidnappings. Though the PA, too, promotes violence against Jews and Israel – and its press has been lauding the abductions through mockery – Netanyahu must figure that he has a better chance of being heard when fingering Hamas, which is more widely recognized as a full-fledged terrorist group.
Netanyahu’s tactics are understandable.
The media and education system that Abbas controls may be filled with anti-Semitic vitriol, but the PA president himself is still viewed by Western liberals as a potential partner for peace with Israel.
Nevertheless, it is a grave mistake for Netanyahu to assist in the perpetuation of this myth. Nor has his willingness to play along with the charades of a hostile US administration ever gained him any brownie points, not even in the joint-interest realm of staving off a nuclear Iran.
No, the Israeli figure who has been honored on Capitol Hill for “strengthening US-Israel ties” since both President Barack Obama and Netanyahu took office in 2009 is Peres. Indeed, the elder statesman, who used to be ridiculed for losing every election for asserting that a “new Middle East” was just around the corner, is the type of leader liberals can relate to – especially foreign ones, who can appreciate a leftist with a taste for the finer things in life.
Treated like royalty by Hollywood, the Vatican and Silicon Valley for his panache and political correctness, is it any wonder that the former hawk and proud socialist, who sings the “Internationale” every May Day while praising entrepreneurship, relishes his many trips abroad? Yes, the celebrity politician, whose self-organized 90th birthday party last summer included being serenaded by Barbara Streisand and toasted (for the small fee of $500,000) by Bill Clinton, keeps raking in the prizes for his dreams of peace.
That only war has ever ensued is beside the point.
Take the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize he won, together with subsequently slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and since defunct Palestinian Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat.
This he was granted for the signing of the Oslo Accords – a deal resulting in a suicide-bombing onslaught by the Palestinians against Israeli civilians.
Then there’s the honorary knighthood he received in 2008 from Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace. This preceded Israel’s launching of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, after years of incessant missile fire into southern Israel. It followed the 2006 Second War in Lebanon, necessitated by Hezbollah rockets raining down on Israel’s northern cities.
In 2012, while Obama was constantly snubbing Netanyahu, the US president awarded Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the two highest civil honors. The second was that which he received on Thursday, while Netanyahu was busy searching for the abducted teens and fending off missile attacks from Gaza and verbal assaults from around the globe for using “excessive force.”
If this travesty were not sufficient to induce nausea, Peres’ acceptance speech before members of Congress, Jewish leaders and diplomats did the trick.
“Many people call me a dreamer,” he said. “I suppose that’s why I have always felt at home here in America.
America that was given the privilege to carry the dreams of humanity. My own first dream was to be a shepherd on a kibbutz. This dream came true.
At dawn, I watched the sheep in order not to lose one. At night, I watched the stars in order not to miss one....”
“I want to thank my friend and Israel’s friend, President Barack Obama, for standing by our side with an unshakable commitment to Israel’s security.... Like President Obama, Israel hopes that the issue of Iran will be resolved peacefully. And like President Obama, we believe that Iran should be judged by actions not words....”
“Israel did and will do everything in our power to bring home our three kidnapped boys [whose parents] asked me to speak here on their behalf. To make your voices heard all over the world to help bring our boys home. To sound a call across the world against terror. Let’s raise our voices together against terrorism....”
“America and Israel should continue to work together to advance peace.Wars can be waged alone. Peace calls for a collective effort... I hope that we will be able to renew peace talks with the Palestinians soon... President Abbas is clearly a partner for peace....”
“So I ask only one thing of you, the United States of America, this mighty nation of dreamers. Don’t dream small.... Dream big. And work to will those dreams into a new reality. For you and all humanity....”
One old reality that the parents of Naftali, Gilad and Eyal are not permitted to forget is that whenever Peres and his ilk express their dreams of peace, the rest of us in Israel should grab our children and run for cover.
The writer is the author of To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’