Israeli President Shimon Peres created a stir on Monday when he delivered a
speech at the World Economic Forum in Jordan that strayed far beyond his
circumscribed presidential mandate.
In a short and somewhat rambling
address, and in remarks to reporters afterwards, the 89- year-old head of state
made a number of brash and blatantly political statements that could just as
easily have been penned by a pro-Palestinian speechwriter.
[Mahmoud] Abbas, you are our partner and we are yours,” he said, as though
oblivious to the fact that the Palestinian leader has steadfastly refused
Israeli pleas to return to the negotiating table. Then, in a sentence as
contorted as the logic behind it, Peres opined that, “What holds back the
renewal of the peace negotiations are some gaps in the bridge between the
beginning and the conclusion.”
Sorry, Shimon, but that is just
balderdash. The Palestinians have repeatedly insisted on various preconditions
before talks can resume and they would like the outcome of the negotiations
essentially predetermined. It is that – and not “some gaps in the bridge” –
whatever that means – which has prevented a resumption of diplomatic
But the truly troubling aspect of Peres’ remarks is that he
performed a great service to the Palestinian cause by obfuscating reality and
portraying both sides as equally responsible for the current
This is moral relativism at its worst, and it merely reduces the
pressure on the Palestinians to act in good faith. As the president of Israel,
Peres should have defended the Jewish state’s position rather than try to
ingratiate himself to his audience at Israel’s expense.
Indeed, not once
did Peres use the word “terror” in his speech, nor did he refer to rocket
attacks from Gaza or the Hamas regime which holds sway there. Instead, he
offered an astonishingly naive and simplistic view of just how easy it should be
to resolve a century of conflict.
“It’s time for peace. It shouldn’t be
I do believe it is a real possibility,” he said,
belying the fact that the 20 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords have
only pushed peace further away than ever.
Some like to view Peres as an
irrepressible optimist, but when optimism becomes completely detached from
reality, it is more akin to delusion than to hope. And this is hardly the first
time that our timeworn president has demonstrated an unwillingness to come to
grips with the world as it exists, rather than how he would like to imagine
In interviews last month with The Jerusalem Post and with the Walla
news site, Peres insisted that he did not regret the Oslo Accords, even though
they sparked the worst wave of terrorism in Israel’s history. “There were terror
victims before the Oslo Accords,” he told Walla, as though that somehow
diminishes the stain of responsibility from his record.
Just to put the
facts in context: in the five years after Oslo, more Israelis were killed by
Palestinian terrorists than in the 15 years prior to the signing of the
agreement. A total of 279 men, women and children were murdered in the
half-decade following the accords, while 254 were killed in the previous 15
And in the two decades since Peres and Yitzhak Rabin cooked up
Oslo and forged a deal with Yasser Arafat in September 1993, over 1,400 Israelis
have lost their lives to Palestinian terror.
Rather than acknowledge this
devastating failure, Peres could not find it within himself to utter even a word
of remorse or guilt. And that is what is truly remarkable about his observations
in Jordan: not that Peres delivered them, but that so many people still take him
Peres brought disaster upon the country, handed parts of our
ancient homeland over to our enemies, gave them weapons and thereby begat the
most lethal period of anti-Israel terror in our history, and yet he still does
not shy away from offering sage advice about how to resolve the
That is like the captain of the Hindenburg
offering flying lessons, Lindsey Lohan preaching about responsible drinking or
Barack Obama expounding about fiscal discipline.
Yes, Peres had a long
and storied career, and he made important contributions to the country and its
development in a wide variety of fields. But he was also directly responsible
for one of the greatest strategic errors in Israel’s history, for which we are
still paying a heavy price.
And that is precisely why his propagandizing
is so infuriating. As president, he has no right to interfere in the policy
decisions of the elected government. And as a failed leader, Peres would do best
to keep his opinions to himself.
As he himself noted at the outset of his
talk in Jordan on Monday, “History is made of biographies of men and women who
failed to forecast the future.”
Clearly, Shimon Peres is one of them.