President Shimon Peres these days casually dismisses talk of his return to
politics as “mere speculation. I myself never said anything.” He rarely does. He
just enjoys the hype. He relishes the buildup, the attention and
But, despite the thrill and flattery, there really is no way
Peres would have fallen for the dubious temptations tossed his way to headline a
new Knesset list – perhaps a reborn Kadima – with Tzipi Livni as his number
It would have been a perfect pretext to allow Livni to climb down
from her claim to top-billing, regardless with whom she might run. Her hubris
notwithstanding, she surely never possessed the drawing power to field a ticket
exclusively reliant on her own charisma. Any potential running mates are
unlikely to yield the primacy to her, based on nothing but her own high
Therefore, Peres definitely is just what her spin doctors
might prescribe – a bigtime name, for whose sake it would be no dishonor to
vacate first slot. At the same time, as a very elder statesman, Peres is
presumed to present no long-term political threat. It can get no better – but
only for Tzipi.
Trouble is there’s nothing in it for
Besides the fact that he has never won a national election, he
cannot possibly surpass the renown which titular head-of-state status confers
upon him. It’s the ultimate career-culminating rank. It enables him to satisfy
his yen for globetrotting, for rubbing shoulders with the international who’s
who, the literati and glitterati, the news-makers and opinion-shapers. The world
is his oyster and there’s plenty of opportunity for making mischief, too, which
has always Peres’s particular penchant.
It still is. No sooner did PA
President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) fleetingly seem to forgo the right to
inundate sovereign Israel with millions of so-called Palestinian refugees, then
Peres – in flagrant contradiction to the government’s stance – waxed ecstatic
about the ostensible breakthrough.
Extolling Abbas’s “courage,” Peres
insisted that the Fatah chieftain from Ramallah “proves with his words and his
actions that Israel has a true partner for peace.”
This was despite the
fact that hot on the heels of the commotion Abbas stirred up (geared to skew
Israel’s electoral debate), he reneged on his every word when addressing his
home crowd in Arabic.
Even if we assume that Abbas was disingenuous to
his own power base, how could he deliver any goods under any deal if he lacks
his own people’s backing? But typically, Peres’s hearing continued to be as
selective as ever. Abbas’s instantaneous about-turn appeared to have escaped
Peres’s notice. “Abu Mazen,” insisted our president (whose role behooves him to
remain above partisan polemics), “has condemned terror and has pledged that
under his leadership there will not be a third intifada. He understands very
well that the solution to the Palestinian refugee problem cannot be within
Israeli territory, in order not to change the demographic makeup of
Why credit Abbas with renouncing terror when his controlled
media daily glorifies the most heinous of mass-murderers, when terror kingpins
become role models in schools whose curricula Abbas determines and when clerics
on his payroll fan jihadist ardor? Only Peres knows. Perhaps he assumes that his
blandishments alone can sway Abbas (regardless of the fact that the masses
reject reconciliation even in Ramallah, to say nothing of fanatic
Or it may be that, as in his heyday, Peres just can’t resist
putting spokes in the government’s wheels. Whatever discomfits Binyamin
Netanyahu delights Peres.
Hence Peres took the initiative to phone Abbas
and chitchat with him. The attendant publicity boosted Abbas, annoyed Bibi and
blew Avigdor Liberman’s fuse.
Great fun, ballyhoo galore but hardly
unexpected. Peres stays true to character.
When he campaigned for the
presidency in 2007, I wrote: “How Peres would exploit presidential office, given
his past predilections, boggles the mind. A Peres presidency would be invitation
to intrigue. It’s safe to assume he wouldn’t make do with a figurehead role, but
would hyperactively preside over a parallel government and spawn an unimaginable
surfeit of inventive visions, plans and proposals. Their common denominator
would be the increasing Palestinization of this land and dangerous compromising
of what Golda Meir called ‘the Jewish national interest.’” There was plenty
since then to vindicate this forecast. Peres’s extracurricular activities do
tirelessly proliferate. Moreover, they appear remarkably déjà vu.
2010 Haaretz (which fully approves of the president’s hijinks) reported that
“Talks have recently been under way to arrange a summit meeting in Rome between
President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The
talks have reportedly been carried out without the involvement or even the
knowledge of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whom Abbas has persistently
refused to meet.”
Peres’s same old modus operandi? It doesn’t matter if
anything materialized from the sensation. The buzz sufficed to set the
proverbial cat among the pigeons, which is maybe all Peres was after at the
time. Another news story from nearly three years ago informed us that “Peres,
who is working overtime as super-foreign minister... has held private talks
recently with political figures, in which he is pushing, as only he knows how,
for the cooption of Kadima into the government to enhance Netanyahu’s diplomatic
Why? Haaretz elaborated that Peres “has been making
statements to the effect that Netanyahu cannot advance the peace process with
the present coalition government controlled by the right wing.” Get It? Peres
chronically dropped hints that he dislikes the composition of a legally
constituted government and would welcome changes to the legitimate status
He dynamically ingrains the impression of a two-pronged Israeli
government. He represents the high-minded, forwardthinking variant, whereas its
counterpart is both benighted and inept. Netanyahu’s government isn’t distinctly
pro-peace (if not worse) whereas Peres’s is on the side of the angels and has
their sanction to present Netanyahu with faits accomplis.
Peres is a dab-hand at engineering facts. Long before his own presidency and
Netanyahu’s premiership, Peres pursued furtive assignations during the tenures
of two premiers. Covertly, behind the backs of both, he conspired in violation
of every conceivable democratic principle.
Three years pre-Oslo, in 1990
– when Israel was governed by the second unity coalition under Yitzhak Shamir –
Peres (then already not for the first time) engaged in unauthorized freelance
When Shamir rejected Peres’s ultimatum (hatched with the
infamous James Baker), Peres plotted to bring down Shamir’s government, which he
did. To Peres’s exasperation, however, he subsequently failed to put together a
substitute coalition. Yitzhak Rabin, who branded Peres “an unrelenting
underminer,” dubbed this “the stinking maneuver.”
Ironically, when Rabin
later won the premiership, recidivist Peres sidetracked him, too, as he had
Shamir. The difference was that Shamir fired Peres, whereas Rabin fell for the
Almost 2,000 Israelis were murdered, and thousands
maimed for life. Stretches of historical homeland were relinquished and
strategic assets surrendered to genocidal enemies, whom Peres imported here by
the tens of thousands from Tunis as per the Oslo Accords.
hostile Arabs were added onto Israel’s population to further “family reunions”
under Oslo. Those who made egregious concessions to still-implacable foes
dramatically exacerbated Israel’s demographic distress, the very one which
purportedly served as their pretext for the Osloite machination in the first
Peres’s “New Middle East,” Oslo subterfuge and derivative Nobel
Peace Prize earned him prodigious accolades from chic international
cheerleaders. Yet here, in the sands of the reprobate Mideast, Oslo caused Arab
aspirations to replace Israel and the delegitimization of Israel’s very
existence to be tolerated as never previously in the valued venues of Peres’s
Peres conferred respectability upon Fatah and ushered
in Hamas rampages. In pre-Oslo days there was less call for targeted strikes,
road blocks, security fences and suchlike image-tarnishing measures. There was
more peace prior to Peres’s peace.
Where Peres is concerned, unremitting
vigilance is of paramount importance. No one has the right to be surprised.
Peres’s irrepressible tinkering is every bit as predictable as were the
unmitigated debacles of his pet Oslo project and of all its defeatist direct
Just as foreseeable was that the unilateral 2000 escape from
Lebanon would invigorate Arab hostility, that the unilateral withdrawal from
Gush Katif in 2005 would embolden terror as never before and facilitate Gaza’s
takeover by the most extreme of radicals. No powers of prophesy were needed to
figure out that constant pullbacks from previously held negotiating positions,
and unceasing retreats from hitherto consensual “red lines,” would bring war
closer and render accommodation more distant.
All these were as eminently
inevitable as are Peres’s compulsory meddling, uncontainable prestige-craving,
obsessive love of the limelight and infatuation with center stage.
aforementioned paid off too handsomely to remotely entice Peres to even consider
a last campaign run with Tzipi.
No other Israeli can boast Peres’s
celebrity in the world’s long-established and ever-expanding haunts of
Much as they revile us there, they are likely to
Peres is the indubitable darling of the world’s trendiest
and most beautiful headliners.
How diametrically opposed is the affection
showered upon him to pejoratives like “hardline,” “intransigent,” or
“inflexible” that always accompanied Golda’s name (though she hardly headed a
government which Peres could have described as right-wing).
Golda explained to me why she was so unloved internationally. “It’s so easy to
win the world’s love,” she observed. “Just do as they wish. If you don’t,
they’ll hate you.”
She shrugged: “What can I do? The world isn’t enamored
of the Jewish national cause. The more you insist on Jewish interests, the less
popular you’ll be and vice versa.”
Unlike her nemesis Peres, Golda
preferred to be hated and diagnosed as hopelessly afflicted with “the Masada
She herself traced her outlook back to her early childhood
memories of bloody pogroms in the Czarist pale of Jewish settlement, which
impelled her family to flee to America. Her personal trauma was also the seminal
trauma of several Jewish generations.
But what is all that to Peres?
Another dispensable truth that can be scarified in his charm offensive. Thus he
has just profusely thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin, on yet another
junket, for “a thousand years of Russian hospitality to Jews.”
but absolutely nothing, will dissuade Peres from making