(photo credit: )
Long before they joined together in an effort to make peace, former prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres made war - with each other.
A new documentary that will be aired tonight on Channel 2 at 10 p.m. called "Rabin-Peres: Everything is Personal" chronicles the animosity between the two men as it developed throughout their six decades of public feuding.
The current inter-party squabbling between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu and MK Silvan Shalom and among the Labor leadership candidates all pale in comparison to the hostilities between Rabin and Peres detailed in the film.
Director Arik Henig takes viewers through the interweaving history of the State of Israel and the two men who planned to lead it, interviewing people close to Rabin and Peres to put the historical events and their role in perspective.
Henig illustrates how many of the most important decisions in Israel's history were made by Rabin or Peres with the express purpose of harming the other personally and politically, including the raid at Entebbe, the launch of the settlement movement and the signing of the Oslo Accords on the White House lawn.
The documentary begins by showing Peres's and Rabin's divergent backgrounds in Poland and Jerusalem, and the different upbringing the immigrant and the Sabra received ahead of the formation of the Jewish state. It shows how Peres rose politically at a young age while Rabin advanced through the ranks of the army.
As early as 1964, MK Peres advised prime minister David Ben-Gurion not to appoint Rabin as the IDF's chief of General Staff. A decade later, they faced off in the first inter-party leadership race in Israel's history, which Peres lost - his first in a string of defeats.
Political realities forced the two men to repeatedly appoint the other as their No. 2 and work together, a recipe for political intrigue and constant infighting in the upper echelons of power.
Whenever one man succeeded, the other tried to take credit for it, and whenever one failed, the other was always there with a knife at his back. Many of the times that one man blamed the other, it was baseless, but it didn't matter as long as he took the fall.
Peres never overcame Rabin's branding him as a "relentless underminer," an expression that Rabin used with glee when suggested by his biographer. The documentary shows footage of the two men viciously attacking each other at party conventions, with both sneering and pretending not to listen to the other.
"I never wrote a book about you or called you names," Peres shouted at Rabin. "If there was a failure on my part, you were a full partner in it."
Even until their last days together, when they shared a Nobel Peace Prize in Stockholm and sang the "Peace Song" together in Tel Aviv before Rabin's assassination, Rabin continued to refer to Peres as "the snake," and expressed concern that Peres would pursue him until his final day.
Henig, who worked on the documentary for five years, is known for his documentaries on sports. The battle he portrays between Rabin and Peres is every bit as nasty as the ultimate sports rivalry.
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