Amos Oz to speak at Peres funeral after outrage from Left

“He was larger than life... Israel has never had such a leader. His contribution to everything good in Israel was huge. He was also the best teller of Israel’s story.”

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September 29, 2016 12:29
2 minute read.

Israel and the world bid farewell to Shimon Peres

Israel and the world bid farewell to Shimon Peres

Former president Shimon Peres’s family added dovish author Amos Oz to the list of speakers at Friday’s funeral after Labor Party officials expressed outrage on Thursday that a representative of the Israeli Left would not be speaking.

The Labor officials hoped that party chairman Isaac Herzog would be invited to join President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, who are all members of the Likud, at Friday’s ceremony.

“It is wrong that there is no representative of Peres’s political camp speaking at his funeral,” Labor MK Amir Peretz said. “There will be no one there to express the views of half the nation.”

Former Knesset speaker Shevah Weiss of Labor said it was wrong to give honors at the funeral to “people who opposed Peres’s basic ideals.”

Culture Minister Miri Regev, whose committee is in charge of organizing the funeral, responded that the opposition leader does not normally speak at such events according to protocol, and that due to the proximity of Shabbat, no speeches would be added.

Herzog himself downplayed the demand in his party for him to speak at the funeral, saying that there were already too many speeches set for the event. He praised Peres at a meeting of the Zionist Union faction that was called at the Knesset on Thursday to memorialize the man who led the Labor Party for 15 years.

“He was larger than life,” Herzog said at the meeting.

“Israel has never had such a leader. His contribution to everything good in Israel was huge. He was also the best teller of Israel’s story.”

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni praised Peres for realizing that Israel needed both a nuclear capability and peace, and that one enabled the other. She said he also proved that in politics, it is possible to win after multiple losses by sticking to ideals.

“He defeated the hate against him without losing his vision,” she said. “We aren’t parting from his vision of peace, because we owe it, not to him but to our grandchildren.”

Veteran former Labor MKs Uzi Baram and Avraham Katz-Oz complained that Peres’s legacy was becoming universalized at the expense of his political camp. Katz-Oz recalled talking to Peres two days before he went to the hospital about whether the Peres Center for Peace focused too much on innovation and not enough on peace.

“There are those trying to connect Peres to all of the people of Israel, but the central message that he generated is that of this camp, which would not have existed without him,” Baram said.


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