(photo credit: AP [file])
The protocol of Vice Premier Shimon Peres's testimony before the Winograd Committee makes for breathtaking reading.
This is not so much for his views on the Lebanon War as for what Israel's most senior statesman has to say about Israel's continuing battle for legitimacy against the international Left, his newfound preference for the "Jordanian option" and his suggestions for utilizing technology to create a new deterrent against our enemies, just as he did some 50 years ago under circumstances which still can't be disclosed.
But right now, the only thing we're really interested in is whom does he blame for the failures in Lebanon.
Actually, Peres claims that he's blaming no one. Apparently he thinks that it's too easy to criticize the leadership and he won't take any part in the blame game. But he still says that "if it were up to me, I wouldn't have gotten into this war" and "wouldn't have drawn up the list of objectives," and that sounds like one hell of an accusation. So who is Peres pointing the finger at for pursuing a pointless war? Could it be the prime minister?
Perhaps, but Peres has gone out of his way this week twice to praise Ehud Olmert's record as prime minister, both during the war and right now.
We all know Peres has no regard for the defense minister. After all, he left Amir Peretz's Labor party 15 months ago. Yet Peres seems to have had no trouble until now serving in the same government as Peretz. And neither have we ever heard a bad word from him on the IDF commander during the war, Dan Halutz.
So, again, who bears responsibility for the war according to Peres?
This is perhaps the most important paragraph in his testimony: "Israel is no longer what it was. Not brilliant, not surprising, not creative. We have lost a little of our international deterrence. We are considered weaker than we were and have lost our deterrence towards the Arabs, and this manifests itself in delegitimization of Israel."
In other words, once upon a time we were much better - small, clever, efficient and, most important of all, the whole world, including the lefties in Europe and the Arabs around us, could not but admire what we had achieved here.
And who was the magician, the young and brilliant civil servant who traveled the globe using every trick in the book to buy up weapons for the IDF, rewriting the book in the process? Who was the visionary who dreamed up the deal with France and harnessed the Jewish genius that built the "textile plant" near Dimona that became the worst nightmare of the Arab leaders? Why, that was Shimon Peres, of course.
And now, laments the vice premier, we've lost our edge. The cunning adversary in the Middle East is Hassan Nasrallah, while the IDF's officers look old, tired and bumbling.
Peres's message to Winograd was that the war wasn't the fault of any single politician or general, nor even a group of them. It was all of us, the entire state of Israel who had forgotten what it was to be Shimon Peres. He was singing a requiem for himself.