amir peretz 88.
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New Labor chairman Amir Peretz may have the drive and the skills to be a leader, but does he have the English?
A former Foreign Ministry official who heard him speak at a dinner for Yitzhak Rabin Center donors on Sunday night said that Peretz made a fool of himself by mispronouncing, slurring and even skipping words in his speech. He said that Peretz should have spoken in Hebrew as other Israelis did at the event.
"It was really embarrassing," the official said. "It was clear to everyone that he didn't have any idea what he was talking about."
Yediot Aharonot reported that Peretz had problems with the words 'obligation' and 'gratitude.' When Peretz's office complained about the article, claiming that his English was fine, Yediot posted a clip from the speech on its Web site, so the world could hear Peretz's problems with the language.
Asked by an interviewer on Channel 2 TV about his English skills, Peretz said "my English is OK, I spoke to Bill and Hillary Clinton in English."
Peretz told the former president that he intended to raise the minimum wage just as Clinton did in order to ease the gap between rich and poor. Clinton responded that raising the minimum wage helped the American economy.
An American who came to Israel for the Rabin ceremonies and who heard Peretz speak on Sunday said that he didn't think Peretz was struggling with his English. He said that he has spoken to Peretz in English in the past and had never noticed any problems.
"The Israelis might have been uncomfortable, but the Americans didn't have a problem with his English," the American said. "Compared to Yitzhak Rabin's first speech in America when he was Israel's ambassador, Peretz was much more articulate. He speaks in English sentences that are longer than three words. That's more than the president of the United States."
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