President’s younger brother Gershon Peres dies at age 85

"Gigi" passes away following a serious illness, leaving the president bereaved for the second time in less than a year.

gershon peres 311 (photo credit: Shimon Peres Archives)
gershon peres 311
(photo credit: Shimon Peres Archives)
Businessman Gershon Peres, better known as Gigi, died on Tuesday at Ichilov hospital in Tel Aviv, following a serious illness.
Peres, 85, was the younger brother of President Shimon Peres who has been bereaved for the second time in less than a year. The president’s wife Sonia died in January of this year.
Gigi Peres was not as diplomatic as his older brother and was known to be something of a hot head, especially when he believed that his brother had been unfairly treated.
He launched a scathing attack against Labor Party MK Amir Peretz, when the latter defeated Shimon Peres and took over the Labor leadership after Peres had brought him back into the party.
In fact the enraged Gigi Peres allowed his tongue to get away from him to such an extent that many people in the Labor Party declared him to be a racist. Although Labor has tried to put the racist genie back in the bottle, it has surfaced again during Peretz’s current bid for the Labor leadership.
Shimon Peres distanced himself from his brother’s remarks, though there was a large scale belief that he had actually been behind them.
Eventually Gigi apologized and both brothers left the Labor Party, which had been their political home for so long.
The two brothers were not only different in temperament, but also in style. Whereas Shimon Peres walks with a gentlemanly gait, Gigi used to swagger.
One of the most difficult periods in their relationship was in 1992, when Gigi’s son Uziel, a writer, film director and producer, was killed when the Thai Airways International Airbus in which he was traveling crashed in a hillside in Nepal as it was trying to make a bad weather landing in Katmandu.
As is generally the case when Israeli citizens are caught up in any tragedy abroad, the Foreign Ministry kept a close eye on the situation and once it was established that Uzi Peres had been one of the victims of the crash, then foreign minister Shimon Peres took it upon himself to inform his brother and sister-in-law Carmella.
The Peres family, together with the Israel Film and Television Directors Association, subsequently established an annual prize in the name of Uzi Peres awarded in conjunction with the Tel Aviv Cinematheque to the director of an outstanding short film.
Gigi and Carmella Peres remained closely connected to Uzi’s wife Bracha and her children Sara, David and Michael.
Gigi Peres will be laid to rest at 4 p.m. on Wednesday at the Kiryat Shaul cemetery in Tel Aviv.
After learning of his brother’s passing, President Peres canceled all of his appointments for this week. Five ambassadors designate who were due to present their credentials on Wednesday morning will now have to wait for another date.
Peres was also scheduled to attend an operatic performance of Kaddish in the Warsaw Ghetto Plaza at Yad Vashem on Thursday night, but in view of the circumstances will not be there.
His office was unable to say whether he would go ahead with appointments that had been scheduled for next week.