Shimon Peres 311.
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Before he took office as president, Shimon Peres celebrated his birthday on
After he became president, he decided his birthday was August
That date now appears on the Knesset website, Wikipedia, A n s w e r s
. C o m Famouswhy.com and a host of other websites. Astro Data Bank still goes
with August 16 while Wilson’s Almanac and Zionism&Israel list August 21 as
The Foreign Ministry website, which has biographies of all
the presidents of Israel plays it safe, and just gives the years of their
births, and not the actual dates.
Despite the fact that many official
websites list his birthday as August 2, he decided to delay the celebration by
two weeks, and his office put out an announcement on Monday, stating that his
88th birthday was on August 16.
Accordingly, when he met on Tuesday
morning with Gen. Chen Bingde, the chief of General Staff of the Chinese
army, Bingde and almost every member of his delegation in their individual
introductions to Peres wished him a happy birthday.
Before that meeting
Peres met privately with Israel’s Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz,
who not only updated him on Israel’s security situation but also presented him
with a surprise gift, a 1953 photograph of the General Staff at a meeting with
Israel’s second president Yitzhak Ben-Zvi.
Peres, who was then
director-general of the Defense Ministry, is also in the photograph standing
alongside David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister and defense minister. Gantz added
a much more recent photograph of Peres taken in his current capacity with Gantz
and members of the Egoz unit during the president’s visit to the Northern
Command last March.
Peres was extremely moved to receive both
photographs, which had been taken 58 years apart. Gantz, who is 52, commented
that he had not even been born when the first photograph was taken, which was
indicative of the many years Peres has spent in service to the
Despite the more upbeat than usual atmosphere Peres had already
received birthday greetings for August 16 well before the date from Steny Hoyer,
the Democratic Whip of the US House of Representatives, who last week brought a
Congressional delegation to the President’s Residence, wished him happy birthday
and made a point of mentioning the birthday was on August 16.
to the president’s schedule, his birthday was festively celebrated on Tuesday
night in conjunction with the 110th anniversary celebrations of Kfar Tavor,
where a choir of 100 children had been assembled to sing happy birthday to him
and to present him with a cake.
8 is the symbol of infinity. If the
President is 88, it’s double infinity, which means that like in Alfred Lord
Tennyson’s The Brook, men may come and men may go, but he’ll go on
There are some people who are already discussing the possibility
of reversing the law related to the period in which a person can serve as
president to what it had been previously.
Up until the time of Chaim
Herzog, Israel’s sixth president, it was possible for a president to serve two
fiveyear terms, which is what Herzog did.
When Ezer Weizman, who
succeeded Herzog, was forced to step down in his seventh year, which was in fact
the second year of his second term, the law was changed. As it happened,
Weizman’s successor, Moshe Katsav, was also forced to leave office ahead of time
– but only by a few months.
Peres, on the other hand, who was not the
most popular of politicians has flourished in his current role and is recognized
far and wide as Israel’s most respected statesman.
In addition, he is
greatly admired abroad for his tireless efforts to make peace with the
Palestinians and the surrounding Arab states.
Thus, there are many who
say that for as long as he has his health and his stamina, and for as long as
his mind is sound, it may be of great benefit to Israel to keep him in office
for ten years instead of seven. He’s already served four years, one month and