A photograph comemmorating former president Shimon Peres, who died on September 28, 2016.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Shimon Peres’s death is a profound loss for Israel and the world. He internalized enduring truths that historically have been central to Zionism. He saw the key to Zionism was not waiting for others to guide its future. In the early days of the state, it meant building Israel’s defense apparatus including Dimona. It also meant shaping alliances with world powers, first France and then the US, just as Zionism had tried to attain in its earliest years with Turkey and Britain. His pursuit of peace with the Palestinians was also driven by his desire for Israel to retain its dual character at the core of Zionism as a democracy and nation state of the Jewish people. He was Israel’s Jean Monnet, the European who sought to use economic forces to bring together old enemies.
As such, he sought to impact the Middle East for the better.
Washington and the world may remember him as Israel’s elder statesman, but anybody who knew him knows that he retained a very active intellect and boundless energy in identifying and leading Israel’s direction. Historians will endlessly debate his achievements, but it can already be said that he was Israel’s quintessential Zionist.The author is a former US official in the Office of the Secretary of State (2013-2014), senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, former executive editor of
The Jerusalem Post and author of
Making Peace with the PLO: The Rabin Government’s Road to the Oslo Accord.