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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The leaders of the Labor Party will be making a major contribution to Israel's future if they manage to convince Amir Peretz at the last minute not to accept the defense portfolio.
If Peretz believes that his appointment as defense minister will pave his way to the premiership, he is mistaken. It will destroy him. But that is his own private affair.
What is much more serious is that Israel's national security interests will be damaged as a result of Peretz's appointment. He has no experience, no conception and no skills that qualify him to stand at the head of the huge and complex security establishment that safeguards our lives. Peretz's very willingness to take on this job proves that he understands nothing about it. The silence of the lambs of the other leaders of the Labor Party, those who have not gotten up to tell him "You are not the man for this job," proves that the only thing that interests them is their share in the government, at any price.
If Peretz were to become finance minister, as he claimed he wanted in his vapid "social-welfare" campaign slogans, the damage might be limited to the financial. Even then, it would be restricted, because even as finance minister, Peretz would not be able to do whatever he pleased with the national budget. It is already becoming clear that his campaign mantra regarding the $1,000 minimum wage is no more than a joke.
BUT AS for the questions of life and death that a defense minister must deal with day and night, Peretz is willing to take on the job without hesitation.
In other words, Peretz is viewed as unfit to handle the billions that come and go in Israel's national treasury, but fully qualified to defend Jewish lives that have no price. And this is at a time when a bitter war is being waged against a Palestinian terror offensive that can only be expected to further escalate.
Last Monday, after the Pessah massacre at the old bus station in Tel Aviv, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told me: "Since the beginning of the year, the Palestinian terror effort has been on an upsurge. We have thwarted 88 attempts by suicide terrorists so far this year, in other words, an average of about one per day. In 2005, we stopped about 4,000 terrorists."
And we have still not yet talked about the terror of the Kassam rockets from the Gaza Strip, the Iranian nuclear threat and the enormous danger posed by the huge army that Egypt has built up, notwithstanding its peace agreement with Israel.
Israel's blood-drenched wars with the Arabs have been the result of mistaken assessments. In 1967, the Israeli leadership together with the media focused on a "social-welfare agenda" - because Israel was in the throes of an economic recession at the time. All attention was devoted to this problem. And then Egypt surprised Israel when it concentrated all its forces in Sinai - leading to the Six Day War.
Prior to the Yom Kippur War the government felt smug and complacent as it celebrated Israel's 25th anniversary. So despite a brilliant Minister of Defense in Moshe Dayan, we were caught by surprise because our attentions were elsewhere.
In 2000, the politicians and the media once again misled the nation into thinking that then prime minister Ehud Barak would soon be bringing home an "end-to-the-conflict" commitment from Yasser Arafat at Camp David. But Arafat was preparing a terrorist onslaught that completely surprised Israel, one that continues to this day, shaking the very foundations of the Jewish state.
THE APPOINTMENT of Amir Peretz as defense minister, when he has no real experience in this area, proves that he and his colleagues have learned nothing from Israel's blood-drenched history, much of which was due to the criminal negligence of leaders who fell asleep on the job.
Only someone who believes that Israel will soon become another Switzerland or Holland can afford to relate to the appointment of Amir Peretz as defense minister with equanimity.
Only an Israeli media filled with ignoramuses or sycophants could welcome the parachuting of a political-social demagogue into the inner sanctum of Israel's national security. Only someone who is intellectually blind does not understand that appointing Peretz as defense minister could contribute to Israel being surprised with a war, as has happened in the past.
Give Peretz the entire national treasury, including the mega-salaries of the robber-baron bankers, just don't place our national security - that is, our lives, in fact the very future of the Jewish state - in his hands.
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