Peres: Israeli patience with rockets wearing thin

Speaking at Jewish Agency Assembly, president says if Hamas continues to endanger civilians, Israel will be forced to retaliate.

Peres 370 (Marc) (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Peres 370 (Marc)
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Israel's patience against rocket attacks was wearing thin, President Shimon Peres implied at the opening of the Jewish Agency Assembly in Jerusalem on Sunday, as he cautioned Hamas against further firing of rockets.
As he had at the opening of the Presidential Conference last week, Peres saluted the strength, the courage and the dedication of the residents of southern Israel in coping with the current barrage of rocket fire from Gaza.
"We can stop it and we will stop it," he said. Israel has thus far shown restraint said Peres, but warned Hamas that in shooting at Israeli mothers and children it is shooting at its own people, as an outcome which it will be unable to govern.
Israel would not like to see anyone in Gaza suffer "no mother no child" said Peres, but made clear that if Hamas continues to endanger Israeli mothers and children Israel will no choice other than to retaliate.
Turning his attention to the Jewish Agency, Peres suggested that the time had come for a name change, because the organization is not a travel agency or a business agency. "You have to choose a name that fits its spirit and its purpose," he told delegates, and suggested that from now on it be called The Jewish Assembly.
Peres devoted most of his address to reviewing the Presidential Conference and presented an addendum to the anecdote he had related last week about the first visit to Saudi Arabia by then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who had been told by King Feisal that he received him not as a Jew, but as a human being. Kissinger had replied: "Some of my best friends are human beings."
The second part of the story referred to Kissinger's media entourage which was largely made up of Jewish reporters who thought they might be denied entry. In fact they were permitted to enter and were given rooms in a luxury hotel where each found a gift from the King – a leather binder inside which was a copy of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Jewish organizations spend so much time and effort fighting anti-Semitism said Peres, that perhaps it was time to publish The Protocols of the Wisdom of Zion.
Peres pointed to the high ratio of Jewish Nobel laureates, plus the huge number of internationally recognized intellectuals who happen to be Jewish. The Chinese, he said, regard Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein and Henry Kissinger as the patriarchs of the Jewish People.
It was unbelievable he contended, that such a small people which had paid such a high price throughout history, could contribute so much to the world. It was his sincere wish, he said that the next generation of Jews would continue to do the same.
Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky also emphasized the importance of continuing the Jewish contribution to a world which currently faces two historical crises. The Arab world is not ready to continue without freedom, but has an identity he said, whereas Europe, which is devoted to a  multi-cultural world of freedom, wants a world without identity and without borders. In the middle is a tiny country called Israel which has had an ongoing debate on how to connect Jewish identity with a desire for freedom, namely how to have a state which is both Jewish and democratic, said Sharansky.
The main challenges he said, are assimilation which results in the shrinkage of the Jewish People and de-legitimization by Israel's enemies who try to weaken Israel's influence.
"In these two struggles, the Jewish People have no better choice of weapon than Israel to make their children proud Jews," said Sharansky. "There is no better defender of the Jewish People than Israel."
The main task of the Jewish Agency he said, is to bring as many Jewish people as possible to Israel and as much of Israel as possible to the Jewish people.
With regard to the latter, the Jewish Agency, despite severe budgetary cuts, has increased the number of its emissaries, and has emissaries in every US university in which are at least one thousand Jews. The strategy is to expand this program over the next ten years so that it is not restricted to the US, but becomes a global vehicle for defending Jews on campus and attracting them to Israel.