President concerned corruption damaging nation's democracy

Peres wishes the wisdom of Solomon on new magistrate's court judges.

Peres 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Peres 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
President Shimon Peres has frequently denied in interviews with The Jerusalem Post and other publications that Israel is a corrupt country, saying that if this were truly the case, it wouldn't be appointing committees to investigate allegations of corruption. While there are some corrupt people in Israel, he has acknowledged, it cannot be said - at least in his perception - that Israel is a corrupt country. But recently, even Peres has become concerned about corruption rocking the very foundations of Israel's democracy. At a swearing-in ceremony at Beit Hanassi on Tuesday for two new magistrate's court judges - Ilan Defris and Ilan Ben-David - Peres confessed that he was worried about the Jewish state's propensity for self-destruction. He had a feeling, he said, that there were attempts afoot to undermine the legal system's stability. The president said he had been shocked to hear from a respected attorney that Israel's legal system, like a lottery, was a matter of luck and not of justice, and that the task of a lawyer was to provide a convincing argument rather than to seek the truth. The attorney told him that truth was not the basis of law, and that the law was nothing more than camouflage for the lack of the true values of democracy. "It must be clear to all of us that without truth there is no justice," said Peres. In reviewing the status quo, Peres said, he was reminded of the Book of Kings and the verse in which God comes to Solomon in a dream soon after Solomon has been anointed, and asks what he should give him. Solomon's reply is: "Give your servant an understanding heart to judge your people, and the ability to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people?" Peres noted that God was pleased with the king's reply because Solomon had not asked for long life or riches or vengeance against his enemies, but for wisdom and an understanding heart in order to judge fairly. And thus the wish was granted. "Judges, more than anyone, need the wisdom of Solomon," said Peres as he counseled Defris and Ben-David not to allow material political or any other considerations to intrude on their search for truth and their ability to do justice. "You have a very heavy responsibility," he said.