Happy birthday, Mr. President – whenever

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 forever.

Shimon Peres 311 (photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Shimon Peres 311
(photo credit: Mark Neiman/GPO)
Before he took office as president, Shimon Peres celebrated his birthday on August 16.
After he became president, he decided his birthday was August 2.
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 his birthday.
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 state.
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.
According 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 forever.
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 two days.