The Israeli presidency and a misguided Left

We can only expect adherents of the Left to lament and denounce Reuven Rivlin’s promotion of right-wing policies that supposedly endanger their interpretation of “democracy.”

Former president Shimon Peres. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Former president Shimon Peres.
An article recently appearing in these pages (“A quiet revolution in the Israeli president’s office,” August 11) waxed poetical about former president Shimon Peres’ interference in governmental affairs during his recently-completed tenure.
Peres, the author writes in praise, “never allowed himself to be constrained by anyone or by any position. True to form, Peres did not fit the mold of a conventional president.
He transformed this largely obscure, ceremonial institution into a highly visible and relevant post that became a vehicle for advancing his policy goals.... Peres took it upon himself to put the brakes on some of [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu’s more aggressive plans and worked behind the scenes to pursue policies that were not supported by the government but which he felt were vital to Israel’s interests. At times, he even intervened in Israeli domestic affairs.”
One can only wonder whether the author would be equally enamored had Peres been the sitting prime minister and Netanyahu the one who had “expanded the limits of his post to push his forward-looking agenda.”
The article is important because it exposes the Left’s blatant hypocrisy.
While its adherents cloak their subversive actions in democratic terminology, their aims are rarely altruistic, nor about the will of the people, human rights or any other cause du jour; rather, the objective is the consolidation of power, and as necessary the wielding and abuse thereof, in order to advance a set of ideological goals, irrespective of whether said policies are advocated by the government or supported by the majority of the electorate.
This is not something to be hailed, but rather feared, as it constitutes the true threat to Israeli democracy.
This dynamic accounts for why right-wing Israeli governments continue to be elected, only to end up implementing the Left’s policies.
The agenda of people like Peres is aided and abetted by like-minded individuals in positions of influence. Together they actively collude to undermine the government, especially by working through external media to set the boundaries of public discourse, which, in turn, restricts the government’s range of policy options.
For his part, Peres has a long history of subversive behavior, the most glaring example being the Oslo Accords, perhaps Israel’s worst-ever strategic blunder, the ramifications of which were on full display during Operation Protective Edge.
As foreign minister, Peres spearheaded, in the early 1990s, back-channel negotiations, in conjunction with unelected officials such as Yossi Beilin, with the PLO (then designated as a terror group) behind the back of then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
It did not matter that the PLO ’s murderous leader, Yasser Arafat, had launched countless attacks against Israeli civilians over the previous three decades. Nor was Peres dissuaded by the fact that, because of Arafat’s destabilizing terror campaign, he had been banished first by Jordan and then by Lebanon, forcing him into obscurity in Tunis.
Instead, Peres chose to defy reality, effectively resurrecting a murderous madman and his Judeocidal organization by agreeing to hand over to him, on a silver platter, Israel’s biblical heartland, located mere tens of kilometers away from the country’s major civilian centers. Peres then presented as a fait accompli to Rabin the outlines of said “peace” initiative, in the name of which thousands of Israelis have subsequently been maimed and murdered.
The Left provided near-universal cover for Peres’ actions, tantamount (in this writer’s opinion) to outright sedition.
But despite his deadly obsession with Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking, Peres’ lasting legacy will be Iran’s likely nuclearization.
As widely reported by Israeli media earlier this year, from 2010-2012 the government on numerous occasions considered launching a pre-emptive attack on the Islamic Republic’s atomic facilities. As the article in question highlights, however, “despite Netanyahu’s and Barak’s entreaties to Peres that he remain silent on the matter, he refused and publicly warned against a strike in the absence of coordination with the United States, effectively quashing the government’s plans.”
Peres reportedly went so far as to recruit the support of top-ranking, unelected military and intelligence brass, who refused a governmental order to prepare for a possible strike.
Corroborated by many sources, Peres is thus uniquely responsible for preventing the attempted neutralization of an existential threat when the matter could, realistically, still have been be dealt with militarily, and at a time when a response could have been mitigated given that Teheran, and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah, were bogged down in the fighting in Syria.
This past October, Haaretz’s Ari Shavit wrote of the episode: “Today, it is clear that this victory by the president over the prime minister, defense minister and foreign minister also came at a heavy price. A year after the Israeli military option was taken off the international table, Iran has 19,000 centrifuges that enable it to achieve nuclear breakout very quickly.... After the Israeli military option was nullified, Iran is becoming a legitimate regional power... [and is] about to become a nuclear threshold state.”
Overall, Israelis should, in fact, be hopeful that a revolution – a counter-revolution – is taking place in the Israeli president’s office, one which will restore what should be the apolitical nature of the position, and that was before an overly-ambitious nonagenarian manipulated the role to push through his increasingly unpopular agenda.
Otherwise, we can only expect adherents of the Left to lament and denounce Reuven Rivlin’s promotion of right-wing policies that supposedly endanger their interpretation of “democracy.”
The author is a correspondent for i24News, an international television network which broadcasts out of Israel.