Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shimon Peres, 1923-2016

 Shimon Peres in Brazil (cropped 2).jpg
 (By Elza Fiúza - Agência Brasil (Department of Press and Media).  Courtesy of WikiCommons)

Shimon Peres, one of the original founding fathers of Israel died yesterday at 93 after a massive stroke. For many Israelis, he was the final link between the founders who created the miracle of Israel and the present day.

There's a lot that could be said about Shimon Peres. He was a key aide of Ben-Gurion's and played a major part in wheeling and dealing to get the Haganah arms during Israel's War of Independence in1948, when the world, after recognizing Israel as a state pretty much turned their back on the Jews in the face of Arab jihad less than three years after Auschwitz was liberated. While the Arabs received modern arms and in the case of Jordan, trained officers from Britain to lead to lead the Arabs in their planned annihilation of the Jews of Israel, most nations placed an arms embargo on the nascent Jewish State in the name of 'neutrality' including the United States.

Peres found enough ways around that (with the assistance of a number of sympathetic souls around the globe, some of whose names would surprise you) to get enough arms and ammo into Israel so that with G-d's help Israel survived.

It's never ceased to amuse me that the first major shipment of arms to Israel were Nazi arms manufactured in Czechoslovakia that Peres bought on the black market.

There is plenty more you can read elsewhere about his career. A socialist kibbutznik (he helped found Kibbutz Alumot) he remained a man of the left his entire life. He served time in Israel's government as defense minister, where he was instrumental in establishing close relations with France that led to massive arms deals to help Israel keep its edge over the enemies that surrounded it. The French thought so highly of Peres that they awarded him the Legion D' Honor.

He served as Prime Minister twice, but was never actually elected, leading to one of those wonderfully acerbic Israeli political jokes I needn't mention here. Eventually, he served as Israel's President, a largely ceremonial role that he performed with distinction.

Yes, there are other things that could be said about Shimon Peres that aren't so complimentary, and I think a lot of Israelis know exactly what I'm talking about.

But this isn't the time or place for that, not today. Today, we honor one of Israel's pioneers, a man who helped create a nation for the Jewish People.

Rest in peace Shimon (Z"L). And may your memory be blessed for the good you accomplished.

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