SHIMON PERES, 1923-2016: REQUIESCAT IN PACE
"Shimon Peres the Israeli leader and Nobel Prize-winning peacemaker who coined the phrase “the new Middle East”, has died at the age of 93 with the region still sadly reminiscent of the old one. One of Israel’s longest-serving public officials, Peres was prime minister, foreign minister and president at different times and played a role in the country’s history from before its founding. He will be best remembered as a father of the Oslo accords, the blueprint that was meant to create a Palestinian state. Peres’s vision of a brighter future for the region was shattered during his later years, when the Israeli-Palestinian peace process floundered amid the violence of the second Palestinian intifada; hopes for a two-state solution all but vanished. He grew increasingly disillusioned that the prospects for peace had slipped away under successive hardline governments led by Benjamin Netanyahu, the rightwing prime minister who defeated him and his Labour party at the polls in 1996 and went on to serve four terms in office. While remaining a voice for peace as Israel’s ninth president in 2007-14, his interventions on matters of war and peace in that ceremonial role were largely symbolic. As an elder of Israel’s postwar Ashkenazi liberal elite, he often seemed out of step with a demographically changing Israel as it came to display a right-leaning political plurality a citizenry sceptical about ever reaching a negotiated peace deal with the Palestinians".John Reed and Avi Machlis, "Shimon Peres, Israeli leader, 1923-2016". The Financial Times. 28 September 2016. In www.ft.com.
"Defence Minister Shimon Peres's rivalry with Rabin was to haunt the lives of both men for the nest two decades. Peres had been the architect of the 'French Connection,' which had generated the weapons that won the Six Day War in 1967. He was instrumental in the acquisition of development of many of the weapons on which his country still depends. He was also perhaps the most erudite of that generation of Israel's leaders. Yet preeminence always just eluded him. Peres's combination of driven ambition and abstract intellectualism was not in keeping with the style of the Israeli public and contributed to his defeat in no fewer than five elections, including contests for Prime Minister. Over the decades of their rivalry, Peres thinking on relations with Israel's neighbours followed the same trajectory as Rabin's from 'hawk' to at least 'almost dove'--with Peres leaning somewhat more to extremes. He had been more of a hawk than Rabin, and he was to wind up as more of a dove. The difference was that Peres was intuitive where Rabin was analytical, intellectual where Rabin was practical. Peres's training had been in France, and he shared the trait of French academics, who tend to believe that the formulation of an idea is equivalent to its realisation. In the end, this idealism provided the impetus for the Oslo accords with the PLO in 1993."Henry A. Kissinger. Years of Renewal. (New York, 1999), pp. 376. There is not much more to add to former American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's remarks about the late Shimon Peres. Peres is in certain respects one of the last of the Mohicans, in terms of being one of the few remaining voices of Israel's second generation of leaders. A generation which included of course Rabin. The generation which in effect won the Six-Day War and as it were subsequently 'lost' the peace which should have followed. Like Rabin, Peres fruitlessly toyed with various options in order to not deal with the Palestinians: the Jordanian option, the Egyptian option, the home-grown 'village league', West Bank, non-PLO option. All of course fruitless and all leading to a diplomatic cul de sac in the end. Finally, as the ultimate faute de mieux, first Peres then Rabin, via the Oslo route, negotiated with the PLO and for almost six-years it appeared that peace was truly at hand. For many different reasons, involving both the PLO and the then Israeli leadership the Oslo route ultimately failed. With Benjamin Netanyahu's electoral dominance since the January 2009 elections, in essence putting the entire peace process in a very cold hibernation. And in fact given the turmoil in the Near and Middle East since 2011, there has been no real pressure or for that matter reason for Netanyahu, et. al., to take the peace route. Unlike the generation of Rabin and Peres who were actively entertained by the idea of Israel 'joining' the Near and Middle East, the current Israeli leadership has no wish to join the area. Israel being almost completely removed from its surrounds economically speaking. Especially with the discovery of huge gas supplies off Israel's coastline. Of course this point of view might very well change. But, in the absence of the region recovering its equilibrium, there does not appear any particular reason why it should. Which from a historical perspective means that Peres quest for peace, and the form that this quest took can be said to have 'failed' historically speaking. Which from a Christian perspective, does not make any less impressive, Peres shift from a warmonger to a putative peacemaker. Or as our Lord said in the Sermon on the Mount: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God".