Photo: Gil Yohanan
'President Peres still has the curiosity of a child facing the world excitedly'
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Shimon Shiffer

Thank you, Shimon Peres

Op-ed: After 70 years of public service, it's time to acknowledge that our president has made a crucial contribution to Israel's strength.

I have decided to dedicate this opinion piece to Shimon Peres, and not because he is already packing his bags at the President's Residence and talking about the next chapters of his life (in his case it wouldn't be too wild a guess to assume that he will go on to fulfill some dreams). I wanted to get away from the socially acceptable habit of saying good things after a person's death and only criticizing him during his life.



So you won't read a single word here about his sense of victimization, about the feeling that he had been persecuted all his life and that his critics chose to ignore his role in almost every national initiative he helped establish. Nor will there be a single word about his grandiose birthdays. And of course, we will not be putting alongside him beside the candidates vying to replace him. Peres doesn’t need to be compared to those seeking to inherit him – he is in a league of his own.


After 70 years of public service, stitched tightly into the fabric of this land, it can only be determined that Peres has made a crucial contribution to the strengthening of Israel's might.


There are three main characteristics that sum up the man: First, the curiosity of a child excitedly exploring the world, a trait that he has not abandoned over the years. He is still attentive to every idea, to every scientific development, tirelessly trying to learn.


He was the first person to talk to me about nanotechnology. Heads of state have left meetings with him filled with admiration for his knowledge and deep understanding of what is taking place in their own countries.


Second is his power of observation. Peres – and I have witnessed this first hand in conversations throughout the years – views reality with a desire to understand historical processes and at the same time try to comprehend how leaders facing the crossroads of fateful decisions can influence of the course of history.


The years in which he was privy to insider information and intelligence assessments have made him skeptical. There is one sentence that best represents his outlook on this issue: "Two Arabs talk amongst themselves and one Jew listen to them, and then he bases the national intelligence assessment on that."


Third is his performance and decision-making abilities. Throughout the years in which he was in charge of implementing policies and the ideas of leaders such as David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon, Peres was performed perfectly.


Nonetheless, there isn't a more charged issue when it comes to Peres than the discussion about the agreement between us and the Palestinians. His critics and supporters disagree on this issue, taking out all their bitterness on Peres - the father of the settlements, the Oslo war criminal, a peace-seeker and a hopeless deceiver.


If we are to put anger aside for another occasion, I hope we can agree that Peres was wise enough, as Moshe Dayan said, not to stick to one opinion, as "only donkeys don't change their minds." He would reconsider, examine reality and pursue an agreement. He was and remains a public servant who wants Israel to be accepted in the region as a legitimate entity, as a pioneering state that doesn’t only live by the sword.


We, including myself, have sometimes criticized him wildly, and despite what he says – he was very hurt. I remember one conversation in which he told me off for almost 50 minutes, while reading from a text he had prepared in advanced. I was silent and then I said, "I am not here to argue." He looked at me and said: "Fine, so let's start talking about the situation."


So before he starts packing up to quit the presidential residence, I would like to say: Thank you Shimon Peres - with all of my heart. 


פרסום ראשון: 05.07.14, 16:13
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