On June 10, the Knesset will elect President Shimon Peres’s successor. As he departs the President’s Residence at the end of June, the media will provide saturation coverage of his final days and tell us over and over that Peres is the greatest statesman in Jewish history. His personal gravitas is Israel’s single most important asset in the world, they will say as they warn of our bleak future without him.
The upcoming Peres-is-a-Superhero festival will just be the latest of the narcissistic, tasteless celebrations of this man, always choreographed expertly by Peres and his retinue of media groupies.
Like his 80th and 85th birthdays, Peres’s 90th birthday celebration went on for a month. As the serving president, his last two monthlong benders cost the taxpayers millions of shekels and broke the budget of the President’s Residence.
All were replete with international celebrity guests like Nelson Mandela, Bono and Bill Clinton whom the press drooled over.
Hyperventilating reporters paused between drinks to mournfully note that after Peres leaves office, the parties will end and the A-listers will stop visiting.
And that’s the problem with Peres’s showboating. It’s always been all about him, never about us.
Peres’s popularity among the jet-setters never translates into international support for the State of Israel. Israel is but a prop for him – a means of securing the continued support of the beautiful people.
Actually, it’s worse than that. Peres’s international popularity has always grown in indirect proportion to Israel’s. The more Hollywood stars he adds to his collection, the worse Israel’s international isolation.
This makes sense. Ever since Peres became the architect of the phony peace process with the PLO in 1993, the world outside has used its embrace of him as a means of hiding its hostility to Israel.
Governments that adopt anti-Israel positions, and individuals who condemn us regularly, use Peres, whom they lionize as Israel’s “elder statesman,” to falsely represent their hostile behavior as proof of friendship.
Hence the likes of Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Kofi Annan could show up at Peres’s birthday parties, get their pictures taken with him, and then turn around and bash Israel as the chief obstruction to peace in the Middle East.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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