World leaders from 70 different countries gathered this week to remember and pay respects to theninth president of Israel, Shimon Peres, who died Wednesday at 93. Peres lived in Israel for 82 years, and he served his country for more than 70 years, spanning the terms of 10 different U.S. presidents.
Not surprising, in his own speech on Friday, President Obama tried to recreate Peres after his own liberal progressive image, saying, “I could somehow see myself in his story and he could see himself in mine.”
The truth is a little more complicated than that, Mr. President.
Haaretz, Israel’s oldest daily newspaper, reported: “Peres longed for peace for Israel, but not for himself. He fought for peace every way he could, conventionally and unconventionally, with the armies at his disposal and with guerrilla tactics, in direct confrontations as well as psychological warfare. If Peres had seen peace in his time, he would have grown tired of it and moved on to something else, which he did in any case.”
Haaretz discussed Peres’ balance for leadership and diplomacy in this way: “Peres was a founder of the country’s defense establishment but also a pioneer of its search for peace. He fathered Israeli settlements in the territories but crafted the instruments of their potential demise. He was the first Israeli leader to treat Palestinian leaders as human beings, going out of his way to show respect and sometimes affection, but he was a Johnny-come-lately in supporting Palestinian statehood. As prime minister, he ordered Operation Grapes of Wrath, possibly for electoral reasons, and it was under his watch that the Israeli Army committed the Qana massacre in South Lebanon, in which over a hundred Palestinians were killed.”
In his own words, Peres reflected his strong optimism, compassion and yet pro-Israeli resolve:
“If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact – not to be solved, but to be coped with over time.”
“When you have two alternatives, the first thing you have to do is to look for the third that you didn’t think about, that doesn’t exist.”
“The Middle East is ailing. The malady stems from pervasive violence, shortages of food, water and educational opportunities, discrimination against women and – the most virulent cause of all – the absence of freedom.”
“My heart goes out to the brave citizens of Syria, who each day risk and even sacrifice their lives to achieve freedom from a murderous regime. We in Israel welcome the historic struggle to forge democratic, peace-loving governments in our region.”
“Israel doesn’t intend to introduce nuclear weapons, but if people are afraid that we have them, why not? It’s a deterrent.”
All of my life I have had a love for Israel. My mother raised my two brothers and me on Judeo-Christian values and beliefs. I even went on to film three of my action movies in Israel – “Delta Force” being my favorite. My wife, Gena, and I have also formed many great friendships there in the Holy Land.
It is absolutely remarkable to me that a piece of land so small – only roughly 263 miles long and 71 miles wide – has been at the center stage of Middle East politics and war for centuries, and its capital Jerusalem at the very heart of the debate and battles. (Here is a five-minute video historysummarizing 4,000 years of upheaval in that sacred city.)
But ISIS is still on the move, growing in power and hell-bent – along with Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran and other terrorist-sponsoring states – to overthrow Israel and Jerusalem. It’s no coincidence that Dabir, Syria – an ISIS stronghold after which it named its own magazine – is only 480 miles as the crow flies from Megiddo, Israel, where the Bible describes the apocalyptic war of Armageddontaking place. The scene is being set.
The U.S. recognized Israel as a sovereign state in 1948 and needs to recognize its capital as Jerusalem – something the Obama administration refuses to do. Like Shimon Peres, we – including our next president – must never quit striving for peace, but always maintain that Israel is our chief ally in the Middle East.
It’s not a coincidence that the first Sunday of October has been set aside as the annual Day of Prayer for the Peace of Jerusalem and that Sunday (Oct. 2) fell this year immediately after Shimon Peres’ passing.
As Psalm 122:6 records, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: May they prosper who love you.”