By ALINA DAIN SHARON/Israel Hayom/JNS.org The state of Israel, as well as dignitaries and Jewish groups around the world, came together on Sept. 30 for the funeral service of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, who passed away on Sept. 28 two weeks after suffering a massive stroke. He was 93 years old.
Peres’ coffin was taken to Mount Herzl on Friday morning, arriving at the national cemetery at 8:30 a.m.
The official state service was held at 9:30 a.m., with some 5,000 people in attendance.
President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, former U.S. President Bill Clinton, author Amos Oz, and the late president’s three children, Tsvia, Yoni and Chemi spoke at the service. U.S. President Barack Obama was the last to pay tribute to the late Israeli president.
“He would have wanted us to thank you for your friendship to him, but even more for your friendship to our people. … [He said] the role of leaders today is to serve their people, and there is no greater privilege than that. He saw in all of you leaders, friends and partners in his quest for peace,” said Chemi Peres, the son of the late president, at the funeral service.
Israel’s ninth president was rushed to Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer on Sept. 13 after suffering a massive stroke that led to bleeding in his brain.
Tests performed over the past two weeks prompted doctors to give Peres a “cautiously optimistic” prognosis. On Tuesday, however, his condition took a dramatic turn for the worse. He passed away around 2 a.m. on Sep. 28.
Longest political career in Israel’s history
Born Szymon Perski on Aug. 2, 1923 in Vishneva, Poland, Peres immigrated with his family to then-British Palestine in 1934. In 1945, he married Sonia Gelman. In 1947, he joined the Hagana paramilitary organization, which would later become the IDF. In 1953, at just 29, he was named director general of the Defense Ministry, becoming the youngest person to ever hold the position. He was first elected to the Knesset in 1959, and would become the longest-serving Knesset member in Israeli history, including as prime minister from 1984 to 1986.
Former President Shimon Peres with then Prime Minister David Ben Gurion in 1962. Credit: The Israeli Government Press Office/Flash90.
In 1992, Peres was appointed foreign minister, allowing him to participate in secret negotiations that would lead to the 1993 Oslo Accords and earn Peres, along with former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat, the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize.
After Rabin’s assassination in 1995, Peres again served as prime minister and defense minister for several months until the 1996 elections. That same year, he formed the Peres Center for Peace to promote a better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, as well as Israeli Arabs.
Peres continued to serve in the Knesset in the late 1990s and in the 2000s. He later announced he was leaving Labor to support then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his new Kadima party. In 2007, Peres was elected Israel’s ninth president.
In 2008, Peres was ordained Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George by Queen Elizabeth II. In June 2012, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama, and in 2014, the U.S. House of Representatives awarded Peres the Congressional Gold Medal. Peres also authored 10 books.
Israeli messages of condolences
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett ordered schools nationwide to dedicate the first hour of Wednesday’s curriculum to Peres’ legacy.
In a statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu eulogized Peres and said he joins “the Israeli public, the Jewish people and many worldwide, bowing my head in memory of the nation’s beloved Shimon Peres.
“Shimon Peres’ name will be forever etched in the Jewish people’s book of revival, as one of the greatest leaders Israel has ever known, and one of the state of Israel’s founding fathers. May his memory be cherished in the nation’s heart.”
President Reuven Rivlin eulogized his predecessor, saying Peres was “young at heart and had an unwavering belief in the ability to achieve one’s goals.”
“There is not a chapter in the history of the state of Israel which Shimon did not write or play a part,” he said.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) issued a statement saying, “We bow our heads in respect for a great leader, champion of peace and beloved icon Shimon Peres. Blessed be his memory.”
Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak also called Peres “a giant,” while Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon and Consul General in New York Dani Dayan called Peres a “man of hope.”
Global Jewish reactions
International Jewish groups are also issuing their own condolences.
“Israeli-Americans join millions around the world in mourning and saluting one of the most beloved, visionary, and respected Israeli leaders in history,” said the Israeli American Council in a statement.
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder also said Peres was “one of the greatest human beings I have ever known.”
Jewish Agency for Israel Chairman Natan Sharansky said in a statement that “when I was released from captivity and arrived in Israel, he was the first Israeli I saw upon landing when he came as prime minister to greet me. I will always remember him as the individual who started the Israeli chapter of my life. I have always admired his devotion to his values and vision.”
The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) President and CEO Jerry Silverman said “Shimon Peres was North American Jewry’s greatest ally, advocate and friend in Israel.”
The National Jewish Democratic Council called Peres “a lifelong leader and trailblazer for the Jewish people and the state of Israel,” while the Republican Jewish Coalition called him “a man of vision and a good friend of the United States.”
American Jewish Committee (AJC) CEO David Harris, who met with Peres many times both in Israel and the U.S., said that “Peres had extraordinary energy, boundless optimism, and future-oriented vision, not only about the possibilities of peace and coexistence in the region, but also about the exciting pathways of new technologies for the benefit of humankind—from nano-science to mapping the brain.”
A global eulogy for Israel’s founding father
Peres’ funeral took place on Friday. He lay in state at the Knesset Plaza on Thursday, so the public could bid farewell to Israel’s most veteran statesman. The Israeli flag flew at half-mast at government buildings as well as Israeli diplomatic missions abroad.
Dozens of world leaders attended the funeral service. Among the leaders were Obama, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Clinton, French President Francois Hollande, Britain’s Prince Charles, former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German President Joachim Gauck and many others.
In a statement before the funeral, Obama called Peres “the essence of Israel itself.”
“A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever,” Obama said. “Shimon Peres was a soldier for Israel, for the Jewish people, for justice, for peace, and for the belief that we can be true to our best selves — to the very end of our time on earth, and in the legacy that we leave to others. For the gift of his friendship and the example of his leadership, todah rabah (thank you very much), Shimon.”
“I am sadder than words can express. This is a man who was a political giant, a statesman who will rank as one of the foremost of this era or any era, and someone I loved deeply,” said former British Prime Minister and Quartet envoy to the Middle East Tony Blair.
German President Joachim Gauck lauded Peres as a “model for peace.” Russian President Vladimir Putin in a message of condolence said, “I was lucky enough to have the chance to speak with this remarkable person many times. Every time I admired his courage and patriotism, his wisdom and vision, his ability to grasp the essence of the most difficult issues.”
“In many ways, he reminded me of some other giants of the 20th century that I’ve had the honor to meet — men like Nelson Mandela; women like Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth,” Obama also said during his funeral eulogy.
“Our father’s legacy has always been the future,” Peres’s son, Chemi, said. “Look to tomorrow, he taught us, build Israel’s future with courage and with wisdom and always continue to strive for peace. We were privileged to have been part of his private family. But today, we sense that the entire nation of Israel and the global community mourn this great loss. We share this pain, together.”
Hamas murdered their friend. Now, they help Israeli soldiers to keep his memory alive
By VIRGINIA ALLEN (The Daily Signal) David Newman sent a text to a friend the morning of Saturday, Oct. 7. Something terrible had happened. Word quickly spread among Newman’s group of friends, who had known each other since high school.
Newman, 25, had traveled the night before to the music festival in southern Israel, close to the border with the Gaza Strip. It was supposed to be a fun weekend with his girlfriend “celebrating life,” something Newman, who served with the Israel Defense Forces, was good at and loved to do, friend Gidon Hazony recalls.
When Hazony learned that Newman, his longtime friend, was in danger, he and another friend decided they were “going to go down and try and save him.” Trained as a medic and armed with a handgun and bulletproof vest, Hazony started driving south from Jerusalem.
Hazony and his friend ended up joining with other medical personnel and “treated probably around 50 soldiers and civilians in total that day,” Hazony recalls, but they kept trying to make it south to rescue Newman.
But the two “never made it down to the party, and that’s probably for the best,” Hazony says, “because that area was completely taken over by terrorists. And if we had gone down there, I think we would’ve been killed.”
Hazony later learned that Hamas terrorists had murdered Newman on Oct. 7, but not before Newman had saved nearly 300 lives, including the life of his girlfriend.
When the terrorists began their attack on the music festival, many attendees began running to their cars. But Newman and his girlfriend encountered a police officer who warned them to run the opposite direction because the terrorists were near the vehicles, says David Gani, another friend of Newman’s.
Newman “ran in the opposite direction with his girlfriend and whoever else he could kind of corral with him,” Gani explains during an interview on “The Daily Signal Podcast.”
“They saw two industrial garbage cans, big containers, and so David told everyone, ‘Hide, hide in those containers,’” Gani says. “And so what he did over the course of the next few hours is, he would take people and … he was this big guy, and he would just chuck them in that container. And then he would go in, wait, wait till the coast is clear, and then he’d go back out, find more people, put them in there.”
Newman’s actions that day, and the atrocities Hazony and so many others in Israel witnessed Oct. 7, led Hazony, Gani, and several friends to quit their jobs and set up a nonprofit called Soldiers Save Lives. The organization is working to collect tactical and humanitarian aid for the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF.
According to the group’s website, Soldiers Save Lives has supplied over 20 IDF units and civilian response teams “with protective and self-defense gear.”
Gani, board chairman, chief financial officer, and chief technology officer of Soldiers Save Lives, and Hazony, president of the organization, recently traveled to Washington, D.C., to raise support and awareness for their mission to provide IDF troops with needed supplies.
If you would like to find out more about Soldiers Save Lives or donate to them, go to https://www.soldierssavelives.org/
Reprinted with permission.
Our New Jewish Reality
By HENRY SREBRNIK Since Oct. 7, we Jews have been witnessing an ongoing political and psychological pogrom. True, there have been no deaths (so far), but we’ve seen the very real threat of mobs advocating violence and extensive property damage of Jewish-owned businesses, and all this with little forceful reaction from the authorities.
The very day after the carnage, Canadians awoke to the news that the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust had inspired sustained celebrations in its major cities. And they have continued ever since. I’d go so far as to say the Trudeau government has, objectively, been more interested in preventing harm to Gazans than caring about the atrocities against Israelis and their state.
For diaspora Jews, the attacks of Oct. 7 were not distant overseas events and in this country since then they have inspired anti-Semitism, pure and simple, which any Jew can recognize. Even though it happened in Israel, it brought back the centuries-old memories of defenseless Jews being slaughtered in a vicious pogrom by wild anti-Semites.
I think this has shocked, deeply, most Jews, even those completely “secular” and not all that interested in Judaism, Israel or “Zionism.” Jewish parents, especially, now fear for their children in schools and universities. The statements universities are making to Jewish students across the country could not be clearer: We will not protect you, they all but scream. You’re on your own.
But all this has happened before, as we know from Jewish history. Long before Alfred Dreyfus and Theodor Herzl, the 1881 pogroms in tsarist Russia led to an awakening of proto-Zionist activity there, with an emphasis on the land of Israel. There were soon new Jewish settlements in Palestine.
The average Jew in Canada now knows that his or her friend at a university, his co-worker in an office, and the people he or she socializes with, may in fact approve, or at least not disapprove, of what happened that day in Israel. Acquaintances or even close friends may care far more about Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Such people may even believe what we may call “Hamas pogrom denial,” already being spread. Many people have now gone so far in accepting the demonization of Israel and Jews that they see no penalty attached to public expressions of Jew-hatred. Indeed, many academics scream their hatred of Israel and Jews as loud as possible.
One example: On Nov. 10, Toronto officers responded to a call at an Indigo bookstore located in the downtown. It had been defaced with red paint splashed on its windows and the sidewalk, and posters plastered to its windows.
The eleven suspects later arrested claimed that Indigo founder Heather Reisman (who is Jewish) was “funding genocide” because of her financial support of the HESEG Foundation for Lone Soldiers, which provides scholarships to foreign nationals who study in Israel after serving in the Israeli armed forces. By this logic, then, most Jewish properties and organizations could be targeted, since the vast majority of Jews are solidly on Israel’s side.
Were these vandals right-wing thugs or people recently arrived from the Middle East? No, those charged were mostly white middle-class professionals. Among them are figures from academia, the legal community, and the public education sector. Four are academics connected to York University (one of them a former chair of the Sociology Department) and a fifth at the University of Toronto; two are elementary school teachers; another a paralegal at a law firm.
Were their students and colleagues dismayed by this behaviour? On the contrary. Some faculty members, staff and students at the university staged a rally in their support. These revelations have triggered discussions about the role and responsibilities of educators, given their influential positions in society.
You’ve heard the term “quiet quitting.” I think many Jews will withdraw from various clubs and organizations and we will begin to see, in a sense like in the 1930s, a reversal of assimilation, at least in the social sphere. (Of course none of this applies to Orthodox Jews, who already live this way.)
Women in various feminist organizations may form their own groups or join already existing Jewish women’s groups. There may be an increase in attendance in K-12 Jewish schools. In universities, “progressive” Jewish students will have to opt out of organizations whose members, including people they considered friends, have been marching to the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and similar eliminationist rhetoric, while waving Palestinian flags.
This will mostly affect Jews on the left, who may be supporters of organizations which have become carriers of anti-Semitism, though ostensibly dealing with “human rights,” “social justice,” and even “climate change.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg took part in a demonstration outside the Israeli Embassy in Stockholm on Oct. 22 in which she chanted “crush Zionism” along with hundreds of other anti-Israel protesters. Israel is now unthinkingly condemned as a genocidal apartheid settler-colonialist state, indeed, the single most malevolent country in the world and the root of all evil.
New York Times Columnist Bret Stephens expressed it well in his Nov. 7 article. “Knowing who our friends aren’t isn’t pleasant, particularly after so many Jews have sought to be personal friends and political allies to people and movements that, as we grieved, turned their backs on us. But it’s also clarifying.”
Henry Srebrnik is a professor of political science at the University of Prince Edward Island in Charlottetown.
Former Winnipegger Vivian Silver, at first thought to have been taken hostage, has now been confirmed dead
Former Winnipegger and well-known Israeli peace activist Vivian Silver has now been confirmed as having been killed during the massacre of Israelis and foreign nationals perpetrated by Hamas terrorists on October 7. Vivian, a resident of Kibbutz Be’eri was originally thought to be among the more than 1200 individuals who were taken hostage by Hamas.
To read the full story on the CBC website, go to https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/israel-gaza-vivian-silver-1.7027333