Shimon Peres, – president, prime minister and what not, of Israel, passed away last Wednesday after suffering a stroke.
Peres, a veteran on the Israeli political scene since it began to exist, has left his mark in almost every aspect of life in modern day Israel.
To his credit are the Israeli nuclear program, the victory of the six-day war, and the rescue mission in Entebbe, among other successful projects which made it public. For obvious reasons, many others will have to remain in the classified archives of the Mossad and other security agencies in Israel for now.
Like all human beings, Shimon Peres was far from being perfect. His name is tied to a few unfortunate chapters in the recent history of our nation, the Oslo accords being perhaps the worst of them all.
In accordance with Jewish tradition, after one’s passing, we focus only his virtues. But even Mr. Peres’s mistakes, I believe, were done with good intentions.
I don’t think Shimon Peres brought back Yasser Arafat and his henchmen from Tunisia because he wanted to see close to 2,000 innocent Jewish lives murdered in cold blood. He earnestly wanted peace. But a bit of naivety, a bit of arrogance and a bit of political shtick obscured his better judgment.
Things may have looked better If he would have been humble enough to live by a sentence his very own mouth uttered over two decades before the signing of the unfortunate agreement, turning terrorists into statesmen for the first time in history.
After one of his meetings with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Mr. Peres shared his impressions about the man he just spoke to. He is reported to have said, “he is the smartest man I’ve met, but in matters of faith he believes like a Bubbie.”
In the last few centuries, faith and logic are often portrayed as foes in a constant battle. This depiction is shared both by men of faith and men of logic. The faith people see logical free-thinking as a potential deterrent to faith and thus call for a minimal use of logic in faith-related matters, while the people of logic see faith and religious dogma as shackles and chains preventing logic from reaching its own “objective” conclusions.
But men of pure faith and men of pure logic don’t see it this way. Men of pure logic realize its constraints and understand that where logic ends, faith is to begin. Men of pure faith are so sure of the truth they believe in, that they see logic as yet another area that could benefit from the gifts of faith.
An objective study of the first decades of the recent history of the Jewish people in their land shows what the late Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion said: “Belief in miracles is the only logical explanation for the survival of the Jews in Israel.”
These unexplainable miracles won us the 1948 war and the refusal of the Arabs to accept the partition plan; they explain the surprising Russian vote in the UN supporting the Israeli declaration; they explain the miraculous victory of the Six-Day War which more than doubled the geographical area of the young state with valuable financial assets, as well as with a sorely needed “security belt.”
And it was nothing less than a chain of miracles that ensured one thing which has changed the Middle-Eastern dynamics forever: the Israeli nuclear program.
To be precise, it wasn’t just miracles. There was definitely some Jewish ingenuity involved to one extent or the other. But ingenuity alone wouldn’t do it. It was a perfect balance of faith and reason, of wise people using generously granted Divine help.
When Shimon Peres was dispatched to France to obtain a nuclear reactor from the French government, G-d’s hands led him to the right people at the right time. Well, almost at the right time.
Right after the minister of the exterior signed the top-secret agreement, all that was needed to approve the deal was the signature of the French Prime minister, Maurice Bourgès-Maunoury. The problem was that that very night, Bourgès-Maunoury’s government was dissolved and despite his friendship to the Jewish cause, he remained powerless.
But Shimon Peres wasn’t deterred; he came up with a plan that was as daring as it was crazy: he offered the former Prime-Minister to date the top-secret document one day earlier.
Miraculously, Bourgès-Maunoury agreed and the rest is history.
Several decades later, Peres, with the very same bold and cunning tactics presented the Jewish People with the Oslo accords which brought the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat and his vicious henchmen back to the heart of Israel.
Was Peres oblivious to who Arafat was? I don’t think so; he probably knew him better than others.
What I suggest that happened is that these men whose early public life was laden with miraculous events got tired of living by miracles. Shimon Peres, like many others, saw the “Palestinian problem” as a threat to the Jewish state and tried to find a natural, logical solution.
They came up with this flimsy excuse for “peace,” not even worth the piece of paper it was written on, which instead brought upon us blood and terror to this day. Did they think it was a good solution? Probably not; did they think it was better than no solution? Probably yes.
What Mr. Peres should have learned from the Rebbe is that we have another factor to consider when we use our intellect to carve out plans to help protect our people from their enemies: we can believe like Bubbies; our faith in G-d has never failed us.
The Palestinian problem is indeed not an easy one to solve, but in trying to solve it we can let the faith of our Bubbies in the G-d of our fathers lead the way in rejecting “peace” treaties with people committed to destroying us.
Other nations, who don’t have Bubbies like we do, must act with reason only. For them, a bad solution is better than no solution.
We, however, have Bubbies who can teach us about faith. When reason has faith on its team of problem-solving, it doesn’t have to compromise: “a perfect solution or no solution.” We have G-d on our side: He got us a nuclear reactor; he can also get us peace, true peace.
While Peres was laid to rest 93 years after he was born, his Oslo accords and the euphoria they created in the hearts of many Jews just seeking to live in peace in the Middle East, died soon after they were signed, claiming the lives of thousand of innocent Jews along with them.
Ironically, however, while the accords are dead for many years now, there are still those who in astonishing stubbornness (clearly a Jewish trait…) refuse to allow them to be buried in the dark pages of our history and try to revive them from time to time.
Shimon Peres was laid to rest on the same Jewish date the Oslo accords were signed; perhaps this is an indication that it’s high-time to try some other way of peace making, which doesn’t follow to failing recipe of negotiating with terrorists who, as Golda Meir said, “hate us more than they love their own children”.