Peres steps out of line on Iran

Matti Golan

Even though Shimon Peres built Israel's defense infrastructure, as President he is not entitled to express opinions on controversial topics.

The dispute over the rights and obligations of Israel's president is not new. Just as Shimon Peres is certainly not the first, let alone the only president to speak out over controversial political issues during his term in office, the public and media's response to the remarks has not changed either, and that is the saddest thing in this affair. They don't discuss whether the president is allowed to express himself according to the letter of the law and the principles of proper governance, but about the content of his remarks. In other words, if the president says things that support my position, Left or Right, then it is permissible, and even obligatory, for him to speak.

No one should think that I do not like Peres. I have written two biographies commissioned by British publisher Weidenfeld & Nicolson (I write this to make it clear that these were not PR publications). I see Peres as a man who has contributed the most to Israel's security, when against all the odds he brought to Israel the nuclear reactors, and despite the opposition of most of the government at the time (Prime Minister David Ben Gurion was, naturally, an enthusiastic supporter).

These reactors are the best effective deterrent against those who want to destroy us. Without them, it is doubtful whether Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his ilk would merely make threats; they would act. When talking about Peres, from whatever angle, this must also be remembered, as well as Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1), Israel Military Industries Ltd. (IMI), and the building of Israel's defense establishment, which is the infrastructure of the IDF.

People have trouble doing two things at the same time: to both dislike and to remember the good things. There are people who consider Peres as a worthless dealmaker they are many. I find it proper to tell them, and to the Israeli public in general, to think twice before criticizing this man. He has made mistakes in his life, but they are dwarfed, even vanish, in the face of the fact that his life work, especially in defense, guarantee Israel's existence.

Well I say to Peres: Mr. President, it was improper to say that Israel should not attack Iran without US support. You do not really know all the details, and you do not bear the responsibility for the results. You will also allow less worthy presidents to exploit the presidency to take positions and influence. And say to you (and to former President Yitzhak Navon), the more important a topic is, so discussion has to be by the people elected to run the country. And you were not elected to do so. I personally, and for the nation, greatly regretted that but the majority thought otherwise. And because the majority didn't want you managing matters this time, you are today President. You very much wanted the job and knew its privileges and its limitations. What you are doing now is to behave as if you are prime minister, even though the public did not want you in the job. It is not good for you, and not healthy for democracy.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 19, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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