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Latest News in Israel 11-12th October

‘You paid a heavy price to save the lives of others’

Five months after they vowed to love each forever under the wedding canopy, Noy Yaakobi stood by her husband’s freshly covered grave with tears streaming down her face, and promised that death would not part them. “I do not know how the world will continue to revolve without you, but I promise to continue to love you until I die,” Yaakobi said.

As she spoke, she looked out at the thousands of mourners who crowded into a back corner of the Mt. Herzl cemetery, on a ledge that looked out over the Jerusalem hills.

Just the day before, she and her husband, Adv.-St.-Sgt.-Maj. Yosef Kirma, 29, had been looking forward to their future, and had dreamed of the children they would have together.

Those dreams ended on Sunday morning, when her husband was killed as he attempted to block the path of a Palestinian gunmen, who had injured five others and killed Levana Malichi, 60 near Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill.

It was not the first time Kirma was confronted with terrorism. Last year, he thwarted an attack on a Jerusalem nursery school. In December while on patrol in Jerusalem, Kirma saw a suspicious looking Palestinian man near the school. Kirma stopped him, searched him and discovered that he had a knife. During the investigation that followed the man confessed that he had planned to execute a terrorist attack. Kirma was later given a citation from the Jerusalem District Commander for his bravery.

But for Yaakobi, he was her long-time beloved, who always had her back and offered her a shoulder to lean on.

“You are my light and my heart,” Yaakobi said.

“They told me to write a blessing to you from my heart, but my heart is shattered into pieces,” she said. “You loved me unconditionally, more than I love myself. You helped me with everything,” Yaakobi said.

“You were beloved to everyone, you were their number one and my number one. I don’t know how to part from you,” Yaakobi said.

Yosef’s father, Uzi, spoke of his oldest son, who he also considered a friend.

“What will I do now?” he asked, as he spoke in a low, tearful voice. “How will I survive?” It was already clear to him, he said, that his son’s death had cut his life into two parts: the time before the day, and the time after.

Yosef’s mother-in-law, Orit Yaakobi, said that she had waited for over a decade for him to become a part of her family.

“I can’t believe that now I have to say goodbye,” she said. “Just last week, we spoke about your dreams for the future. This is not the dream that you meant. I’m asking God to wake us up from this nightmare,” she said.

His cousin, Shai Hassid, said, “I still feel that you are about to come through the door.” He recalled the holidays they had spent together. “The 29 years you lived is not enough. You wanted more for yourself and for the nation you served.” Yosef was the rock of the family, he said, the one who filled the house with life and organized events.

National Police Commissioner, Insp.-Gen. Roni Alsheich, said, “You defended Israeli citizens time after time. This time, you paid a heavy price to save the lives of others.”

Victims Jerusalem teorrist attack

Jerusalem resident Levana Malihi, 60, left, and police officer First Sergeant Yosef Kirma, 29, who were shot dead in a terror attack in Jerusalem,

Almost immediately after his funeral, a funeral was held for the other shooting victim, Levana Malichi who was buried in Jerusalem’s Har Hamenuchot cemetery. She leaves behind behind a husband, three daughters and six grandchildren.                 (Jerusalem Post)

Malihi, a mother of three and grandmother of six, was a retired Knesset employee.

Malihi worked in the Knesset for more than 30 years until retiring in 2010, the parliament’s spokesman said in a statement. “Veteran workers remember a very warm woman, loved by all, dedicated, caring and modest,” the statement said.

She was fatally shot by the terrorist as she waited with a group of other Israelis for public transport.

Her nephew Harel told reporters that the family was requesting privacy in this difficult time.

“The family is mourning and in pain and still trying to come to terms with the bitter news,” he said.                    (Jerusalem Post)

Police remain on high alert in capital

Before Sunday’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem, police had already increased their actions and presence in the eastern part of the city, especially as the High Holy Days approached, in what they described as an ongoing battle against terrorism and violent crimes.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that police have sought to increase efforts without changing “routine life.”

“We are calling up forces especially for Succot and Yom Kippur to protect the general public’s security and feeling of security,” she said. “We are continuing in normal life. But the other side is, we also make efforts for the citizens to respond to every suspicious person or suspicious car. There are no changes in the routine of life, there are no special instructions.”

But Samri also acknowledged that police face particular challenges in combating “lone-wolf” attackers.

After a wave of mid-September attacks that included the stabbing of two police officers the Old City on September 19, police greatly increased their physical presence and actions in east Jerusalem. As a result of those stabbings, police shuttered Arab-owned shops near Damascus Gate for several hours to conduct an investigation.

On September 22, hundreds of police raided Shuafat and Isawiya in east Jerusalem and arrested at least two dozen people on charges of rioting, illegal possession of firearms, and terrorism.

On October 2 police enlarged their preparations throughout Jerusalem for Rosh Hashana. Police filed indictments that same day against six residents of the Shuafat refugee camp in northeastern Jerusalem accused of forming an ISIS cell and plotting to attack Israelis.                    (Jerusalem Post)

PA President Abbas’ Fatah Movement Hails Terrorist ‘Martyr’ Who Slaughtered 2 Israelis, Wounded 6 Others in Jerusalem Shooting Spree

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction lauded the actions of the terrorist who murdered two Israelis and wounded at least six on Sunday morning in a shooting spree in Jerusalem, the research institute Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) reported.

According to the report, Fatah honored Silwan resident Musbah Abu Sbeih – whom it called a “martyr” for Allah, as he was killed by Israeli security forces after going on his bloody rampage. In two separate postings on its official Facebook page, Fatah praised the killer and declared both a day of mourning and a general strike on his behalf.

The following is one excerpt from Fatah’s Facebook page, provided and translated by PMW:

October 9, 2016 8:43 am

The one who carried out the operation today in Jerusalem is a pilgrim [to Mecca] Martyr Musbah Abu Sbeih (40), one of the most prominent people in Jerusalem and the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque and a released prisoner.

He was supposed to turn himself in today and begin a sentence of four months on charges of Ribat (i.e., religious conflict/war over land claimed to be Islamic) at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and hitting the occupation’s soldiers.

He was arrested in 2013 in the Bab Huta region of the Old City of Jerusalem on charges of hitting an officer and was released, but to his surprise the case was reopened in 2015 and he was sentenced to a four month active sentence, and according to the ruling of the Israeli Magistrate Court that was given roughly one month ago, the ruling was supposed to be carried out in the middle of this month [October 2016].

The occupation authorities persecuted him over the last two weeks and he was arrested and detained five times in a row, and after his last arrest he was released on condition of being distanced from East Jerusalem for one month, and before that he was given a ruling preventing him from traveling [abroad] until the end of this year, and he was forbidden from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque for six months, after being released [from arrest] at the end of last year [2015].

Below is another:

The Jerusalem branch of Fatah announced mourning and a general strike today [Oct. 9, 2016] in Jerusalem in memory of the souls of the Martyrs of Palestine and this morning’s Martyr Musbah Abu Sbeih.

Due to the barbaric escalation being perpetrated by the occupation government and the herds of settlers, which includes killing, violence, destruction, and an attempt to instill fear in our Palestinian cities, villages, and refugee camps, and particularly in Jerusalem, we announce our complete objection to crimes of these types being carried out before the international community and its human rights organizations…The occupation government and its executive branches must bear the consequences of what they are perpetrating against the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the disregard of Muslim sensibilities, and the granting of permission to the settlers to invade it, defile it, and desecrate its sanctity on a daily basis under the umbrella and protection of the occupation police…

As reported, Israel Police Staff Sgt. Major Yosef Kirma, 29, and Lavana Malihi, 60, were the two Israelis slain by Abu Sbeih, who was supposed to arrive at the Ramle Prison on Sunday to begin serving a sentence for assaulting a police officer. Kirma, who was awarded the equivalent of a Purple Heart in December for preventing a stabbing attack against Israeli schoolchildren, died from gunshot wounds sustained in the course of his pursuit after and battle with the terrorist from east Jerusalem.

Fatah regularly uses social media to honor terrorists, while Abbas proclaims he is interested in reaching a peace agreement with Israel. As he attended the funeral of elder Israeli statesman Shimon Peres on Sept. 30, and shook hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his faction posted a cartoon on its Facebook page, depicting a trembling Peres being read a rap sheet of his many “crimes” against humanity by the Grim Reaper, before being sentenced to Hell. (the Algemeiner)

Rabbi airlifted to Israel after assault in Ukraine

A Chabad rabbi in Ukraine was airlifted to Israel for treatment on Saturday, after he was severely beaten in the western city of Zhitomir on Friday, a spokesperson for the Hasidic group said, adding it is too early to tell whether the assault was a hate crime.

Rabbi Mendel Deitsch, a longtime Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in France and more recently in Israel, was assaulted at the city’s central train station early Friday morning, where he was discovered and transported to a local hospital, according to the statement on the website of the Chabad movement.

The Jewish Community of Zhitomir was alerted to the attack hours after the hospitalization of Deitsch, who is in critical condition, according to the report. The motive for the attack remains unknown, the statement also said.

Anti-Semitic assaults are rare in Ukraine, where fewer than 30 such incidents are reported annually.  (Jerusalem Post)

Axe-wielding man threatens Jews near synagogue in England

A man carrying an axe made anti-Semitic threats to a group of Jews in a town near Manchester, England on Rosh Hashanah.

The man reportedly was inside a vehicle close to a synagogue in the town of Prestwich when he made the threats on Oct. 3, according to The Manchester Evening News.

Police were called to the scene, and later the same day arrested a 45-year-old man suspected of possessing a weapon and committing a racially motivated public order crime.

The man was let out on bail until Oct. 31.

“This was unfortunately a very ugly incident and we are glad that the police response has been so speedy and correct,” said a spokesman for the Jewish group Community Security Trust, according to The Manchester Evening News.

Local police said the incident was still under investigation.

Prestwich is home to a thriving Jewish community, served by several kosher supermarkets, butchers and clothing shops catering to the modest standards of observant women.       (Jerusalem Post)

Ethiopian aliya resumes as first group arrives in Israel

A group of 63 Ethiopian immigrants (olim) arrived in Israel Sunday night, the beginning of a new wave of aliya from Ethiopia in accordance with a government decision passed in August. According to the decision, the government will bring 9,000 Falash Mura to Israel by the end of 2020, starting with 1,300 Ethiopians who are expected to arrive by the end of 2016. This follows a three-year hiatus after a declaration of the “end of Ethiopian aliya,” which left many families separated.

Tears of happiness were shed Sunday night as some of those families were reunited after having been apart for as long as ten years. But for some, that joy was clouded by longing and uncertainty as many still have loved ones waiting in Gondar and Addis Ababa, both cities which have been affected by the violent riots which have have claimed dozens of lives in recent weeks.

In a welcome address to the newcomers at Ben Gurion Airport, MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) said he blessed the families who had been reunited after years of separation. “But in the same breathe, I don’t forget those who still have family waiting.”

Neguise, who himself made aliya from Ethiopia in 1985, has been instrumental in the cause of the Falash Mura.

Falash Mura is the name given to those of the Beta Israel community in Ethiopia and Eritrea who – under compulsion and pressure from missionaries – converted to Christianity during the 19th and 20th centuries.

Neguise, alongside MK David Amsalem (Likud), refused to vote with the coalition until a November 2015 cabinet decision to resume Ethiopian aliya was implemented, after it has been put on hold due to budgetary issues. Both MKs witnessed the first fruits of their efforts at Sunday’s festive welcoming ceremony, alongside Immigration and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.

Expressing his sorrow over the deadly terror attack in Jerusalem earlier Sunday, Neguise said it was was important to remember -specifically that day- that “aliya is the best way to strengthen Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

“When I came here 31 years ago i was in the same situation you are in now.” he told the new olim. “With some effort, I managed to integrate in society, to get an education and to become a legislator. I believe that every one of you can also integrate and advance in Israel through personal efforts and equal opportunities.”

Sharansky hailed the arrival of the olim as “the last stages of a historic aliya that began with the covert operations Moses and Solomon.” He assured the group that the rest of their relatives would be united with them in Israel and stressed that they would receive support settling into Israel, a message echoed by Landver.

The new olim were headed to Safed, where they will begin their new lives in Israel.   (Jerusalem Post)

Netanyahu says Dimona nuclear reactor to be named for Peres

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday announced that he intends to rename the Dimona nuclear reactor in southern Israel for the late president and prime minister Shimon Peres.

At the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu told ministers, “I intend to rename the Negev Nuclear Research Center in Dimona after Shimon Peres.”

“He was very active in establishing this important project for Israel’s security for generations, and I think that it’s appropriate and right to name the compound after him,” the prime minister said.

The announcement came nearly two weeks after Peres, an elder statesman who held nearly every high office in Israel, died at 93.

When he was still in his 30s, during the 1950s, Peres played a key part in Israel’s pursuit of a nuclear capability at the urging of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion.

He reached a secret agreement with France that led to the building of a nuclear reactor at Dimona, which went critical around 1962.

Israel is now considered to be the Middle East’s sole nuclear-armed power, although it has never confirmed it, maintaining a policy of ambiguity.

It is estimated to have produced enough weapons-grade plutonium at Dimona to arm between 100 and 200 nuclear warheads, according to the US-based Nuclear Threat Initiative.

Following his death, in a rare statement, Ze’ev Snir, head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, paid tribute to Peres’s “substantive contribution” to the establishment of the Negev Nuclear Research Center near Dimona, and to the “founding of Israel’s nuclear policy as a significant plank in ensuring the national strength of the country.”

Peres, who was president and twice prime minister, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role in negotiating the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, and saw no contradiction between that achievement and his nuclear efforts.

“Dimona helped us to achieve Oslo,” he told Time magazine in an interview in February.

“Because many Arabs, out of suspicion, came to the conclusion that it’s very hard to destroy Israel because of it, because of their suspicion.

“Well if the result is Dimona, I think I was right. Anyway, we’ve never threatened anybody with nuclear bombs, and we’ve never tested it.”   (the Times of Israel)

Many unanswered questions remain after Jerusalem attack

by Yossi Melman           The Jerusalem Post


A host of questions remain about the deadly terrorist attack on Sunday in Jerusalem.

But most of the answers are under a gag order issued by the court at the request of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the police.

So it will take some time before we know if this was another “lone wolf” attacker, such as we have seen so many times since the current wave of terrorism began a year ago. How did he manage to obtain a rifle, and was he a member of Hamas, which together with Islamic Jihad, took credit for the attack? The things we already know – the type of weapon, his age, and his past activities – indicate that this wasn’t a typical lone wolf incident.

All the pieces of information we have on the assailant – his record of involvement in provocations regarding the Temple Mount, incitement, friction with security forces, and serving a year in prison – suggest a police failure to prevent the attack.

On the other hand, the Shin Bet and police have a full plate. They can’t follow and monitor every individual and take legal action against all of them, especially residents of east Jerusalem, who have the same rights of movement as Israeli citizens.

shooting attack in Jerusalem

Scene of shooting attack in Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill

Nevertheless, when answers are finally given, the situation will not change dramatically. So far, 43 Israelis and 240 Palestinians have been killed in the past year, and the current wave of terrorism is not going to go anywhere. It first came in waves and will continue in waves. Weapons such as knives or cars, and the young perpetrators who use them, can be easily replaced, and allow the terrorism to continue.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad will continue to try to organize, provoke and incite West Bank Palestinians to kill Israeli Jews. Individuals or groups – whenever they are able to put their hands on more sophisticated weapons – will prefer those over knives or homemade equipment.

Despite nightly efforts by security forces to expose and dismantle weapons caches and manufacturing workshops, the West Bank remains swamped with tens of thousands of homemade weapons, among other, more standard devices.

The security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is ongoing. This is in the mutual interest of both sides. But that may well be eroded, bearing in mind the intensified, poisonous atmosphere, the lack of diplomatic progress, the expansion of the settlements and the weakening of the Palestinian Authority president.

But above all, Sunday’s attack clearly shows the explosive potential of Jerusalem and the Temple Mount. In recent months it seemed that, as a generator of terrorist attacks, those issues had weakened.

But that is a false impression.

They remain highly inflammatory topics, and any minor incident, particularly in this month of the High Holy Days and Jewish pilgrimage to Jerusalem, can ignite the flames.

Even if this month passes in relative calm, Israelis and Palestinians will continue to live with endless, subdued violence, on a collision course with the powers of destruction.

Jerusalem shooting attack serves Hamas goal of igniting West Bank

by Yaacov Lappin                  The Jerusalem Post


Despite the considerable efforts made by security forces in recent weeks to prevent a surge of Palestinian terrorism during the High Holy Days, an east Jerusalem gunman succeeded in obtaining an automatic firearm and going on a murderous shooting spree in the capital, gunning down a woman and a policeman before being killed in return fire.

The terrorist took advantage of the ease of movement east Jerusalem residents, who hold Israeli residency, have, as well as the disturbing ease with which firearms can be bought in east Jerusalem.

The latest jihadist rampage on Jerusalem’s streets will serve Hamas’s goal of igniting a wave of violence among Palestinians in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The Aksa Mosque compound plays a key role in this recruitment and call to violence.

Hamas seeks to start a new intifada and use it to burn Israel – and the Palestinian Authority, which it wishes to topple and replace.

Hamas leaders believe they can do this while maintaining the truce in their home turf of Gaza, where they use the calm to rebuild rockets and dig tunnels.

In a videotaped message, the terrorist behind Sunday’s attack said his actions were designed to “safeguard Al-Aksa Mosque,” vowing that Jerusalem would be “liberated from their [ Jews’] contamination.”

This rhetoric is a reflection of the ongoing incitement on Palestinian social media and established Palestinian media channels, aimed at promoting the popular Palestinian conspiracy that Israel plots to harm Al-Aksa.

Such incitement to violence traditionally surges during Jewish holiday periods, and security forces have in recent weeks stepped up counterterrorism raids on the homes of suspects, on gun manufacturing workshops and on weapons dealers in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

The footage left behind by the terrorist was aired by Hamas’s mouthpiece, the Al-Quds satellite television station, and Hamas members in Gaza, quick to try and claim responsibility, said the attacker was one of their own.

The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) will now be seeking to ascertain whether the attacker did in fact have organizational ties to Hamas, and whether he received any assistance in the attack.

Alternatively, he may have acted without any organizational assistance, becoming the latest domino in a chain of deadly lone terrorists.

Either way, Hamas’s efforts at pyromania are set to continue, and Israel will have to brace for further attacks by loners or small cells that answer the call to kill.

The threat of small numbers of attackers is always the most difficult for intelligence agencies to detect and preempt, and if more attacks occur, the defense establishment can be expected to initiate larger countermeasures to make up for the lack of intelligence.

All sides seem to be aware of the possibility that a fire started in east Jerusalem or the West Bank can easily spread to Gaza.

Hope is not a strategy

by Joel Braunold and Jeremy Saltan                           The Jerusalem Post

http://m.jpost.com/Opinion/Hope-is-not-a-strategy-469708#article=6022Rjg1OThBNEI1MzI2RjFENERFMDI4OUI3MjFGNTAyRUY =

When asked about the future of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by the White House press pool, former US president Bill Clinton, who had just returned from the funeral of Shimon Peres, stated that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal will happen at some point because the young people in the region will demand it.

The assessment made by Clinton has been made by countless others in the past and is a mainstream position among policy makers – young Israelis will be our saviors. However, if one looks at the data, statistics and polling of young people in Israel, it is quite clear that the next generation in Israel has a different view than many policy wonks.

A Smith poll published by The Jerusalem Post on July 17, 2016, found among the 18-29 demographic only 35 percent supported the principle of “two states for two nations” as a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict compared to 53% against it. The youngest voters were the least supportive of the two-state solution. The poll results countered Clinton’s argument and found that the older the voter the more likely they would support of a two-state solution.

A Smith poll published by the Post on August 31, 2016, found a majority (54%) among the 18-29 demographic considered haredi (ultra-Orthodox) control over religion and state issues acceptable compared to a minority (43%) among the 50-plus demographic.

The latest Pew poll conducted in Israel, arguably the most comprehensive polling ever conducted in Israel, found the younger age bracket (in this case 18-49) was more religiously observant and less supportive of two states than their elders.

The younger demographic is more inclined to be supportive of settlements, believe that Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel, believe that security is Israel’s biggest threat, believe that Israel was given to the Jews by God, favor gender segregation on public transportation, favor Halacha as a basis of law in Israel and view the US as not supportive enough of Israel.

The policy positions of young Israelis trickle down to party affiliation and prime minister preference.

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A Midgam poll broadcast by Army Radio in 2015 found 18-29 year olds were the most likely to choose Netanyahu as prime minister (57%) and least likely to choose Herzog (19%). Midgam found the older the voter the more likely was support of Herzog over Netanyahu.

A Teleseker poll published by Walla in 2013 found 67.6% of Bayit Yehudi voters were between the ages of 18-49, compared to 32.4% over the age of 50.

There is a clear trend that the younger generation is more religious and more right-wing than previous generations. While in most countries the younger population represents a more left-wing and socially open constituency, in Israel the trend is actually the opposite.

It is our belief that this is due to at least two factors.

The changing demographics in Israel mean that the next generation is more religious. The official Israeli Social Survey of the Central Bureau of Statistics found the 18-29 demographic is more religious than the older demographics. The Haredi share of the 18-29 population is 12%. The national religious share is 13%, and the traditional share is 31%.

Although secular Israelis make up a majority of the 50-plus demographic (52%), they make up 44% of the 18-29 demographic. This trend is set to continue in the coming years as 28% of haredim aged 40 or older have seven or more children compared to less than 1% of secular Israelis.

These long-term demographic changes adjust the make-up of the younger generation and, given the separation within the Israeli education system, carries forward their communities’ belief systems in separate tracks.

While the demographics can help explain the religiosity of the younger cohort, their support for the Right is not mere biological determinism.

This is a generation that came of age during the Second Intifada and its aftermath. The hope and promise of the 1990s means little to nothing to young Israelis. The political horizon of young Israelis has been one of stunted visions and conflict management.

Given that reality, young Israelis’ skepticism regarding everything other than what they have experienced is understandable.

The purpose of this snapshot is to ground in reality the current situation of young people in Israel today. To believe young Israelis will demand a future that is different from their current experience, with all things being equal, does not bear out in the data. As time goes on the demographic realities of young Israelis manifest in overall poll numbers, such as a Panels poll in May that found 53% of Israelis in favor of applying Israeli law to at least some settlements in Judea and Samaria/West Bank.

Israeli youth differ from the progressive left-wing wave of change that we see elsewhere in the world.

The majority of young Israelis resemble and identify more with the governing right-wing religious coalition of Israel, not the left-wing secular opposition.

The hope of a rising youth that will demand the change president Clinton hopes to see coming from Israel is against all trends in the data. Rather than trusting gut feelings and being disappointed when the results don’t pan out, a realistic assessment of the current state of play should drive policy making and strategic considerations. Only with an eyes-open approach can those who wish for a change in the status quo begin to build a strategy to achieve it.

Condolence Motion for Shimon Peres – Prime Minister The Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP and Leader of the Opposition The Hon Bill Shorten MP




10 October 2016

Condolence motion – Shimon Peres

Parliament House, Canberra


On September 28, Shimon Peres, former President and Prime Minister of Israel, died.

We mourn his passing, but we honour and we celebrate his long and eventful life.

The passion of Shimon Peres for the State of Israel, which he helped to found, was matched only by his commitment to pursuing peace for Israel with its neighbours.

The man whose chosen surname is derived from an ancient Hebrew word for “bird of prey” would become known over seven decades of statesmanship as a “dove” of peace.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in support of the Oslo Accords. To this day, his Peres Centre for Peace seeks to link Israelis and Palestinians in programmes that promote co-existence and reconciliation.

Shimon Peres’ deep personal commitment to his nation began when the State of Israel was but a dream for the Jewish diaspora.

Born Shimon Persky on 2 August 1923 in Poland, he was the son of Jewish parents Yitzhak and Sara. At the age of 11, Shimon and his family moved to Tel-Aviv in British-mandated Palestine.

Shimon formed his first political leanings in Israel’s Kibbutz system, joined the Zionist movement to establish the nation state of Israel, and served in Israel’s pre-independence military organisation, the Haganah.

Following Israel’s independence in 1948, he worked alongside Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.

At the age of just 29 Shimon was appointed Director-General of the Defence Ministry.

In 1959 he was elected to Parliament and served in the Knesset until 2007, working for multiple governments as foreign minister, finance minister and defence minister. He served twice as Prime Minister, once in the early 1980s, and again briefly after incumbent Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995.

Shimon Peres served as Israel’s’ ninth President from 2007 to 2014, retiring just days before his 91st birthday, and remained a powerful advocate for a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. ‘The Palestinians’ Shimon said, ‘are our closest neighbours; I believe they may become our closest friends’.

His dream was to see both Israelis and Palestinians live in peace and security-to build; to educate their citizens; and to prosper.

My wife Lucy recently visited Israel with a group of businesswomen to visit hi-tech innovators and universities, key assets in the economic success story of modern Israel.

The group had the privilege of visiting Shimon Peres at the Peres Centre for Peace.

Mr Peres told Lucy the secret of perpetual youth was to ensure that your list of dreams always remained longer than your list of achievements.

Unfortunately, Shimon Peres never visited AustraliaŠ. but he certainly respected us.

He spoke emotionally of the sacrifices made by Australians who fell in World War 1 in the Middle East, and he would recall warmly the friendliness and informality of the Australian troops stationed in Israel during World War 2.

But perhaps his affection for Australia was more personal.

His father, Yitzhak Persky, was saved from Nazi execution by a fellow Prisoner of War, Australian Methodist Minister Rex Dakers.

After escaping from the Nazis, his father was re-captured.

Padre Dakers convinced the Nazi soldiers that Persky and his co-conspirator had not received a proper trial and to shoot the men would be considered a war crime. Then Padre boldly warned that if they were shot, the Nazis would have to shoot him as well.

Yitzhak Persky lived because of Rex Dakers’ moral courage.

When Shimon Peres’s son, Chemi, visited Melbourne last year, he visited the Dakers family: a moment that Shimon called the closing of a circle.

I extend Australia’s sympathy to his children: Yoni, Zvia and Chemi and their families and I take this opportunity to acknowledge his marriage of 66 years to their mother Sonya Gelman, who passed away a few years ago.

I also extend Australia’s condolences to the Government and people of Israel and the many people in the Australian Jewish community who enjoyed a friendship with Shimon Peres.

We understand and share your loss.

Mr Peres once said that, ‘The duty of leaders is to pursue freedom ceaselessly, even in the face of hostility, in the face of doubt and disappointment. Just imagine what could be’.

He echoed there, and often invoked, David’s words in the 34th Psalm verse 14 – “Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” It is not enough to want peace, to yearn for it, but we must, like Shimon Peres did and David urged, pursue it with the relentless determination of the hunter.

Israel’s prosperity-forged by the intellect and innovation of its people-has proved Shimon Peres was right to believe in great opportunities for his nation and he was right to dream of greater possibilities in a peaceful future to come.








Today we pay our respects to the last of Israel’s founding generation

A youthful prodigy, an elder statesman, an icon, a magnetic orator, a deep thinker, a servant of peace.

I had the privilege of meeting with him on a number of occasions, including with Chloe, when we were in Israel in 2012.

He was a very charismatic man but also generous with his time, his advice and his attention.

Shimon Peres lived the story of his people, a migrant story, leaving Poland to join the diaspora, pursuing a new life in Palestine.

His father scratching out a future for the family in unforgiving soil. His grandfather, who gifted young Shimon a love of reading, stayed in Poland and was burned alive in a synagogue when the Nazis captured his village.

The teenage Shimon wept for his lost loved ones, studied hard, tilled the fields by day and guarded the kibbutz with a rifle by night.

His story, the Jewish story, is a story of indignities endured and atrocities overcome.

A humanity stronger than the jackboot, a faith more powerful than hatred.

A people who, from the ashes of Shoah, built a new nation in their ancient homeland.

From the first days of modern Israel to its seventh decade, Shimon Peres served his people and spoke for his nation.

The child of the kibbutz drove the transformation of the desert.

He armed his nation against existential threat.

He helped lead Israel’s embrace of science, technology and research.

He fought for a country secure in its independence, confident of its place in the region and safe in the world.

But, for all his success, the breadth of his achievements and the long shadow of his legacy, one noble goal eluded him-peace.

As he once said of Israel’s wars:

“We won them all, but we did not win the greatest victory that we aspired to: release from the need to win victories.”

With the passing of Shimon Peres, the quest for a secure and lasting peace in the Middle East passes to all those whom he mentored and inspired.

Let us vow to do what we can to assist the cause of peace, to support the right of all who call this region home to live in peace with one another.

Let that be Shimon Peres’s final legacy and his greatest.


May he rest in peace.

No Apologies for Being a Jewish Nation – Ruth R. Wisse (Wall Street Journal)

In the 20th century, some modern European thinkers and political leaders began singling out the Jews for their alleged racial or religious or social culpabilities.

No sooner had the politics of Jew-blame reached its genocidal apotheosis in Europe than it was taken up in the Middle East. Rather than accepting the principle of co-existence and concentrating on improving the lives of their own subjects, Arab leaders refused Jews the right to their homeland in a war that they, the Arab leaders, had initiated.

Forcing almost a million Jews from their ancient communities in Arab lands, the same leaders blamed Israel for Arab refugees whom they themselves refused to resettle.

This calumny is by now the basis of political coalitions not only at the UN and in Europe but on campuses here in the U.S.  So ingrained are the assumptions of Jew-blame that newspapers will often devote more coverage to the shooting of one Palestinian Arab by an Israeli, often unintentionally or in self-defense, than to the murders of Jewish civilians by Arab and Muslim terrorists.

For its obsession with Israel’s putative misdeeds to the neglect of the unspeakable crimes committed by so many UN member states, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently declared at the General Assembly that “the UN, begun as a moral force, has become a moral farce.”

He is surely right that ending the obsession with Israel would benefit the entire world. The Jewish nation is owed the unconditional respect of its fellow nations and must demand of others what it expects others to demand of themselves.

The writer is a former professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard.

Prime Minister Netanyahu demolishes the false claims about “obstacles for peace.”