a different side of Israel

Amir Peretz, the man and moustache

Yesterday the Labour party officially announced their election campaign “dream team”. These are the people that will be in charge of the campaign, that if successful will get Amir Peretz to the position of Prime Minister. The “main man” called in was Stanley Greenberg, election polls expert and political consultant (hired gun) for Clinton in 92, Al Gore and John Kerry. As well he consulted Nelson Mandela, Gerhard Schroder and Tony Blair. In 97 he consulted on the Ehud Barak campaign for Prime Minister, unfortunately getting him elected in 99… To a certain extent I am pleased that Peretz is calling in an English speaking expert to consult him, and by the way I even saw a front page news item today announcing that Peretz is preparing another speech in English.

Anyone that remembers the last one will understand the significance of the announcement.

So following the announcement of the addition of the “Pro” to the election campaign effort, it occurred to me that I don’t know that much about Mr. Peretz. Thankfully, a personal interview on Arutz 2 last night with Amir Peretz provided a little insight into the man and the moustache.

Amir Peretz
So his original name is Armond (he made sure to pronounce it accurately), he is from Morroco (god help you if you need to look up the country) and he emigrated with his family by boat when he was 4 years old (1956). One of his first memories is getting lost on the boat, crying and getting a box of sardines from a stranger. He was returned to his parents happy with the sardine can he received and a strong sense of achievment.

As a boy he fell in love often, was involved and took part in everything around him. Hearing him you got the distinct impression that he was an active kid with a streak for trouble making and involved in everything (some would say that hasn’t changed). He was raised one of 9 kids, growing up in Sderot, a small town in the southern part of Israel and a Mecca for Qassam rockets fired from Gaza. In the 1960’s one of his younger brothers passed away of Leukemia, treatment was almost non existant and very difficult.

He lived in a small house 345 Sq Ft. (and his grandmother as well). Life was tough but they made the best of it, he describes sleeping head to toe in common beds. They had no bicycles and they needed to create their own games. He describes the tree camps that kids built back then. Israel wasn’t as populated and built up, there were more wooded areas and kids would stake out a neighborhood forest as the local HQ, build some tree houses, prepare spears and arrows and develop a mini hierarchy. Sort of like Lord of the Flies but without the island. He was a lieutenant in the group. His older brother was commander.

He also described the lack of means as a source for creativity. I actually remember this part myself (shit..). Going to auto shops and getting from them large ball bearings, placing them at the ends of planks on both ends of a flat board (seat). Sort of like a street cart. Then rolling them down a hill, making a tremendous amount of noise. It was fun and I concur.

In the army he was a captain and was badly injured in the Yom Kippur war when an armored personal carrier crushed his lag. He was in hospital for a year (saw a picture of him grabbing a nurse – it was tasteful though..). He came out of the army with a permenant disability and had to decide between owning a gas station or going into farming. He chose farming, bought a Meshek (farm) in Moshav Nir Akiva and began growing roses (specializing in Vingo Roses), garlic and other stuff. He is known as an expert farmer and grower and would much rather discuss roses.

Apparently he managed to grow some type of Garlic that was in short supply and his first harvest was a great success, allowing him to furnish the entire house in one purchase. Until today the chest of drawers in his bedroom is from that first harvest.

Amir Peretz has four kids, three boys and a girl. The daughter studying acting in the UK has just returned to Israel to provide moral support in the election campaign. He is a dog lover, the family has at any one time 4 or 5 dogs at home – I know what you’re thinking and yes, they all sleep AT HOME. Not out in the yard. Bonus point in my book!

The interviewer runs a quick quiz, Amir can choose from 2 possible answers (selected answers):
Yatzpan or Hagashash ?

(these are comedy troops, Hagashash is an older group that is no longer around that had some of the delivered some of best comedy in Israel and was an important contributor to Israeli culture. Yatzpan, a new generation comedy show (sort of an Israeli David Latterman) and known for impersonating Peretz.)

Morning or Night ?
Summer or Winter ?
Spicy or Sweet ?
Spicy (by far)
Desert or Sea ?
Tel Aviv or Jerusalem ?
Tel Aviv
Yitzhak Rabin or Shimon Peres ?
Movie or Book ?

Che Guevara(the last one he saw was “Motorcycle Diaries” chronicling the life of the young Che Guevara – he enjoyed it immensely…)

An hour discussion with David Ben-Gurion or Theodor Herzl?
The Kotel or Metzada?

Going back to the interview Amir Peretz discusses his parents. His father believed in hard work, always did. His father passed away 3 years ago and it was a dramatic event in his life.

Amir’s mother was a real believer in coexistence with Arabs. She couldn’t see why the two nations couldn’t live together in peace. As a child Amir was wet nursed by an Arab woman. His mother was often going to the market in Gaza. She was also the first to get hurt in an attack in Gaza when a Molotov cocktail was thrown in the market. She was injured and returned later to testify in the trial. She refused to point the finger and identify the attacker despite pressure from authorities.

The Moustache

Now for the important stuff. He loves the moustache and the Moustache loves him back. Its taken them a very long time to learn to live together. It took Peretz time to figure out how to eat soup and jam on bread and not keep tasting both 3 days after the meal (turns out that he flips the bread upside down BTW).

Discussions at the party and among advisors have been ongoing for and against the appendage. He refuses to give it up despite pressure. He has it since he joined the army. At some point complaints from the deaf constituents about the inability to read his lips prompted a careful trim. That’s it though. No other concessions on the size and length of the moustache and he is adamant about keeping it. His family and friends love the moustache and support his choice in physical accessories and do he doesn’t see any reason to get rid of it.

I think that at this point he should leave the Moustache, Amir Peretz without a moustache will be terribly wrong, even..CREEPY.

Peretz is leading the his election campaign with a social and economic agenda. He is concerned about the working class and weaker members of society in Israel and wants to abolish poverty especially among children. He has been an employee rights activist for years and was a notorious Labour leader. His lack of security and military experience as well as his aggressive union leader and socialist background is hurting his chances for election. He also makes big and small business real nervous and not likely to support him. is his official site.


  1. I never knew anything about this guy. The news sites are always repeating the plain facts and this is a nice change. I got the feeling that I know a little more about peretz now. Thank you. Keep it going.

  2. The question is always the same, do politicians keep their promises,because
    talk is cheap.

  3. Perets have to be in jail,for all damage that he did for coutry,and his speech is just another proove how stupid he is….f…n hardcore…

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