It seems like Israel’s oldest active politician, Shimon Peres (shown at Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo in 1994) is still having a go at it like an aging Marathon runner, in regards to his plan to once again run for President of the State of Israel. Despite his age, 82, and the allegations against him concerning the way he recruited more than $320,000 in ‘questionable’ political contributions, the aging political icon just refuses to retire, and become a full-fledged pensioner.
And why should he, with the average of the members of the newly formed Pensioners being around 75, and party leaders like Rafi Eitan themselves either pushing or crossing the octogenarian mark. Though not a member of Eitan’s party, Peres, since his bolt from his 60 year membership in the Labor Party, has virtually embarked on a new political horizon; thanks to Ehud Olmert’s Kadima Party. Peres is alleged to have received the quasi-legal contributions from some very affluent people, including billionaires Haim Saben, Bruce Rappaport, and Daniel Abrahams. Even though the receipt of the money is not considered illegal, the ethics of the circumstances surrounding the affair could have been a bit more “Kosher”.
Peres still intends to keep his hat in the presidential candidacy ring, however, and the question now is whether he will be able to achieve his goal, and come out a real winner, after so many times of winding up on the losing side. After all, his long political career, though colorful, has not exactly been a successful one. Though he has been Prime Minister twice, the first time in a shared national unity platform with former Likud Party leader Yitzhak Shamir, and the second time following the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Peres has certainly had his trials and tribulations in the tumulus world of Israeli politics. Even his being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize only happened at the last minute following the nomination of Rabin and Yassir Afafat. Perhaps it was Arafat’s winning a share of the 1994 Peace Prize that convinced the Nobel Prize Committee to include Peres in receiving the award that year.
Peres’ often frank and one-sided political views have often hindered him, especially in a part of the world; where Jews like himself are definitely not welcome â€“ or wanted. It’s often been a visual reality that despite his overtures towards establishing peaceful co-existence with Israel’s Arab neighbors, including the Palestinians, these “neighbors’ just don’t want to be neighborly. Events following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, and certainly since the beginning of the Second Intifada in September, 2000, clearly point this out.
Despite all of this, Peres continues to pursue his dream of working out a deal with the Palestinians, and other peoples in the region, and through his Peres Center for Peace he tries to continue a dialogue with more moderate elements in a less than moderate part of the world. Many people, including this writer, would like to believe there is a possibility of peaceful co-existence between Israel and its neighbors. Shimon won’t live forever, however; and one wonders who will pick up and carry the baton after he’s gone.