by Professors Paul Eidelberg & Wolf Pearlman
I have stated that I totally and utterly reject Peres and consider his rise to prominence a malignant, immoral disgrace. I will rend my clothes in mourning for the State if I see him become a minister in the Israeli government.
Moshe Sharett, Former Israeli Prime Minister
Personal Diary (1957)
Last summer Israel suffered an incalculable defeat in the Second Lebanese War. According to former Chief of General Staff Lt. Moshe Ya’alon, what precipitated that war was the government’s policy of “unilateral disengagement” from Gaza. That policy not only led to the ascendancy of Hamas, a proxy of Iran; it also encouraged Hezbollah, another Iranian proxy, to attack Israel from the north.
No one who supported withdrawal from Gaza, which involved the expulsion of 8,000 Jews from their homes, should be elected President of Israel—certainly not the most persistent advocate of that policy of retreat, Shimon Peres. But there are other reasons why Mr. Peres should not be elected President of the state of Israel—reasons that go back to the First Lebanese War of 1982, otherwise known as Operation Peace for Galilee.
It so happens that in 1982 Shimon Peres was the leader of the labor Party. Since Peres is campaigning to become Israel’s next President, it behooves us to scrutinize his role in the First Lebanese War—a subject that needs to be re-examined in view of the tragic loss of Jewish life in that country and Israel’s ignominious withdrawal.
A visiting American congressman expressed astonishment by the vast chasm between Israel’s abysmal media image and the truth he had himself witnessed at the front in Lebanon. Aryeh Naor, a former cabinet secretary, maintains that Operation Peace for Galilee was subverted by the scathing criticism of the Likud Government by opposition politicians, journalists, and Peace Now demonstrations.
Chilling confirmations are found in Tsali Reshef’s book Peace Now (1996). Reshef admits that Peace Now’s propaganda campaign went into full swing on 16 June 1982, ten days after the start of the Lebanese war. This was followed by a “100,000” demonstration on 6 July 1982 (with chants for Defense Minister Ariel Sharon’s resignation), culminating with an anti-Government rally joined by Labor leader Shimon Peres.
To undermine the Government, the Peres camp accused Sharon of having failed to inform Prime Minister Menachem Begin of the true aims of the war. Yet, as early as 1983, Yossi Sarid (then a Labor MK) revealed that “the Labor Party leadership knew from the start that the Peace for Galilee operation would [go beyond the 45 kilometer line and] reach Beirut.” (Ma’ariv, 26 April 1983.)
This revelation propelled MK Yitzhak Zinger (Likud) to demand that Peres apologize to Mr. Begin for disseminating “falsehoods,” namely, that Labor was from the outset unaware that the operation would go beyond the 45 kilometer line, and that Sharon was deceiving the Government vis-à-vis the Beirut stage of the campaign.
Credence to Mr. Zinger’s charges is given by a 1984 report attributed to the late Yitzhak Rabin: “Two months before the war [April 1982], Begin and Sharon revealed the ‘Big Plan’ to the Labor leadership—Peres, Bar-Lev, and himself.” (Ma’ariv, 7 April 1984.) Communist MK Meir Wilner confirmed this in a speech to the Young Communist League. Although he should not have been privy to such highly classified information, Wilner boasted that he knew, on 10 April 1982, that the “war plan of Begin and Sharon is to conquer Lebanon including Beirut and transfer power to the fascist [sic] Phalange.” (Ha’aretz, 11 April, 1982.)
Who leaked Israel’s war plan?
At 10:00 p.m., on Saturday night, 5 June 1982, Shimon Peres hastily convened a meeting of his inner circle of colleagues, among whom was Yossi Sarid. According to Sarid, in an article published five years after the war (Ha’aretz, 21 August 1987), Peres reported that “the war in Lebanon would commence the following morning with the operational intention of reaching Beirut to join up with the Christian forces.”
The article goes on to say that Peres, upon returning from a visit to the front on 15 June 1982, told his party’s inner circle: “Comrades, we have to admit they [the Likud Government] have got a trump card going for them. The Americans are supporting and collaborating. The Russians have simply disappeared. Many of our chilling forecasts have proved to be hollow. Contrary to our earlier fears the war is one big success. The war is near to attaining all of its principal goals. In a few days—it is impossible to deny the facts—a peace treaty between Lebanon and Israel will be signed. This will be their [the Likud’s] second treaty [the first being with Egypt]. They will also succeed in expelling Arafat and all his terrorists and disperse them to the winds. In short, they will break up the PLO”!
Sarid concluded (without realizing he was incriminating himself!): “On one substantial issue I agree with Ariel Sharon: the Labor Party must be investigated regarding its stance and behavior during the various stages of the war! If the party critically damaged the war effort—as others contend—it must certainly render an account to the nation.”
No such investigation has ever been made, even though the withholding of Peres’ favorable assessment of the Government’s goals and achievements in Lebanon on the tenth day of the war had devastating consequences. It largely explains the media’s denigration of Israel, the shattering of the nation’s morale, and the succumbing of public opinion to the propaganda of Peace Now.
Recall that Tsali Reshef admitted that Peace Now’s propaganda campaign went into full swing on 16 June 1982. This was the day after Peres told his inner circle that the Likud Government was on the way to destroying the PLO and signing a peace treaty with Lebanon—two accomplishments that boded ill for the Labor Party’s political future.
Fourteen years later, Reshef boasted, in Peace Now, that “the majority in Israel have now internalized both the message and ritual of Peace Now as mouthed by us over the years.” Already in 1987, however, veteran members of Ben-Gurion’s party accused Peres of transforming the party into an imitation of Peace Now. (Ha’aretz, 2 November 1987.)
Responsibility for Israel’s fiasco in Lebanon and its perilous consequences to Jews living near Israel’s northern border can be traced to Shimon Peres. That the same Peres was also responsible for the Oslo Agreement, which brought Yasser Arafat into the Land of Israel, where he established a base for terrorists that murdered more than 1,500 Jews—that this same Peres remains in office and is once again campaigning to become Israel’s President is surely a pathetic commentary on Israel’s political system.
But this recalls former Prime Minister Moshe Sharett’s warning: “I have stated that I totally and utterly reject Peres and consider his rise to prominence a malignant, immoral disgrace.” Yes, but that Peres could remain in office for five decades despite his malignant deeds and policies is also indicative of a malignant system of government. He must not become Israel’s President.