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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Without Peres Would Israel’s Vision Perish?

Shimon.Peres.Barbra.StreisandMention the name ‘Shimon Peres’ almost anywhere in Israel and those listening smile broadly.

What’s more, scores of the world’s most celebrated figures congregated in Jerusalem this week for a  love fest to mark his forthcoming 90th birthday.

So what has the Israeli president achieved that has made him so vastly popular?

I suggest that the answer is simple:

It’s because Peres has restored honour and dignity to the office of the presidency, dulling the universally felt pain caused by the criminally destructive behaviour of his predecessor, Moshe Katzav.

It is also because Peres has invested his work as Israel’s elder statesman  with a sense of approachable, sensible, fair-minded Jewishness.

So I think it’s no coincidence that he asked Barbra Streisand to sing her version of the Jewish High Holydays melody, Aveinu Malkeinu  (Our Father, Our King) at his birthday celebration.

Not only did it give the party a hallowed air, it underlined Streisand’s trenchant views about how the ultra Orthodox community treats women, while highlighting  Israel’s valiant efforts to be an egalitarian society despite the many pitfalls on the way.

All this, from someone who came from an ultra Orthodox background and had been blessed by the revered  Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan (‘The Chofetz Chaim’). Indeed, the superstitious may claim the blessing was a good omen for his continuing long, successful life.

The biblical Proverbs maintain “בְּאֵין חָזוֹן יִפָּרַע עָם  - “without vision, a people perish” (29:18). I would also like to ask, after the Book of Samuel ”הגם שמעון נביאים  - is Shimon also among the prophets?

Below, Streisand sings with a Hebrew choir at an IDF Fundraiser.



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