Celebrities fly in to salute Shimon Peres’s 80th birthday

September 22, 2003

* Guests for Shimon Peres's 80th birthday party last night include Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev, former South African president F.W. de Klerk, former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke, Northern Irish leader David Trimble, Hollywood actress Kathleen Turner, supermodel Naomi Campbell, and U2 soloist Bono. The slickly produced program included video testimonials from Henry Kissinger, Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen, and Jerry Seinfeld. Presidents from Slovenia to the Ivory Coast were in attendance. From Austria to Angola, they flew in!

* Bill Clinton sings an impromptu duet of the John Lennon classic "Imagine" with an Israeli teenager.

* Peres sat next to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a long-time friend as well as political foe, during the ceremony.

CONTENTS

1. "Celebrities come to salute Peres's 80th" (Jerusalem Post, September 21, 2003)
2. "A tearful, bittersweet evening" (Ha'aretz, September 22, 2003)
3. "Peres tells guests: Peace - 'we can do it'" (Ha'aretz, September 22, 2003)
4. "Peres, at 80, Is Praised by Friends and a Foe" (New York Times, September 22, 2003)
5. "Naomi, Bono, and the glitterati" (Jerusalem Post, September 18, 2003)
6. Letter from Naomi Ragen, one of Israel's best-selling novelists, on the occasion of Shimon Peres' birthday



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach six articles (with summaries first) relating to the gala celebrations for Shimon Peres' 80th birthday held last night in Tel Aviv. The first, fifth and sixth of the attached articles were written in advance of the celebrations.

1. "Celebrities come to salute Peres's 80th" (Jerusalem Post, news section, September 21, 2003). "Israel started rolling out the red carpet for some 400 celebrities from around the world, who will on Sunday evening salute former prime minister Shimon Peres on his 80th birthday. Many of the countries with which Israel has diplomatic relations are sending their foreign ministers. A more limited number of presidents, prime ministers, and former heads of state and government along with international captains of industry, world famous entertainers, and eminent figures from the spheres of science and culture will also attend... Many of the visitors will also attend a briefing in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon... More than 1,200 security personnel will be on duty to protect the safety of the participants... Peres's actual birthday was last month."

2. "A tearful, bittersweet evening" (By David Landau, Ha'aretz English edition editor, September 22, 2003). "It was Bill Clinton who stole the show last night at the Mann Auditorium. "You are a light unto the nations," Clinton told Peres... Almost everyone seemed to cry at some point during the emotion-filled evening. The wide-eyed little Ethiopian boy sitting on Peres' lap in a huge photograph drew a smile and a sigh... When a young Russian immigrant, badly wounded in the Dolphinarium bombing, urged Peres to keep on fighting for peace, the tears flowed freely... Ariel Sharon won his warmest applause when he suggested, at the end of a warm and generous speech, that the two of them, old friends for half a century, could get together again to work for those two desperately elusive goals - peace and security."

3. "Peres tells guests: Peace - 'we can do it'" (By Yossi Verter, Ha'aretz, September 22, 2003). "As he celebrated his birthday yesterday with around 3,000 guests, including Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, Shimon Peres said he still believed peace was possible with the Palestinians... Clinton sang an impromptu duet of the John Lennon classic "Imagine" with an Israeli teenager... The evening was, without doubt, one of the most grandiose and successful productions ever seen on an Israeli stage. It was moving, funny, thrilling and sad all in one. It was schmaltz at its finest; and at the end of the night, the birthday boy appeared, for the first time in his life, truly emotional... one leader who was absent from the celebrations was fellow Nobel laureate Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat."

4. "Peres, at 80, Is Praised by Friends and a Foe" (New York Times, September 22, 2003). "For his 80th birthday celebration, the world came to Shimon Peres. Bill Clinton serenaded him. Mikhail S. Gorbachev saluted him. And the comedian Jerry Seinfeld, in a video greeting from his home, suggested that Mr. Peres extend his peacemaking horizons beyond the Middle East, to include "the Far East, and here, in East Hampton." The elder statesman of Israeli politics and the country's leading dove, Mr. Peres has a world-class set of friends. From Austria to Angola, they flew in to join several thousand Israelis for the birthday event... While Mr. Peres was embraced by all inside the auditorium, some of his right-wing critics took to the streets outside, saying his peace efforts left Israel vulnerable to violence. Members of one group drove through surrounding neighborhoods with a billboard showing Mr. Peres hugging Yasir Arafat during more optimistic times. One sign read, '1,384 victims of Peres's peace plan will never celebrate another birthday.'

... [Inside] Later, a young man badly injured in a Palestinian suicide bombing two years ago walked on stage to commend Mr. Peres. "I was so badly wounded my mother did not identify me when she passed by me," said the man, Faik Kolayev. "I came to tell Shimon Peres to keep struggling for peace." The appreciative audience was in contrast to much of the Israeli news media. "The gala event will show the yawning gap between the world we occupy and the world occupied by Peres," Caroline B. Glick wrote in The Jerusalem Post. "In the world we live in, every promise of peace and a New Middle East has not only been broken, but has blown up in our faces."

5. "Naomi, Bono, and the glitterati" (The Jerusalem Post, Opinion article, September 18, 2003). The conservative Israeli commentator Sarah Honig, writes: "Way back when I was a young cub reporter, Golda Meir took a shine to me and shared some reflections over a glass (not a fancy cup) of steaming hot tea... she acknowledged that abroad her name is always accompanied by such adjectives as "intransigent," "inflexible" or "hard-line." ... "It's easy to win the world's love," she intoned. "Just do as they wish. If you don't, they'll hate you." ... "What can I do?" she shrugged, "The world out there isn't enamored with the Jewish national cause. The more you insist on Jewish interests, the less popular you'll be, and vice versa."

"Over the years her nemesis Shimon Peres kept proving her point with a vengeance... He might have been a political flop back home, but out in the warmth of European cosmopolitan broadmindedness Peres is a leading luminary, wined and dined and eagerly courted... [Meanwhile] we're still paying for Peres's devil-may-care adventurism. His "peace" harmed Israel incalculably more than the so-called occupation he bemoans with European sanctimoniousness, as if he had become a visiting stranger himself, a bit distant from our reality... In his last year in office (1992), 25 Israelis were murdered by terrorists. The grim tally for 2002 was 450. Our economy is in the pits due to the Peres doctrine of any deal being better than no deal."

6. Letter from Naomi Ragen, one of Israel's best-selling novelists, on the occasion of Shimon Peres' birthday: "...Thank you, Mr. Peres, for bringing back Yasir Arafat from Tunis, and for writing your book The New Middle East, to convince the Israeli public to put their lives into Arafat's hands. Thank you, Mr. Peres, for again, and again, and again, backing up Yasir Arafat each time a terrorist attack killed our people, helping to convince Israelis, and the world, that Arafat wasn't responsible. Thank you, Mr. Peres, for paying Roed Larson, over $100,000, a prize from the Peres Center for Peace, for helping you to get a Nobel Prize. Before, during and after getting his prize, Mr. Larsen was notorious for his wonderful contributions to our area, including non-stop incitement against the Israeli people, government and armed forces. Thank you, Mr. Peres... for never visiting a terror victim, for never taking responsibility for Oslo's disasters, for preening and congratulating yourself on your many achievements at the expense of our lives..."

[Reminder: I do not necessarily agree with every sentiment and every article I send out. These dispatches are for information purposes only. Peres is undoubtedly a great man - TG.]

 



FULL ARTICLES

CELEBRITIES COME TO SALUTE PERES'S 80TH

Celebrities come to salute Peres's 80th
By Greer Fay Cashman
The Jerusalem Post (news section)
September 21, 2003

Israel started rolling out the red carpet on Friday for some 400 celebrities from around the world, who will on Sunday evening salute former prime minister Shimon Peres on his 80th birthday.

Many of the countries with which Israel has diplomatic relations are sending their foreign ministers. A more limited number of presidents, prime ministers, and former heads of state and government along with international captains of industry, world famous entertainers, and eminent figures from the spheres of science and culture will also attend.

All of this lends credence to the traditional Jewish belief that a prophet is not heard in his own city. Indeed, Peres was the subject of much criticism in local media reflections on the tenth anniversary of the Oslo Accords.

But if some Israelis will not tolerate his views and often heckle him when he talks of his vision of the new Middle East that will evolve in the aftermath of peace with the Palestinians, others outside Israel hang on to every word as if it were coming straight from Mount Sinai.

Most of the dignitaries will fly in Sunday, just in time to participate in the cornerstone-laying ceremony of the Peres Peace Center in Jaffa.

At the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv, dignitaries will be greeted with a trumpet fanfare on arrival, and the flags of their countries will be displayed in the lobby in addition to those hoisted on the exterior flagpoles of the building.

The visitors will be bused to Jerusalem this afternoon, where they will be given a briefing by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, after which they will attend a reception at Beit Hanassi hosted by President Moshe Katsav.

From there, they will be driven to the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv for a diverse program of speeches, songs, and a "This is Your Life" production, highlighting the milestones in Peres's career of more than 60 years of public service.

Those who can stand the pace will continue on to Herzliya Pituah for an extended celebration hosted by business tycoon Yossi Maiman, who is a long-time supporter of a variety of projects in which Peres takes a keen interest.

There will be little time for sleep. The more intellectual aspect of the state-sponsored event will take place on Monday at Tel Aviv University, by way of a multi-track international conference.

Peres said he perceives the attendance of so many high-powered global personalities more as a tribute to Israel than a tribute to him.

More than 1,200 security personnel will be on duty to protect the safety of the participants.

Conspicuous by her absence will be Sonia Peres, the man of the hour's wife of well over half a century. While always ready to provide moral support on the home front, Sonia Peres had no desire to share her husband's public life.

Peres's actual birthday last month was celebrated in the bosom of his family.

 

A TEARFUL, BITTERSWEET EVENING

A tearful, bittersweet evening
By David Landau
Ha'aretz
September 22, 2003

It was Bill Clinton who stole the show last night at the Mann Auditorium. The waves of love that lapped around him were almost palpable. But it was his predecessor, George Bush Sr., who in his recorded message of congratulations to Shimon Peres encapsulated the significance of the evening.

"We do it," Bush said of himself and the dozens of other world figures who attended personally or sent greetings to Peres, "because we know what he stands for."

Peres, for those in the world that wish Israel well, and for the thousands of his own friends and well-wishers who thronged the hall last night, stands for peace. And the fact that he failed to attain it, and that it seems so far off now, added to the poignancy of the moment.

"You are a light unto the nations," Clinton told him, homing in to the heart of our national discomfort. "In hard times it's so easy to give in to despair - so hard to think about tomorrow."

Almost everyone seemed to cry at some point during the emotion-filled evening. The wide-eyed little Ethiopian boy sitting on Peres' lap in a huge photograph drew a smile and a sigh. When the same face - now atop the uniform of an IDF officer - smiled down from the stage and wished Peres happy birthday, people choked up. When a young Russian immigrant, badly wounded in the Dolphinarium bombing, urged Peres to keep on fighting for peace, the tears flowed freely.

But it wasn't just these scenes that brought on the sadness. Rather, it was the haunting sense that the celebration of Peres' longevity was also, inevitably, the marking of his inability, despite his now-waning years of trying, to make the longed-for breakthrough. It was almost an admission of Israel's inability to reach peace. After all, Mr. Peace himself, for all his indefatigable efforts, could not deliver it.

In this spirit, perhaps a bit maudlin but nonetheless authentic, Ariel Sharon won his warmest applause when he suggested, at the end of a warm and generous speech, that the two of them, old friends for half a century, could get together again to work for those two desperately elusive goals - peace and security.

Clinton, suddenly serious and focused in a speech full of humanity and humor, recalled that the new Palestinian prime minister, Ahmed Qureia, and Shimon Peres had together crafted a peace plan before. That plan was still workable, Clinton urged. "A few miles from here there are Palestinians living who are not so different from you, who hate terror as you do, who are afraid too, who are exhausted too." A partnership between Israelis and Palestinians, he added, "could turn the whole world away from the wretched curse of terror."

It was a motley assortment of past and present statesmen - more past, in fact, than present - that took the trouble to come to Tel Aviv to pay Peres homage. Peres pointed to the special common denominator that bound together the most prominent among them. "These are world leaders who made history," he said. He was referring to Gorbachev, to de Klerk, to David Trimble - men who changed the flow of events in their own countries. Peres sees himself as one of them. His admirers, here and abroad, also see him as a rightful member of that select company. But those same admirers know - and hence the tinge of sadness in yesterday's proceedings - that the history Peres sought to make is yet unmade.

 

PERES TELLS GUESTS: PEACE - 'WE CAN DO IT'

Peres tells guests: Peace - 'we can do it'
By Yossi Verter
Ha'aretz
September 22, 2003

As he celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday with around 3,000 guests, including Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev, former prime minister and Nobel peace laureate Shimon Peres said he still believed peace was possible with the Palestinians.

Peres's birthday wish for peace was shared by many of those invited to the celebrations, such as the former U.S. president who sang an impromptu duet of the John Lennon classic "Imagine" with an Israeli teenager.

"We can renew the hope for peace," Peres said in his speech during the evening of music and dance, parts of which were broadcast live on Israeli television. "It could be much closer than you think and even closer than I believe. We can do it."

Despite the current violence, Peres said in his address to his guests that he remained dedicated to his belief that Israelis and Palestinians could one day live in two separate states side-by-side in peace.

The evening was, without doubt, one of the most grandiose and successful productions ever seen on an Israeli stage. It was moving, funny, thrilling and sad all in one. It was schmaltz at its finest; and at the end of the night, the birthday boy appeared, for the first time in his life, truly emotional.

"I thank you for your vision of the new Middle East ... That we seem so far from that dream today does not lessen its power," Clinton said in his speech.

Peres, who currently serves as leader of the opposition Labor Party, sat next to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, a long-time friend as well as political foe, during the ceremony.

At the end of his address, Peres directed his words to Sharon, "Don't despair," he called to the prime minister.

Security was tight at the gala concert, whose guests included former Soviet president Gorbachev, former South African president F.W. de Klerk, Hollywood actress Kathleen Turner, former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke and a bevy of Israeli cabinet ministers and glitterati. Leaders from around the world who could not make the ceremony sent messages congratulating Peres on his birthday.

But one leader who was absent from the celebrations was fellow Nobel laureate Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat. Organizers said the Palestinian leader, who has been confined by Israeli troops to his West Bank headquarters for over a year, was not invited to the party.

 

PERES, AT 80, IS PRAISED BY FRIENDS AND A FOE

Peres, at 80, Is Praised by Friends and a Foe
By Greg Myre
New York Times
September 22, 2003

For his 80th birthday celebration, the world came to Shimon Peres.

Bill Clinton serenaded him. Mikhail S. Gorbachev saluted him. And the comedian Jerry Seinfeld, in a video greeting from his home, suggested that Mr. Peres extend his peacemaking horizons beyond the Middle East, to include "the Far East, and here, in East Hampton."

The elder statesman of Israeli politics and the country's leading dove, Mr. Peres has a world-class set of friends. From Austria to Angola, they flew in to join several thousand Israelis for the birthday event.

Mr. Peres's friends even include his political enemies.

"We've always maintained our friendship, even when we were bitter enemies," said Ariel Sharon, the hard-line prime minister, who was seated between Mr. Peres and Mr. Clinton for the program. "We both envision the same thing: Israel living in peace and security."

While Mr. Peres was embraced by all inside the auditorium, some of his right-wing critics took to the streets outside, saying his peace efforts left Israel vulnerable to violence.

Members of one group drove through surrounding neighborhoods with a billboard showing Mr. Peres hugging Yasir Arafat during more optimistic times. One sign read, "1,384 victims of Peres's peace plan will never celebrate another birthday."

Mr. Peres, whose actual birthday was on Aug. 16, has always been more popular internationally than at home. He contested national elections five times and never won outright. His idealistic vision of a "new Middle East" is seen by many as hopelessly naïve amid the bloodshed.

The left-leaning Labor Party, which he heads, is the official opposition in Parliament, but is toothless at a time when many Israelis want tough military action against the Palestinians.

Tonight's slickly produced program resembled a show-business awards ceremony. Video testimonials came from Henry A. Kissinger, Barbra Streisand and Woody Allen.

Presentations included children singing peace songs, parodies of Mr. Peres and tearful testimonials from terror victims.

Mr. Clinton, who is wildly popular among many Israelis, received a standing ovation whenever he was introduced. He reviewed Mr. Peres's lengthy résumé, which includes two stints as prime minister, and almost every senior cabinet post. Mr. Peres was the architect of Israel's nuclear program in the 1950's, and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role in the first Israeli-Palestinian peace deal a year earlier.

Later, a young man badly injured in a Palestinian suicide bombing two years ago walked on stage to commend Mr. Peres.

"I was so badly wounded my mother did not identify me when she passed by me," said the man, Faik Kolayev. "I came to tell Shimon Peres to keep struggling for peace."

The appreciative audience was in contrast to much of the Israeli news media.

"The gala event will show the yawning gap between the world we occupy and the world occupied by Peres," Caroline B. Glick wrote in The Jerusalem Post. "In the world we live in, every promise of peace and a New Middle East has not only been broken, but has blown up in our faces."

No prominent Palestinian or Arab figures were present, though Mr. Peres has many longstanding relationships in the Arab world. But 80 schoolchildren, half of them Jewish, half of them Arab, came on the stage to sing John Lennon's "Imagine."

When Mr. Peres finally took the stage at the end of the program, he sounded as optimistic, and idealistic, as ever.

"Together we can renew the hope for peace," he said. Then he turned to Mr. Sharon, and said, "It's closer than what you think and what I believe."

 

NAOMI, BONO, AND THE GLITTERATI

Naomi, Bono, and the glitterati,
By Sarah Honig
The Jerusalem Post (Opinion article)
September 18, 2003

Way back when I was a young cub reporter, Golda Meir took a shine to me and shared some reflections over a glass (not a fancy cup) of steaming hot tea.

Lighting yet another cigarette, she acknowledged that abroad her name is always accompanied by such adjectives as "intransigent," "inflexible" or "hard-line." Whenever a foreign correspondent got within shouting range of her, out would pop the penetrating question: "Why are you so uncompromising?"

She wasn't taken aback. "It's easy to win the world's love," she intoned. "Just do as they wish. If you don't, they'll hate you." She didn't, and was indeed harshly diagnosed as inexplicably and inexcusably afflicted with the Masada Complex.

"What can I do?" she shrugged, "The world out there isn't enamored with the Jewish national cause. The more you insist on Jewish interests, the less popular you'll be, and vice versa."

Over the years her nemesis Shimon Peres kept proving her point with a vengeance. His New Middle East earned him accolades from enlightened international circles. His Oslo project and concomitant Noble Peace Prize made him the darling of the world's trendiest and most beautiful people.

He might have been a political flop back home, but out in the warmth of European cosmopolitan broadmindedness Peres is a leading luminary, wined and dined and eagerly courted. Just a few weeks ago he broke bread in a sumptuous Lake Como villa with no less than the Austrian, Spanish and Turkish premiers and a host of assorted nabobs. While Peres reassured all present that his futuristic vision of a Mid-Eastern utopia is ever-vibrant, supermodel Naomi Campbell entered, clad in a baby-blue original Valentino gown.

To hear Peres groupies, she is one of them. By their account she gushingly revealed she'd heard Peres's birthday was coming up - his 80th - and said she'd "love to come." Upon being told that she was invited to the big September 21 bash - in the Mann Auditorium, no less - she hesitantly inquired if she could bring a friend along, U2 soloist Bono.

See how popular Peres is? It's not just venerated elder statesmen who crave his company. Affirmative RSVPs have already arrived from Ariel Sharon (the guest of honor), Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev and Nelson Mandela, as well as from the presidents of Germany, Poland and the Ivory Coast, to name just a few. But Naomi and Bono will doubtless add glamor and glitz, showing all and sundry how cool and hip youthful Shimon is. That can be a real asset considering the furious Labor speculation that he hasn't quite given up on yet another prime-ministerial nomination.

What a long way this socialist has come from the humble wooden-hut lodgings of Israel's second president Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, or the similar Sde Boker residence of Peres's purported idol David Ben-Gurion. On the other side of the political divide, Menachem Begin made do with two modest rooms in a ground floor walk-in.

It's hard to imagine any of them celebrating a birthday in the flashy and gaudy ambiance of the international in-crowd.

But pleasing world opinion has its perks. Peres's popularity is perhaps the only remaining fringe benefit still accrued from the Oslo process, whose 10th anniversary coincided with hectic preparations for its progenitor's festive shindig.

Oslo's unhappy birthday is more like a yahrzeit; it's hardly cause for celebration with the jet-set who's who. That's why recordings of Peres's optimistic rhetoric from his golden age of Israeli magnanimity and generous concessions aren't likely to be played back for his lofty birthday guests.

This would be no occasion to give the lie to the presumption, pretense and preposterous prophecies of September 1993. It's unlikely most celebrants would welcome reminders of the folly the birthday boy inspired.

Yitzhak Rabin's rosy prediction on the White House lawn comes to mind: "In the alleys of Khan Yunis and the streets of Ramat Gan, in Gaza, Hadera, Rafah and Afula, a new reality is born. The 100-year-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict is ending."

It's not like no one saw what was coming. Some of us cautioned and warned, only to be ridiculed and denigrated as Hamas collaborators. We were unadulterated anathema to Peres's swanky overseas set, due to assemble here and fete him in a couple of days.

Even less than an admission of egregious error would do in lieu of an apology. Mild soul-searching and an admission that Oslo is dead would suffice. But it's unrealistic - even now - to expect moral stocktaking and intellectual honesty from the bumbling bamboozlers who inflicted Oslo upon us.

At most they're willing to beat Binyamin Netanyahu's breast and blame his policy of "reciprocity" for their fabulous plan's breakdown. Additionally, they lay guilt on Sharon's doorstep for not having yet encircled Israel with Wall-of-China-like fortifications to protect it from bloodthirsty peace partners.

Likewise, they assert that things would have turned out brilliantly had settlers been removed and the IDF unilaterally pulled back to pre-1967 lines. More recently it's been owned up to that co-Nobel Peace laureate Arafat isn't a nice guy, but he's in charge. Everyone is at fault, though not the birthday boy's basic conception that creative solutions can be imposed on insoluble problems; that dangerous gambles are preferable to stalemate.

The Oslo high-rollers imported Yasser Arafat from Tunis, along with his lieutenants and 40,000 henchmen, whom they armed. They imparted to the citizenry a sense of a nothing-to-lose emergency. Peres waived no opportunity to remind Israelis that time was against them.

"What's the alternative?" he ceaselessly inquired whenever challenged, insisting repeatedly that, at worst, Oslo was the least of the evils menacing us.

That was patent misrepresentation, and not only in the light of hindsight. Israel wasn't beset by mortal existential perils in 1993. Nothing mandated surrender. The PLO leadership resided luxuriously abroad and world opinion had grown accustomed to the fact. Tampering with it was incomprehensibly rash.

We're still paying for Peres's devil-may-care adventurism. His "peace" harmed Israel incalculably more than the so-called occupation he bemoans with European sanctimoniousness, as if he had become a visiting stranger himself, a bit distant from our reality.

Nothing of the sort could ever be said of our last pre-Oslo prime minister, Yitzhak Shamir. International glitterati loved him even less than they loved Golda, and for precisely the same reasons. Like Golda, Shamir made no effort to curry their favor.

Nothing for him took precedence over Jewish national interests. He never glorified himself, never indulged in pipe dreams, he kept his feet solidly on the ground and cared diddley about popularity ratings. In his last year in office (1992), 25 Israelis were murdered by terrorists. The grim tally for 2002 was 450. Our economy is in the pits due to the Peres doctrine of any deal being better than no deal.

Israel's reputation among Peres's beloved Europeans is in equally dire straits. In pre-Oslo days there was less call for targeted killings, numerous roadblocks, security fences and similar image-tarnishing measures. Oslo turned everything sour, except for Peres's ever-sparkling celebrity.

When Shamir turned 80, eight years ago, no one made a fuss. There were no ostentatious gala affairs. Naomi and Bono didn't ask to be invited.

 

LETTER FROM NAOMIN RAGEN ON THE OCCASION OF PERES BIRTHDAY

Letter from Naomi Ragen, one of Israel's best-selling novelists, on the occasion of Shimon Peres' birthday:

I'd like to wish Mr. Peres a happy birthday, and to thank him for his continuing contributions to the people of Israel:

Thank you, Mr. Peres, for bringing back Yasir Arafat from Tunis, and for writing your book The New Middle East, to convince the Israeli public to put their lives into Arafat's hands.

Thank you, Mr. Peres, for again, and again, and again, backing up Yasir Arafat each time a terrorist attack killed our people, helping to convince Israelis, and the world, that Arafat wasn't responsible.

Thank you, for contributing more than any other person, to the ability of terrorist organizations to evade responsibility, to set up shop in Israel, causing the death of over eight hundred men, women and children, and the injury of thousands more.

Thank you, Mr. Peres, for paying Roed Larson, over $100,000, a prize from the Peres Center for Peace, for helping you to get a Nobel Prize. Before, during and after getting his prize, Mr. Larsen was notorious for his wonderful contributions to our area, including non-stop incitement against the Israeli people, government and armed forces.

Thank you, Mr. Peres, for being a true quisling, in a nation that has many; for never visiting a terror victim, for never taking responsibility for Oslo's disasters, for preening and congratulating yourself on your many achievements at the expense of our lives.

Because of you, thousands in Israel will never reach the age of eighty. Because of you many families will never be able to celebrate a loved one's birthday.

Those who would like to express their appreciation and good wishes to Mr. Peres, can join the demonstration opposite his party in Tel Aviv, on Sunday, September 18 organized by opposition groups who were right all along.

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.