Israel & International » ADL Blogs
September 30, 2016

Personal Reflections on Shimon Peres From ADL’s Israel Office

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Carole Nuriel
Director

Peres demonstrated “true leadership”

President Peres, was Israel’s political’ “super-hero.”  So many times we asked ourselves about his seemingly unstoppable energy: “How does he do it? What is his secret?”

I got an answer to this question three years ago when ADL celebrated its centennial year and President Peres hosted a leadership delegation at his residence.  He came into the room, charming as usual, and stayed with us for more than an hour, despite a very busy schedule (as always).

Tireless and energetic, we learned what his secret was – hard work – be it in the time he invested in work or in the relationships he developed over the years.

But this was not all. He had this optimistic nature and belief in the human spirit, combined with an eternal aspiration for “tikun” (repair).  And, as such, he inspired so many people.  In my view, this is true leadership.

I will always remember President Peres as a “learner” – he was an intellectual who learned and knew so much, who always found interest in the people he met with.

In my mind, Shimon Peres will always be Israel’s Foreign Minister.   While he did not always enjoy a positive image in Israel (at least until he became President) there was something in his cosmopolitan personality that led people outside Israel to fall in love with him.  And thus, immediately, to fall in love with Israel.  He was so proud of the country and always represented it with a smile and honesty. It is enough to look at the list of foreign leaders who will be attending his funeral in Israel to understand the respect he enjoyed around the world.

RIP President Peres.

Rachel Kedar
Education Director

“…always optimistic, always looking forward to the next day…”

Many words have been, and will be written about Shimon Peres – the statesman, the man of vision, the man of action.

My one time meeting with Mr. Peres reflects a different point of the man: his work ethic and his personal touch.

Israel established full diplomatic relations with India in 1992 and Mr. Peres, who was at the time Israel’s Foreign Minister, came to India in 1993 on an official visit to New Delhi. It was a well-known fact, even at the time that Mr. Peres worked around the clock, and after a long day, he wanted to meet the staff of the embassy, which I was part of.  He did not have to, but he wanted to. And so despite the late hour, and the fact that he had already worked more than 14 hours, he met all the embassy staff and spouses, and asked us, one by one, personal questions. He truly wanted to hear about us, and from us.

Maybe that was his charm – his direct, easy going approach with the people. No wonder his charm was felt by the young Israelis of today. He wanted to be around them and “speak” their language. His genuine approach and ingenuity was mesmerizing for them and despite the age difference, he became one of them:  always optimistic, always looking forward to the next day. Even my 20 year-old daughter, who never met him adores him, and when I asked her why, she said: “well, apart from all he has done for Israel, it is Shimon, I don’t know.”

Well, that was Mr. Peres: He was Mr. Peres and Shimon, at the same time, but always one of a kind.

May he rest in peace.

Ari Bell
Middle Eastern Affairs Analyst

“…a relentless yet underappreciated pursuit of a better future for Israel…”

However well-respected he was worldwide, only in his later years did he become similarly popular among the majority of Israelis. In an interview from recent years, when he was already President, he said that he was used to hearing “no” throughout his entire political career, until he became President. Then, everything changed and he heard nothing but “yes.”

Gratitude came late for Peres, and he seemed to enjoy every minute of it, finally winning the people’s hearts.

This relentless yet underappreciated pursuit of a better future for Israel has by now become an integral part of his legacy.

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September 28, 2016

Reports of Israel and Facebook Cooperation Spark Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel Cartoons

Anti-Semitic and anti-Israel cartoons have appeared in recent days in Arabic-language media, following reports that Israel and Facebook will join forces in contending with Palestinian incitement. Notably, a campaign on social media called on people to refrain from posting materials for two hours on Sunday (Sep. 25) in protest of the agreement and focus their activity on the hash tag #FBCensorsPalestine instead.

Cartoon depictions include portrayals of Facebook as a tool at the hands of the Israeli army and as a checkpoint operated by Mark Zuckerberg.

Here are some examples:

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August 23, 2016

Arab Media Outlets Falsely Label 1969 Al-Aqsa Mosque Arsonist as “Jewish”

August 21st marked the 47th anniversary of the arson attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound by Australian Christian fundamentalist Denis Michael Rohan. Rohan said that God had asked him to set fire to the site, saying he would be made a “king of Jerusalem.” The Mosque was seriously damaged by the fire, and Rohan was tried, found insane, and committed to a mental institution. Temple Mount

While it has been well-documented that Rohan was a Christian, some Arab media outlets have described him as Jewish and an Israeli settler, seemingly in an effort to blame Jews for being behind the arson attack.

Here are some examples:

Al-Quds, editorial, August 22, 2016 (Palestinian Authority)

“Yesterday was the 47th anniversary of the crime of the arson of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque by Australian Jew Denis Michael (Rohan). He had the audacity to carry out his loathsome act under the cover of the Israeli occupation authorities, in an attempt on their part to try to find out the Palestinian reaction, as well as that of the Arab and Islamic Worlds. This, as a step in a series of subsequent steps over the course of years – no, decades – leading to its destruction and the building of the alleged Temple in its place.”

Filastin, “Arson of Al-Aqsa No. 47”, by Yussuf Rizqa, August 22, 2016 (Gaza)

“Yesterday was the 47th anniversary of Denis Michael’s arson of the Al-Qibli (Chapel) part of the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque. Denis Michael was a fanatic Australian Jew, who had come from Australia to occupied Palestine with the objective of deliberately setting Al-Aqsa Mosque on fire.”

Al-Masriyun, August 21, 2016 “The Al-Aqsa Fire … the Fire is Still Burning” (Egypt)

“On the morning of August 21st 1969, two years of the occupation of Jerusalem, Australian Jew Michael Denis Rohan set fire to the Qibli Chapel on the Temple Mount…”.

Al-Jazeera, August 21, 2016 (Qatar)

On the section dedicated to The Arab Reality show on Al-Jazeera, it says the following:

“It should be noted that The Arab Reality episode coincided with the 47th anniversary of  the burning of Al-Aqsa Mosque at the hand of an Israeli settler who carried out his act, leaving the successive Israeli governments the task of completing the Judaization of the holy city.”

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