Media is calling Shimon Peres the last of “Israel’s founding fathers” but actually, of the 37 people who signed the Proclamation of Independence in 1948 illegally establishing a Jewish-only state in Palestine, two were women. Though active in Haganah, the paramilitary terrorist group, Peres was not among the signers. With the exception of Golda Meir (one of the women signers & a future Israeli politician) & David Ben-Gurion (the first president of Israel) most of the signers are not well-known figures.
What the 37 signers had in common with well-known politicians (like Peres, David Ben-Gurion, Ariel Sharon, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Dayan, Levi Eshkol, Golda Meir, Itzak Shamir, Abba Eban) is that almost all of them are European-born Zionists who emigrated to Palestine to create a Jewish-only state. The few who were not European-born were children of Zionist emigres. Peres was Polish.
Most of that generation or their parents emigrated to Palestine after WWI, when it came under British colonial control. The Zionist movement was becoming influential, was developing financial resources to support emigration, & was conducting diplomatic initiatives with several governments including Britain to get support for a Jewish-only homeland in Palestine.
These zealots were for the most part professional middle-class, secular, & committed to Zionism’s vision of Jews & of social reality. Zionism’s defining character is elitism, a refusal to be assimilated, & most of all a rightwing rejection of the broader struggle against racism & colonialism to instead join forces with colonial powers & work out a deal to the advantage of Jews at the expense of Palestinians.
Some of these figures, like David Ben-Gurion & even Peres for a period, identified as socialist Zionists. In fact, most of the socialist movement then & now, including Jewish activists, reject Zionism. The writings of socialist Zionists are gibberish, almost a parody of socialism. It isn’t entirely clear whether ‘socialist Zionists’ like Ben-Gurion remained sincere but deeply misguided or were cynically manipulating politics to attract working class Jews to Zionism. Some have attributed the kibbutzim to Ben-Gurion’s kind of socialism but they long preceded his tenure as Israel’s preeminent politician & were part of the Zionist settler movement prior to the state of Israel. There’s a lot of rubbish written about Israel’s history. Nevertheless, it was common up until the 1970s for people to consider Israel a socialist country.
Being intent on ethnic cleansing of Palestinians & setting up a Jewish-only state requires a certain psychological makeup. Most of them were part of paramilitary terrorist groups set up to destroy entire villages, massacre thousands of Palestinians, & forcibly expel thousands from their homes & lands. Their tactics were modeled on the violence & mass exterminations of European colonialism & on pogroms against Jews in Russia & Poland. That requires the mentality & pathology of General George Custer, Joseph Stalin, Adolph Hitler, Henry Kissinger, & other genocidal figures in history. That’s what makes Israeli political history seem like a vipers’ nest of intrigues & what makes most of those founding politicians so detestable, personally & politically.
The obituaries of Peres aren’t as flattering as one would expect. Most of them say he was a schemer, an operator who did his best dirty work in secret, a guy no one in Israel liked or trusted. Some say he was treated like an outsider.That’s what happens when you’re a rat. Or he might just have been antisocial. He became a protege of Ben-Gurion in 1947 in the Haganah & remained an aide & ally to Ben-Gurion for many years which got him many responsible posts in the Israeli government.
Whether his successes were due to competence or sycophancy, from the point of view of solidifying a Jewish state, he has some accomplishments–most of them of a criminal, military, & clandestine nature & often in collusion with Ben-Gurion. Through secret negotiations with France, Peres initiated Israel’s nuclear industry; he promoted the growth of militarized Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank & Gaza after the 1967 war; held secret negotiations that led to the Oslo Accords. Now that he’s croaked, he’s given credit for things he probably didn’t do & not denounced for diplomatic blunders, like the 1956 Suez Crisis where he schemed with Britain & France to oust Egyptian president Gamal Nasser to take control of the Suez Canal.
The Oslo Accords for which Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, & Yasser Arafat won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize are surely one of his most detestable & conniving achievements. The Accords formulate the terms for surrender of Palestinian self-determination & set up the mechanisms to accomplish that. Since Palestinians are resistant to colonialism & ethnic cleansing, the Oslo Accords have led to extremes of Israeli military violence in the West Bank, East Jerusalem & Gaza.
With the death of Peres, the 1948 generation is gone, Their legacy is 68 years of ruthless colonialism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing.There’s a special place in hell for all of them.
In his later years, in the ceremonial post of Israeli president, his role was to pose for photos with visiting celebrities. It was a de rigueur moment for anyone showing solidarity with Israeli colonialism. As Obama prepares to end his tenure as president, Clinton to assume her tenure, & Peres goes to join his fellow founding leaders in hell, let these photos stand as testimony to their conniving colonial legacies..