Today, 84 year old Shimon Peres gets sworn in as President of Israel, and he has already made it clear that he intends to transform a symbolic and non operational political post into his own private forum; if the President is technically "the head of the State," he will single handedly turn the State around, after all, he already has a Nobel Peace Prize under his belt. He has announced an "one hundred day plan," which includes intervention in all sectors of the government and the State, except ironically, the return of the three soldiers who were kidnapped over a year ago. Apparently he will leave that for Prime Minister Olmert to screw up.
Small problem with Peres: he does not believe in the democratic process. It's not just that he told me this personally in 1990, when I was working as a Parliamentary Assistant in the Knesset. Minority leader at the time, Shimon Peres told me that "Democracy is an illusion meant to placate the masses; it is all about power, and when I am in charge again, I will exact my revenge on those who kept me down."
He has mellowed over the years, in order to obtain victory in this Presidential election - he has never emerged victorious in any other election in his entire career - he at first proposed nullifying the secret ballot, so that other members of Knesset would be too ashamed not to vote for him. When the "Peres Law" did not pass, he bullied his opponents to drop out of the race before the final results were announced, and so he won by default, he was the only one left standing.
Rather than paraphrase badly, I quote an op ed piece by Doron Rosenblum from the Israeli paper Haaretz this morning: "This also discloses the degree of the Israeli public immaturity; it's need to hang on with all its might - even in its 60th year - to the apron strings of the founding fathers...[Peres] is perceived as the missing link between us and David Ben Gurion's generation of leaders; as the one who bears the key to some genetic code of leadership that has vision, momentum, authority and responsibility - a key their heirs mislaid."
I have a thought: the Jews traveled in the desert for 40 years, and when it came time to enter the land of Israel, Moses and his siblings (the triumvirate that lead them out of slavery) were not allowed to lead them into the land, for fear that the new generation of Jews viewed them as demi-gods, with direct connections to the Higher Power, the ultimate apron strings. The new nation, needing to conquer a land and create a new consciousness of nation-hood would be unable to do so if they were reliant upon the crutch of the older generation of leaders. I don't doubt that this analysis applies in this situation: get rid of the political leaders and their entourage who are so entrenched and so dirty that they cannot adopt to the new reality of the Israeli people and the Middle East. The younger generation will make its own mistakes, but at the least they will be ours.
I also dare to apply this lesson to the upcoming American presidential elections. We have had enough of the Bush family and the Clintons to last several political lifetimes, and now a new set of candidates must be allowed to rise to the top, to repair the damage done by Bush's isolationist policies and anti-Constitutional Homeland Security Act. I do not, however, endorse Barack Obama, as I feel his charisma and political correctness as a candidate cannot outweigh his inexperience in foreign affairs. It is time for governments of the world to unite, to get past nationalist agendas and work toward a planet that will sustain human life past the year 2050.