LETTER TO THE EDITOR
In his letter “Moderating figure in a troubled region”, dated 3 October 2016, Mr. Shalom Levy wrote, “Shimon Peres was a moderating wise man, advocating peace…..He was a wise father who tirelessly strove for peace”, a man when aged 24, signed up voluntarily to the “Haganah”, the militia that helped carry out the Palestinian Exodus before the state was founded. Hundreds of thousands were displaced and numerous Palestinian were killed during this tumultuous period.
As a statesman, his support for settlement expansion in the West Bank, a single most damaging Israeli stance working against every single peace process since, was unapologetic.
Peres also led the 1996 attack on Lebanon, which saw 106 civilians seeking shelter in a UN compound killed in the Qana massacre, including four UN Fijian soldiers who were seriously injured.
Although Peres claimed “we did not know that several hundred people were concentrated in that camp. It came to us as a bitter surprise”, there was a UN enquiry, which stated it did not believe the slaughter was an accident.
Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch concurred with the UN report, which was, of course accused of being anti-Semitic. Israel had occupied Qana for years after their 1982 invasion. Separately, the UN had repeatedly told Israel that the camp was packed with refugees.
In the unfortunate case of Palestinian and Israeli leaders, the quote, “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”, rings frighteningly true.
Ariel Sharon whose soldiers watched the massacre at Sabra and Chatila camps in 1982 by their Lebanese Christian allies was also a “peacemaker” when he died as was Yasser Arafat who was labeled both a terrorist as well as peacemaker.
Politicians however, knighted as peacemakers in their obituaries all have blood on their hands.
In the case of Lebanon, we will forever be told the Qana massacre was in response to the firing of Katyusha rockets over the Lebanese border by Hezbollah towards Israel, but this was in fact a retaliation for the killing of a small Lebanese boy by a landmine left by an Israeli patrol.
This story has looped itself repeatedly a thousand times over since and before, including the periodically barbaric and deadly assaults on Gaza, which Peres the statesman never once hesitated to shamelessly defend including when he was in charge of defence when he oversaw the Israeli nuclear weapons programme.