The significance of the incident last week in which DM Amir Peretz went through the motions of appearing to follow a briefing of a large military exercise with field glasses – when he actually could not see since there were caps on the binoculars, is that he apparently lacked the self confidence to tell anyone that there was a problem.
If Peretz was too embarrassed to tell someone that the binoculars weren’t working what else has he been too embarrassed to say anything about? Does this make him a DM who can be easily snowballed? How effective can a DM be if he is too embarrassed to tell the people on his team when he can’t see what is going on?
This author agrees in large part with Aaron Lerner, but also, to the extent that the Ashkenaz vs Sefardi “ethnic demon” still exists, this author sees what would be Gideon Levy’s points were he truly concerned about ethnic equality. But the point of Levy’s Column is blatantly political — that Peretz is an abject failure, not because he has no clue as to the national defense, not because he was incompetent and incapable of providing leadership in war-time, not because he chose not to re-make himself, not because of accusations that he is “stealing the Labor Party” again because he took the initiative to sign-up and load up the Party with more members than anyone else brought in (never mind that all of them were his Histadrut cronies and lackies and never mind that loading up a political party with your devotees is how political democracy in Israel currently works). In true Haaretz form, the point of Levi’s attack on Peretz is summed up in one sentence hidden within all of the ethnic gooble d’gook. Levy’s attack upon Peretz is purely because so far, “since he was appointed, Peretz has not done a thing to advance peace, uproot settlements or even significantly ease the occupation.” In fact, Levi should now be in lock-step with Peretz’s plans for using “‘full force’ to crush hilltop communities.”
To close, Gideon Levy appears journalistically guilty, regarding the Jews of Yehuda and the Shomron, of what David Wilder recently characterized as Israeli Apartheid; “defined at dictionary. com as ‘any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.’ In our case, the ‘etc.’ relates to where people live and what they believe.” MB
The entire binocular gaffe episode points up Peretz’s complete incompetence in any other role than that of Uncle Joe — the Histadrut bully. And it conjures up in this author’s mind, comparison with that all-time American political campaign gaffe as pictured below. MB
Peretz’s Binoculars, by Gideon Levy (Haaretz)
Does the defense minister deserve such heaps of ridicule? Do we similarly disparage other leaders who are no lesser failures – the prime minister, for example? The main reason for the mockery – to be distinguished from legitimate, deserved criticism – is rooted in dark places: The problem is in our bigoted binoculars.
Peretz has failed as defense minister so far: He led the Israel Defense Forces into the most unnecessary war in Israel’s history. He is not the only one to blame, and certainly not the first. The prime minister and chief of staff are more responsible, but no one ridicules them. Peretz is also justifiably an object of unprecedented disappointment for the left: Nothing remains of the Peace Now man we knew. Since he was appointed, Peretz has not done a thing to advance peace, uproot settlements or even significantly ease the occupation. But the left is not leading the mudslinging campaign against him. Rather, it is coming from other circles – his party, Kadima and the IDF. But they have nothing to complain about. Unfortunately, Peretz is no different from them.
Besides this futile war, it is hard to distinguish errors Peretz has made, only a lack of bold decisions. But, as noted, they are not attacking him for this. The insecurity and inexperience that characterized him at the beginning of his term are disappearing, and he succeeded in appointing a chief of staff to his liking. He is given no credit for being one of the only top figures who is not under criminal investigation, or for the fact that he lives in Sderot, far from the web of capital and power. We still prefer the fluent macho with the cigar, even if he is corrupt, to the inarticulate labor leader.
The dirty campaign being waged against Peretz originates from the prime minister’s bureau, his party colleagues and the IDF. At the end of the week, some in the Labor Party were already warning that Peretz “is stealing the party again.” Stealing the party? In what way did he sin? That he succeeded in signing up 25,000 members? Aren’t these the rules of the game? But in Peretz’s case, it is permitted to call him a thief. Would people be complaining like this about Ami Ayalon or Ophir Pines-Paz if they had succeeded in recruiting a similar number of people? The ridicule by the top IDF brass is infuriating: Before slandering the defense minister, the generals should first complete the reforms needed in the IDF. He “does not understand security”? And what about their ongoing failures? Peretz is certainly not responsible for the army’s situation, which became apparent during the war and is evident daily in the occupied territories.
Indeed, let’s call a spade a spade: The mockery of Peretz derives from racism. There is no other way to explain the systematic ridicule of his character: his English, his awkward pinning of ranks on the chief of staff, and the covered binoculars. This could happen to anyone, but we laugh at him. So let’s remove the mask: Unlike many Mizrahim, Peretz remains a Moroccan who did not become Ashkenazi in his personality, mustache, mannerisms, diction or place of residence. Unfortunately, he discarded the mantle of the man of peace from Sderot, but he never switched the mantle of his ethnic origin. And he is paying for this now. The problem does not lie in his binoculars, but rather in our binoculars. The ethnic demon is still here, alive and kicking, this time at Amir Peretz.