Parsing Shimon Peres

Parsing Shimon Peres

Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria wrote this week that he asked Israeli President Shimon Peres to read the mood of the U.N. General Assembly. “There is more worry than there used to be,” Zakaria reports that Peres told him.

Peres went on to describe “a general atmosphere of unease and uncertainty amid which emerging nations were jostling for influence,” saying, “I don’t think it’s that America is going down, but the world is becoming larger and more complicated.”

It’s interesting that Zakaria chose Peres as his weathervane and not the representative of a major power, like China. Perhaps it was a recognition of the man’s moral power. He has served Israel and the cause of peace for more than half a century. Israelis have not universally embraced him, and many have mocked his grand dreams – but Israel itself began as Theodor Herzl’s dream. (And in dreams, in the words of Delmore Schwartz, begin responsibilities.)

This was Zakaria’s last column in Newsweek, to the magazine’s loss, and he chose to end it with another quote from Peres: “You can call yourself a decision maker, but if you are not ready to donate, to sacrifice life, to take risks – not because your country is being attacked but because peace is being put in danger – then it’s more of a perception than a reality.”

While that may be read as an allusion to Middle East peace efforts, it has a wider resonance. Peace is in danger on many fronts, and this is indeed a worrisome time.

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