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Shimon Peres
Photo by Rhonda Spivak

 
EDITOR's REFLECTIONS ON THE DEATH OF SHIMON PERES: RECALLING THE FATEFUL 1996 ELECTIONS WHEN I LIVED IN ISRAEL

October 5, 2016

 

 

When I learned of Shimon Peres's death, my mind flashed back to May 29, 1996, when my husband and I lived in Ein Kerem in Jerusalem. It was the night of the fateful election between Shimon Peres and Bibi Netanyahu.

 

 

 

We had arrived to spend a year in Jerusalem in November 1995, just after Yitzhak Rabin had been assassinated, and Peres had taken over after his death.  He was expected to sail to victory in the election against Netanyahu, or so it appeared from the Israeli media, which had a more left-wing complexion.

 

 

 

But then, something began to happen. There were repeated bus bombings and other terror attacks, that didn't let up and undermined confidence in the peace process, and the Oslo accords, of which Peres was an architect.

 

 

 

We felt the effects of the terror attacks as my husband , who was working in intensive care at Hadassah Hospital in Ein kerem, treated many of the victims up close. Some of those in the hospital didn't make it. My husband would return home late in the evening,  exhausted, with distressing details about the toll the bombings were taking.

 

 

 

After the first bus bombing, I stopped taking buses to work in the centre of the city, driving instead in our white Subaru, even though it was difficult to find parking anywhere near where I worked as a lawyer at the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. But after hearing first hand from my husband about the victims of terror he had treated, there was no way I would take a bus again.

 

 

 

I had genuinely believed in the Oslo Accords and the two state solution and supported Peres's views, but all the repeated terror attacks in from February 1996 onwards had undermined my confidence that the Palestinians truly wanted to make peace.

 

 

 

After the bus bombings, Israel imposed a closure (a "seger") to prevent Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza from entering Israel. Yet under the Oslo Accords , which Peres had negotiated, Israel had made a commitment to allow West Bank Palestinians  to enter Israel even during  a closure in the event they needed to seek urgent medical care. There were a number of Palestinians who turned to the Association for Civil Rights where I worked when they were not  granted the necessary entry permits by the Israeli military to obtain urgent medical care. I remember that we intervened on behalf of a Palestinian resident of Jenin who had significant heart problems. He was being treated on an ongoing basis as an outpatient at Hadassah Hospital, and  had not been granted a permit from the military to enter Israel. With our help he obtained the necessary approval. We also intervened to enable a Palestinian father to see his nine year old daughter, who was dying in an Israeli h

 
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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

Publisher: Spivak's Jewish Review Ltd.


Opinions expressed in letters to the editor or articles by contributing writers are not necessarily endorsed by Winnipeg Jewish Review.