American Jewish leaders said Wednesday they expect Shimon Peres' election as president of Israel to strengthen ties between Israel and the Diaspora. The leaders cited Peres' long and close acquaintance with the Jewish community in the United States.
Shimon Peres, like Abba Eban before him, has always been more popular among American Jews than among his fellow Israelis. His (many) electoral failures with the Israeli electorate have been a source of pain and disappointment to followers who admired his qualities of mind and, in recent years, his stated commitment (honored in important ways, although not always easily or without equivocation) to moving toward a two state solution. His long and extraordinary career has tracked the ups and downs of Israeli national life, and it is fitting that he has the opportunity to conclude that career in this largely honorific, if symbolically potentially significant, office. (My own preference has been to avoid naming politicians to this office, but that battle seems largely lost.) May he have the opportunity to help lead his countrymen and women to peace.