JERUSALEM – Israeli presidential candidate, former prime minister and long-time parliament member Shimon Peres is accused of falsifying his official biography on Israel’s Knesset website to claim he served in the military and temporarily headed the Jewish state’s navy.
According to Israeli military documents and prominent military historians here, Peres held desk jobs in the Ministry of Defense but never served in the army or as chief of the navy.
Yet under the “Military Service” section of Peres’ official Knesset bio, which is published in Hebrew, English and Arabic, Peres lists, “Haganah; IDF (Israel Defense Forces); Temporary Head of Naval Services, 1950.” The entry was first noticed by David Bedein, correspondent for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.
The Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization that later became the IDF after Israel’s establishment in 1948. According to Peres biographers, Peres never fought in the Haganah. His official biographer, Michael Bar Zohar, confirmed Peres never served in the IDF during Israel’s War of Independence.
Aryeh Yitzhaki, a prominent Israeli military historian, told WND today Peres never served in the IDF, but that in the early 1950s he was a political clerk in the Ministry of Defense offices in Tel Aviv. Yitzhaki is a professor at Bar Ilan University and a senior lecturer for IDF officers in the field of military history.
Records from the prime minister’s office described Peres’ military role in the aftermath of the 1948 war as overseeing logistics involving the drafting of 17-year-old male and female recruits from the Zionist youth movements to the new Israeli army.
“Peres never fought in the army,” Yitzhaki said.
Ayelet Frish, a spokeswoman for Peres, conceded to WND Peres never served in the army, but she claimed the elder statesman was chief of Israel’s navy “for four months in 1949.”
Peres’ biography stated he was navy head in 1950.
“Look, the man did a lot for his country whether or not he served,” Frish said.
But Yitzhaki said Peres was never the chief of the navy.
IDF naval archives in 1949 and 1950 do not list Peres as naval chief. Paul Shuman is identified as naval head during the period Peres claims he was in charge. Peres, instead, is listed as holding a desk job at the Defense Ministry “responsible for naval matters.”
Peres himself claimed in the past he served in the army. During a 2003 interview with the Museum of Living History in Washington D.C., Peres stated, “I joined the army as a private. I was offered a rank at that time, but I refused. I preferred to remain a private. First of all, I wasn’t taken by ranks, and before I knew it, they put me in the most sensitive positions anyway. I thought if I should be a colonel or a general, there would always be somebody above me, but if I should be a soldier, nobody will command me. I shall be totally independent, and that’s what happened. I was a private.”
Peres went on to claim to a skeptical interviewer he was head of Israel’s navy.
“Later on, there were some problems with our navy, so [Prime Minister Ben Gurion] made me the head of the navy – all things that I hardly knew anything about. I was basically an ignorant young man,” Peres said during the interview.
The interviewer asked: “When we look at your biography, you are suddenly the head of the navy, and there is no information preceding that about a naval career?”
Peres answered: “No, no, nothing whatsoever. It was like a fire brigade.”
The charges of falsifying his biography follow similar charges corroborated earlier this month against a new Knesset member who falsely reported on her Knesset bio university degrees she never obtained.
They also follow the recent release of a biography on Peres, entitled, “Shimon Peres,” that reveals a draft agreement Peres hammered out with West Germany in 1961 to allow the creation of German military bases on Israeli soil less than two decades after the Holocaust.
The biography also details a controversial plan Peres concocted to lease French Guyana from France and create an Israeli colony there at a time when the nine-year-old Israel was desperate for immigrants and struggling to establish itself.
Peres, Israel’s longest serving Knesset member, was appointed deputy prime minister and minister for the development of the Israeli Negev desert for the current government. He has held a number of top positions, including foreign minister and minister of communications and defense. Although never elected to Israel’s highest office, Peres served twice as prime minister, once following the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and another time in an unusual deal that saw a rotating unity government for which Peres served as prime minister for two years.
He was considered the driving force of the 1993 Oslo Accords, which invited late-PLO leader Yasser Arafat to rule the Palestinians and take over territory within rocket range of Israel’s major population centers.
Peres is currently trying to succeed the president of Israel, Moshe Katzav, who has been embroiled in a rape scandal the past few months. Currently, the president is elected by secret ballot. Peres has been trying to pass a law that would change the process to be open-ballot in a move widely seen as a scheme to get himself elected. Peres is believed to have lost the previous presidential elections, held in 2000, because a number of Knesset members who publicly stated that they would vote for him voted for Katsav instead.
Editor’s note: The original article mistakenly reported Peres’ official biographer confirmed?Peres never served in the army or as chief of Israel’s Navy.? The biographer, Michael Bar Zohar, only confirmed Peres didn’t serve in the army during Israel’s War of Independence.
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