With the death this week of Israeli founding father Shimon Peres, there is likely to be a lot of talk, some of it abstract but much of it related to Israel, about peace. Which is, one supposes, as it should be. Among Peres’ greatest attributes was his ability to maintain his hope for an Israel at peace and to envision a pathway to it; often in spite of reality. Such visionaries not only impact, but also demonstrate the greatness of free societies. Even when they make mistakes.
But the peace talk about to wash over us will be the boilerplate kind; the easy kind. It will be the kind of pap that makes us feel good about ourselves without moving the ball down the field to actually achieving peace. In fact, such rhetoric about peace can be harmful. We can get stuck in it; wallow in it.
So when Pope Francis says Peres’ “legacy will truly be honored and the common good for which he so diligently labored will find new expressions, as humanity strives to advance on the path toward enduring peace,” I sigh. When John Kerry and a thousand other world leaders call Peres a “warrior for peace,” I roll my eyes.
When the eulogies are over and we begin speaking of Peres’ legacy in prose, it will be time for the people currently reenacting the opening scene of Evita to face some hard truths about Israeli-Palestinian peace: