Sad Birthday, Shimon!

More on Shimon Peres' publicly-funded 80th birthday party. A local Tel Aviv weekly reports that the municipality will not demand payment from the party organizers for the use of the Heikhal HaTarbut Culture Hall - thus saving them 31,000 shekels.

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The same municipal council recently demanded payment for a reception in honor of former right-wing MK Geulah Cohen (mother of Tzachi HaNegbi), on the occasion of her being awarded the Israel Prize.

In addition, it is being reported that no fewer than 1,200 policemen will be on hand to maintain order at the two birthday celebration sites.

Women in Green, Jewish Leadership, and other groups are planning an "Oslo Memorial Ceremony" to counter the Peres birthday celebration outside the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv (Sunday, 7:30 PM). Ruth Matar of Women in Green wrote today,
"Peres has always had contempt for democratic procedures. Indeed, he boasts: 'I may not know what the People want; I do know what is good for the People.' (Jerusalem Post International Edition, December 23, 1995)... The ongoing Palestinian war of terror is a direct and inevitable result of these 1993 Oslo Accords - the worst blunder in Israel's political history... But Peres refuses to admit any responsibility... He gave this arch-terrorist murderer, Arafat, guns and ammunition for a police force, which he fantasized would prevent further attacks upon Israel's citizens... Ten years after that handshake on the lawn of the White House Rose Garden, Peres defends Arafat and condemns Israel.
"Peres' way of handling the political situation has been to close his eyes and to refuse to face the tragic reality of his own making... The Jerusalem Report in the May 1, 1997 issue reports an extraordinary remark of Peres with regard to peacemaking: 'In Argentina, the home of the tango, you know that in order to dance well, you have to close your eyes and let the romance begin... Peace is a romantic process.' This remark certainly illustrates how Peres lives in a dream world of his own. He has closed his eyes for the last ten years, while his so-called peace partner has killed 1,110 innocent civilians and maimed thousands. Tragically, Peres is dancing the tango completely by himself - on the graves of our loved ones."

The protestors will also note the fact that the government is providing resources to sponsor and organize the two-day commemorations, even as it says it is forced to cut welfare payments, the education budget, and other vital services. "World leaders and, shamefully, our own Government," writes Matar, "will enjoy themselves at a dazzling party, and pay homage to the main Architect of Oslo, Shimon Peres... The rest of us will hold a Memorial Rally outside the Mann Auditorium in Tel Aviv where the festivities are taking place, to honor the memory of all those poor souls who will never be able to celebrate another birthday."