Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Today the members of the Knesset choose this country's ninth president. He or she will succeed Moshe Katsav, who succeeded Ezer Weizman, who succeeded Haim Herzog, who succeeded Yitzhak Navon, who succeeded Efraim Katzir, who succeeded Zalman Shazar, who succeeded Yitzhak Ben Zvi, who succeeded Haim Weizman.

To be honest, for every reason why each of the three candidates should be Israel's president at least one reason can be found why (s)he should not. Shimon Peres undoubtedly has the most impressive record, a record that is unparalleled in Israeli and world history, and most of us wish him to reach the age of 120 in health and happiness, but I cannot get really excited about an 84-year old president who joint a new parve party only to postpone the end of what already was a striking career. It is often said that Shimon Peres deserves to become president, as a conclusion of a wonderful career and because - in spite of the great services that he rendered to this state - he lost in almost all internal and national elections in which he faced direct opponents. In one of the morning talk shows I heard Ari Shavit, of Ha'Aretz, rightly point out that such a motive is not really relevant, and even less democratic. I am not exactly enthusiastic about any of the three candidates, if anything they reflect the absense of impressive personalities who represent some sort of consensus in this country. It would be very refreshing to see a woman become president, and Colette Avital - like Peres - speaks both French and English very well and knows her way on the international stage, but I just don't know... Of all three, I have the least sympathy (*) for Re'uven Rivlin. Years ago, when I only started to watch Israeli television and before I got to know Rivlin as a politician I saw him once in a while as a participant in the satirical "No one to talk to", where he was about the only rightwing - and the least funny, if I remember correctly ;-) - clown on the panel. On several occasions I criticized his comments or actions ( see here, here, here, here, and here ), but above all there is one serious disadvantage that he has over the other two candidates: he is a lawyer :-) . May the most deserving (wo)man win, and may (s)he bring some dignity to Israel and to Israeli politics, for a change.

Shimon Peres ( Kadimah )

Re'uven ( Ruby ) Rivlin ( Likud )

Colette Avital ( Labor )

(*) Originally I wrote here 'respect' but sympathy is what I meant. Mr Rivlin does deserve a lot of respect for the dignified way in which he announced the withdrawal of his candidacy and his support for Mr Peres after the first round of voting.

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