- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A few weeks before his death at the age of 93, Israeli stateman Shimon Peres finished writing the final draft of his memoir, “No Room for Small Dreams,” which chronicles his life alongside the history of his country, as a new immigrant from a small Polish village to being a key player in the defining moments of the growing Jewish state.

Peres’s youngest son, Chemi, said in an interview with The Washington Times that while his father’s last book is deeply personal, it should be understood as an inspiration for future generations, not a memoir. The book, he hopes, will cement his father’s status as the eternal optimist and believer in big ideas and grand dreams.

“For me the book is a legacy book, with a very clear voice that calls us to see that we’re traveling to a new era … how you can travel into the future with such optimism and how you can change the future, how you can change the reality with servicing a greater cause,” he said by phone from Tel Aviv.

Peres, who in his 70-year political career held virtually every post in government including prime minister and president, died from complications of a stroke on Sept. 28, 2016.

“He knew that his days are numbered, that he knew that he was reaching the end of his journey,” Chemi Peres said of his father. “That was something that took me by surprise because I did not see it coming and personally I expected him to reach the age of 100.”

In the book, which was published Tuesday, Peres offers a first-person account of some of the Middle East’s biggest dramas, including buying weapons when the country was under an arms embargo; clandestine meetings in France to secure a nuclear reactor; the fraught days developing the Operation Entebbe rescue mission in Uganda; and his long, often frustrating quest for peace with the Palestinians and Israel’s Arab neighbors.

In the book’s epilogue, dated September 2016, Peres said his only regret is “not having dreamed more.”

But Peres‘ ambitious dreams also served to isolate him from his colleagues and inpsire ridicule in the press, often leaving him in the minority backed by one or two like-minded allies, notably his mentor, Israel’s founding father David Ben-Gurion.

In one of the tensest chapters of the book, Peres recounts the drama of planning the Entebbe operation, the military mission that rescued over 100 Israelis taken hostage by Palestinian terrorists who had hijacked an Air France Flight and flew it to the Ugandan capital. Peres wrote of his anxiety in arguing for a military option even without a working plan.

“I felt increasingly like I was truly alone,” he wrote. “And though Ben-Gurion had always taught me the virtue of standing alone, I also believe that when one is all alone, he must consider whether he is the one who is wrong.”

The raid on Entebbe was an enormous success and cemented Israel’s standing in the world as a military force to be reckoned with.

Yet Peres wrote that the real lesson of the mission wasn’t the fact that Israel had created a viable military option, but that a true leader must have the courage to see what others can’t imagine.

“It’s certainly not that daring military action is or isn’t the better course,” he wrote. “It’s that daring thinking about one’s options is always the better course.”

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