We learn from Ezekiel 38:11-12 that in the latter days Israel will dwell securely and will enjoy a degree of prosperity through commercial interests categorised as “cattle and goods.” We know that God uses different types of people to forward His work and it would appear, on reflection, that Shimon Peres was one of those people, used by God to establish the reality of the prophetic word. He recently died at the age of 93 and, according to a recent article in the AIJAC Review, he was noted as the father of Israel’s defence industry, thereby contributing to the nation’s in­tensely strong feeling of security, as well as being the politician responsible for reversing the country’s disastrous economy in 1984. Without his radical economic plans the State of Israel would never have achieved its commercial destiny as revealed by the prophet.

Find a cause that’s larger than yourself and then give your life to it

Shimon Peres (1923-2016)

Shimon Peres

Here are some extracts from that article entitled, Israel Loses its Last Founding Father, demonstrating the notable part he played in furthering the purpose of God with His people:

“Lured by his grandfather and mother to read Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew literature simultane­ously, the inquisitive child, Shimon Peres, would go on to become one of history’s greatest military builders. Having been noticed by Ben-Gurion’s aides as a talented youth-movement leader, in 1947 the 24-year-old Peres was brought into the select circle which Ben-Gurion was gathering in order to build the IDF.

Initially assigned with purchasing a theoretical Israeli navy’s first warships, Peres was soon sent to New York to clandestinely purchase and ship home Israel’s first warplanes. The two years he spent in America were priceless for the young Peres, not only in terms of his growing duties, but also in terms of his education – he used the time to study humanities at the prestigious New School, and then management at Harvard.

Returning home with the fruits of this educa­tion, the 30-year-old Peres was appointed by Ben­Gurion, Director-General of the Defence Ministry, a position in which he laid the foundations for the IDF’s modernisation.

Masterminding an arms deal with France, Peres supplied the young army with its first sophisticated battle tanks and fighter jets, while creating from nothing, arms and aerospace industries that eventu­ally manufactured anything and everything, from submachine guns, mortars and tanks to radars, jets and satellites. Even his most bitter rivals in Israel admit that this industry, today the world’s seventh largest arms exporter, is, more than anyone else’s, Shimon Peres’ progeny.

When he became prime minister in 1984, Peres inherited an economy on the brink of col­lapse. Inflation had exceeded 400%, and foreign currency reserves could hardly buy more than a few months’ energy imports. The public sector had ballooned to three-quarters of the GDP and public debt had reached 221% of GDP, following uncontrolled borrowing and printing of money, fanned by unrelenting union pressure on employers to index wages to inflation, a remedy that only further fanned inflation.

Following a banking system and stock mar­ket collapse two years earlier, this was the Israeli equivalent of the Greek crisis and last decade’s Wall Street meltdown.

Peres approached the crisis in the same way he had previously approached seemingly unobtainable arms. Working from within a unity government with a finance minister from the rival, Likud, Peres secretly assembled a team of economists and ultimately hammered out with them a battle plan.

He then called an emergency cabinet session one day in July 1985, which he refused to adjourn and which thus lasted into the following morning. Ministers protested that they were falling asleep, but Peres, 62 by then, said they would not be permitted to leave until his plan was approved. The following day, it became clear that the Israeli economy was headed onto the operating table for radical surgery.

Overnight, Peres had forced the military to cut its budget by a fifth; he slashed nearly all govern­ment subsidies of food and transportation prices, thus raising prices but also further cutting spending; he froze all public-sector hiring and salary raises; he abolished the indexation deals that adjusted salaries to inflation; he legislated a ban on printing money to finance deficits; he slashed import duties; and he shifted responsibility for monetary policy from the Finance Ministry to the non-political Bank of Israel.

The results were spectacular.

Inflation dropped to less than 20% and the following decade became one of the lowest in the world; the shekel began marching along the path that would make it one of the world’s strongest currencies; the budget deficit began shrinking until becoming one of the world’s lowest, as did the debt­to-GDP ratio; the trade deficit began narrowing, eventually turning into a surplus; unemployment, which initially rose due to the plan’s short-term effects, soon began declining and now, at 4.6%, is one of the world’s lowest. Most importantly, Israel ultimately attracted foreign investment at a rate among the world’s highest.

At the same time, Peres, the Labor leader who used to read Marx by moonlight to his future wife, Sonia, sparked Israel’s privatisation revolution. He had the unions fire a third of the employees of their near-bankrupt industrial conglomerate, Koor, then Israel’s largest employer, and spin off many of its holdings. The company did all this, climbed out of debt, sold shares on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, and eventually was bought by foreign investors.

The journey from socialism to capitalism was further underpinned by Peres’ cancellation of a multi-million-dollar project to build an Israeli fighter jet, a decision that meant firing thousands of engineers.

Fears that their dismissals would touch off a brain drain were soon dispelled, as rather than leave Israel they either found new jobs in the rehabilitated economy, or combined to build the start-ups that would soon symbolise Israeli society’s new infatu­ation with enterprise. By the turn of the century, such privately-driven technology companies were the locomotive of Israel’s export-driven economy.

Israel’s swift transition from socialism to capital­ism was a smashing success story that would not have happened without Peres’ leadership. Indeed, had anyone said in 1984 that Israel would soon own one of the world’s strongest currencies, lowest debts and most steadily growing economies, and that its companies’ shares would be selling worldwide and become the toast of the leading financial markets – they would have been dismissed as a wishful thinker.

Encouragingly, the man who saw all this ahead of anyone else is the same man who said that the day will come when the Middle East’s many bel­ligerents will lay down their swords and shields and turn them into ploughshares. His name was Shimon Peres.”