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Defense Minister Ehud Barack and wife Nili Priel-Barak with Eugen Gluck
Defense Minister Ehud Barack and wife Nili Priel-Barak with Eugen Gluck
Malcolm Hoenlein and Ambassador Ronald Lauder
Malcolm Hoenlein and
Ambassador Ronald Lauder
Ehud Barak and Nina Boxer
Ehud Barak and Nina Boxer
Dr. Ruth Westheimer with IDF band members Hadas and Danielle
Dr. Ruth Westheimer with IDF band members Hadas and Danielle
Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi with Miriam Peretz and her children, Avichai and Bar-El. Photo by Shahar Azran
Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi with Miriam Peretz and her children, Avichai and Bar-El. Photo by Shahar Azran
Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi with members of the IDF band
Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi with members of the IDF band

Former Chiefs of General Staff of the IDF present at the New York dinner are Lt. Gen. (Res.) Moshe Ya'alon , Lt. Gen. (Res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Minister of Defense Lt. Gen. (Res.) Ehud Barak, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Shaul Mofaz, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Dan Halutz, and Lt. Gen. Gabi (Res.) Ashkenazi. Photo by Shahar Azran
Former Chiefs of General Staff of the IDF present at the New York dinner are
Lt. Gen. (Res.) Moshe Ya'alon , Lt. Gen. (Res.) Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, Minister of Defense
Lt. Gen. (Res.) Ehud Barak, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Shaul Mofaz, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Dan Halutz, and
Lt. Gen. Gabi (Res.) Ashkenazi. Photo by Shahar Azran

ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES
Mother Sacrifices Her Sons
To Keep Her Nation Safe

T
HIS is a motherís story. Her name is Miriam Peretz. She was born in Morocco. In 1964, in the dark of night, she was spirited out of the country and brought to Israel by the Jewish Agency.

She met Eliezer Peretz and settled into a new happier life. Through the years they were blessed with four sons and two daughters. Their sons became officers in the Israel Defense Forces. Their daughters married combat soldiers.

A dozen years ago they paid the ultimate price for peace. Their firstborn, First Lt. Uriel Peretz, of the Sayeret Golani, fell in battle in Lebanon at the tender age of 22.

Last year, on the eve of Passover, after this mother placed a full cup of wine on the seder table for Eliyahu Hanavi, there came a knock on the door. It wasnít the Prophet Eliyahu. It was three officers from the IDF.

"As soon as I saw them," she said, "I shut the door and closed the blinds. I shuddered when they came in. I didnít want to believe it. I begged them not to tell me. Just let me have my son for one more minute."

The officers came told her that Maj. Eliraz Peretz, 32, a Deputy Commander of Golani Battalion Twelve, was killed fighting terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

Later the father Eliezer, unable to bear another loss, died of a broken heart.

So Miriam sacrificed for peace a second time. As a result her next two sons were exempt from combat service. But they wouldnít think of it.

"They saw it as a mitzvah," Miriam said. "I signed the papers to permit them to become soldiers to protect our homeland. My sons were always first in line. They always did what needed to be done."

With tears clouding her vision Miriam added, "Itís not fair for a mother to have to bury two of her sons. These are not choices a mother should have to make ó which grave to visit first, that of my firstborn where the earth is old, or that of my younger son where the ground is still fresh.

"I pray to God to allow me to see my grandchildren grow up. "

There wasnít a dry eye among the 1,450 guests at the 30th annual dinner for the Friends of the IDF on March 22 in the Waldorf-Astoria as they listened to the motherís story. One by one they rose to pledge a total of $23.4 million for the spiritual and physical welfare of the soldiers of Israel.

Among the dinner guests were philanthropist Eugen Gluck; Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Organizations; Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founding president of International Fellowship of Christians and Jews who pledged $8.5 million; Joshua Matza, president and CEO of Israel Bonds; Ambassador Ronald Lauder; Israeli Ambassador to UN Meron Reuben; Pastor C. Hagee of Christians United for Israel, and Elias Kalimian of the Iranian-Jewish community in Great Neck, N.Y., who donated $1 million.

Benny Shabtai, dinner chairman for the 15th year, talked with Benjamin Netanyahu on video. The Prime Minister said that while he hoped for the best transformation of the Middle East from the current turmoil, Lebanon hasnít turned into a democratic state, but a Hezbollah state. "Thatís why we pursue peace but insist on security."

Serving as emcee, Monica Crowley, a panelist on the McLaughlin Group and Fox News contributor, interviewed a tank crew member, Omer Cohen, in Israel by live satellite.

Cohen told how he spotted a missile streaking toward his Merkava earlier this month. He immediately engaged the tankís new Active Defense System and blasted the incoming missile out of the sky. He saved the lives of the four men in his tank.

"We deployed that new system for the first time," Cohen said. "Itís an amazing system. It made my mother happy."

Cohen said heís an American who came to Israel at age 27 and was drafted. "Iím an old man among my peers, who are all 18 or 19."

On stage Crowley interviewed Capt. Neta Gery. She is the first female doctor accepted into the infantry ó after carrying 55 pounds of equipment on a 28-mile hike.

Dr. Gery said she saw an Arab approach a checkpoint outside Ramallah. He was having a heart attack. Asked why he didnít go to the hospital in Ramallah, the man said he didnít have the money. He went to the checkpoint because he knew the IDF doctor would take care of him. Dr. Gery saved his life.

The keynote speaker, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, told about three brothers from a religious family that came from Johannesburg.

The three sons became officers in the army. Major Adam Weiler fought in the War of Attrition and was killed in his tank along the Suez Canal. In the Yom Kippur War the younger brother, Major Gideon Weiler, rejected orders to stay far from the front and joined a tank battalion in the north. He was killed as he was leading his soldiers.

"I was shocked to hear the news of Gideonís death because the third brother had volunteered to the tank battalion that I was commanding. I was forced to relieve him."

That third brother, Josef Weiler, is now a scholar of international law. He was at the dinner with his daughters.

"The spirit of the Weilers is the fighting spirit of the IDF, Israel and the united Jewish people," Barak said.

With wife Nili in the middle, Ehud Barak gets an earful from Gabriel Erem, publisher of Lifestyles magazine, but they end their pow-wow cheerfully. With wife Nili in the middle, Ehud Barak gets an earful from Gabriel Erem, publisher of Lifestyles magazine, but they end their pow-wow cheerfully. With wife Nili in the middle, Ehud Barak gets an earful from Gabriel Erem, publisher of Lifestyles magazine, but they end their pow-wow cheerfully.
With wife Nili in the middle, Ehud Barak gets an earful from Gabriel Erem, publisher of Lifestyles magazine, but they end their pow-wow cheerfully.

 

 

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