WASHINGTON — In one of his final interviews, Shimon Peres excoriated policy proposals being put forth by presidential nominee Donald Trump, calling them “unbelievable” and “ignorant.”
Speaking with Bloomberg Television earlier this month, Israel’s elder statesman, who died early Wednesday at 93, described the Republican candidate as an isolationist who would endanger America’s role in the world.
“The idea of Mr. Trump, to isolate America,” said the former Israeli prime minister and president on September 2 in Cernobbio, Italy. “Shall I say, in a nice way, it’s unbelievable, ignorant.”
The interview was apparently his last with US media before he suffered a massive stroke on September 13.
“America is not out of the world. America is with the world and leading the world, the world will not lead itself,” Peres continued, before invoking Trump’s pledge to build a wall along the US-Mexican border, for which he has insisted Mexico would pay.
“Walls will not separate people. People are stronger than walls, they build them and destroy them and I hope America will decide to continue to lead the world by goodwill, by hope, and by change,” said Peres, the joint 1994 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
The interview was not the first time Peres spoke out against Trump, who has confounded much of the world this past year with his improbable political rise.
In August 2016, he criticized Trump’s previous call for the United States to withdraw military forces from Europe and Asia if those allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization don’t pay more for such protection.
“To suggest that America will disconnect her relations with NATO, that America will leave the whole field open to other countries — in my judgment, it’s a mistake,” Peres said on August 1, a day before his 93rd birthday. “A very great mistake.”
During that interview, he did not mention Trump by name, presumably to remain diplomatic and above the fray of a foreign election.
Nevertheless, he characterized America as “the first superpower in history that did not take, but always gave,” alluding to changes in policy Trump seems to advocate. “Giving is wise: You create friends, and friends are the most profitable enterprise you can have, because to have enemies is very expensive and you waste money and you waste time.”
After Peres died early Wednesday morning, Trump and his wife, Melania, released a statement lamenting the loss and sending condolences to his family. They described the last remaining member of Israel’s founding generation as “a consummate statesman, a distinguished patriot and a friend of peace-loving people everywhere.”
“With his hand outstretched in peace and friendship, Shimon Peres personified dignity and grace in a region of the world where both run far too short,” the Trumps said.
Peres’s state funeral will be held on Friday in Jerusalem. It will be attended by President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton and a large delegation of US officials; as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his delegation. Neither Trump nor Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will fly to Israel for the service.
American voters will cast their ballots on November 8.