The Man Behind Iron Dome

Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz at a weekly Cabinet meeting on April 29, 2007, in Jerusalem. (Yoav Lemmer/Getty Images)

In the days since Operation Pillar of Defense ended, there’s been much talk of Israel’s Iron Dome antimissile defense system—which chalked up an 84-percent success rate—as the breakout star of the mini-war. This defensive system is more than a pyrotechnic wonder: It represents the success of a paradigmatic shift in Israeli military thinking. Over the last decade, the IDF’s leadership, traditionally focused on offensive strategies, gradually invested in defensive systems. If deployed wisely, these defensive systems—including the Arrow antimissile system, which defends against long-range missiles; and David’s Sling, which is intended to protect against medium-range missiles—could also prove to be a political game-changer for Israel and enemies like Hamas and Hezbollah.

So, you would think that the man responsible for pushing Iron Dome through a resistant Israeli military and political establishment would be regarded as nothing less than a national hero. But until very recently, Amir Peretz, defense minister from 2006-2007, was largely regarded as clueless, undeserving of the post, and most famous for a photograph in which he viewed IDF troops in the Golan Heights through binoculars with the lens cap on. Peretz, 60, who last week placed third in the Labor Party’s primaries for the upcoming general elections, is finally being celebrated for his foresight. “I guess I could see more with those closed binoculars than a lot of those generals could see,” Peretz said in a recent interview....

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