In anticipation of his upcoming challenge to Israeli Prime Minister Begin, Shimon Peres, leader of the opposition Labor party, has drafted his profiles in courage, featuring personalities who have helped to shape modern Israel. Some are more well-known than others. Peres considers David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, to be the greatest Jew of his generation. Levi Eshkol--whose gift for compromise, Peres notes, contributed much to the labor movement--was prime minister in 1967. Berl Katznelson, the ideologue of the Labor party, and poet Nathan Alterman guided the nation's spirit, in Peres' view, while scientist Ernest David Bergman drafted the master plan to make Israel self-sufficient in energy, water, and food--specifically foreseeing the manifold blessings that atomic energy would yield. Lawyer Moshe Haviv, who aided Ben-Gurion and Peres in founding their dissenting Raft Party, represents justice, while the hero par excellence is Entebbe commander Yonatan Netanyahu--""first in line and first to fall."" Through their portraits we have glimpses of Peres as his career intersects with their lives. Thus we learn that Peres was at SÃ¨vres in 1956 during consultations with the British and French before Suez; that Peres tried to mediate between Ben-Gurion and Eshkol over the Lavon Affair and the founding of Rafi; that Peres' views of democratic socialism were influenced by Katznelson. And he, like BG and Eshkol, would negotiate with the Arabs. (He also understands defense matters as he was Minister of Defense during the Entebbe Raid.) It would be premature for Peres, who has not held many high-level government posts, to write his memoirs; but these facile impressions of people he has known and worked with serve equally well to make his presence known.