Dozens of world leaders arrive in Israel for Peres’ funeral
Former President Shimon Peres’ coffin arrives at the Knesset Plaza to be laid in state, Thursday
Dozens of world leaders have begun arriving in Israel ahead of the funeral of former President Shimon Peres, who died Wednesday, aged 93. The state service will be held on Friday at the Great Leaders of the Nation plot on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
Israel’s ninth president was laid in state in the Knesset Plaza on Thursday to allow the public to farewell the last of Israel’s founding fathers and its most veteran statesman.
Current and former world leaders mourned Peres’ passing, praising him as a patriot, visionary statesman, political giant and man of principle who was deeply committed to pursuing peace in one of the most volatile regions of the world.
On Wednesday, U.S. President Barack Obama ordered all U.S. flags on federal property to be flown at half-mast in Peres’ memory. It is only the sixth time in history in which this honor was extended to a foreign dignitary. The U.S. flag was previously lowered to half-mast for the deaths of former South African president and anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela in 2013, Pope John Paul II in 2005, King Hussein of Jordan in 1999, assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995, and assassinated Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981.
The directive covers all federal buildings and grounds across the United States and its territories, as well as U.S. embassies, military bases and other facilities abroad. It will remain in effect through sunset Friday.
Obama will lead the American delegation, which will include Secretary of State John Kerry and former President Bill Clinton, to the funeral service.
Other presidents who will attend include France’s Francois Hollande, Germany’s Joachim Gauck, Austria’s Heinz Fischer, Belarus’ Alexander Lukashenko, Bulgaria’s Rosen Plevneliev, Switzerland’s Johann Schneider-Ammann, Cyprus’ Nicos Anastasiades, Croatia’s Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, Romania’s Klaus Iohannis, Lithuania’s Dalia Grybauskaite, Slovenia’s Borut Pahor, Serbia’s Tomislav Nikolic, Poland’s Andrzej Duda, Mexico’s Enrique Pena Nieto, Ivory Coast’s Alassane Ouattara, and Togo’s Faure Gnassingbe.
Among royalty, Prince Charles of Britain, King Felipe VI of Spain, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, and Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg will attend Friday’s service.
Dozens of past and present diplomats and leaders will also attend the funeral. Among them will be the prime ministers of Canada, Italy, Sweden, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Slovakia, and the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany, Spain, Georgia, Norway, Portugal, and the Czech Republic.
Top diplomats will also come from the U.N., EU, Russia, China, India, Japan, Zambia, Australia, New Zealand, and Singapore.
Pope Francis will not attend the service. The pontiff offered his condolences to the Israeli public and Peres’ family, praising the late statesman for his “tireless efforts in favor of peace.”
“I hope that his memory and many years of service will inspire us all to work with ever greater urgency for peace and reconciliation between peoples. His legacy will truly be honored and the common good for which he so diligently labored will find new expressions as humanity strives to advance on the path toward enduring peace,” the pope said in a statement.
Despite the ninth president’s significant contribution to promoting peace in the Middle East, no Arab leader will attend his funeral. (Israel Hayom)
Peres to lie in state outside Knesset
Former president Shimon Peres’s casket will be placed outside the Knesset so that the public may pay its last respects on Thursday.
Peres’s body will lie in state from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and tens of thousands of Israelis, in addition to politicians and foreign dignitaries, as well as Jewish and Arab youth participating in Peres Center for Peace programs, are expected to attend. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein will lay wreaths, but the public will not be allowed to leave anything by Peres’s coffin.
The public is asked to arrive without weapons or bags and may park for free in Ammunition Hill, the First Station, Teddy Stadium, the Biblical Zoo, the Malha Railway Station lot, the Park and Ride lot outside Modi’in and the Modi’in Outskirts Railway Station, where there will be free shuttles to the Knesset.
On Wednesday afternoon, the flags outside the Knesset were lowered to half-mast as a sign of mourning, and all Knesset committee meetings for the rest of the week were canceled.
President Reuven Rivlin cut short his state visit to Ukraine to return to Israel to participate in the funeral of his predecessor.
Rivlin flew home on Wednesday evening. On Tuesday, when appearing before the Ukrainian parliament, Rivlin, after speaking about the 1941 Babi Yar massacre, concluded his address by saying his thoughts and prayers were with Peres.
He noted that in the course of his last visit to Ukraine, Peres had worked to advance a trade agreement between Israel and Ukraine.
After receiving the sad tidings that Peres had died, Rivlin said: “He was one man who carried a whole nation on the shoulders of his imagination and the wings of his vision.
He was the symbol of the great spirit of our people. He forced us to look far, to look forward – and we loved him for that – not for what was, not for what is, but for what could be.”
Rivlin stated that he would carry with him the wisdom of Peres’s counsel, “which was always given with love and in the spirit of hope and peace.”
Harking back to Peres the boy who came from Wiszniew, Poland (now Vishneyva in Belarus) to the Land of Israel, Rivlin said that from the very beginning Peres never stopped working, creating and dreaming, initially for Zionist youth and then for the State and people of Israel.
At the flag-lowering ceremony, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said he visited Peres in the hospital last week, and had been optimistic that he would see him at the ceremony opening the Knesset’s winter session next week.
“How else can you feel when you stand next to Shimon Peres, the eternal optimist?” he said.
Edelstein pointed out that Peres was an MK for 48 years, expressing doubt that anyone would ever beat that record.
“We are saying good-bye not only to someone who is a member of our family; he is the head of our family. He is a person who sought only to contribute throughout his life, and that is how we will always remember him,” the speaker stated. “Peres is the story of the Jewish people and the State of Israel, as a son of Holocaust survivors, an immigrant, a farmer, a man of defense and diplomacy.
He was a giant among national leaders who rose in the last century and an example of a proud Zionist.”
Edelstein also lit a memorial candle for Peres at the entrance to the Knesset and recited Psalms in his memory.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog paid tribute to Peres, who he said “will be forever remembered as an icon of Israel’s history, and whose legacy will continue to play a profound role in Israel’s future.
“Peres is one of the greats who shaped the face of Israel throughout its existence. He contributed to Israel’s security and deterrence; he fought resolutely against terrorism; and he relentlessly pursued peace,” Herzog added. “These remarkable contributions, as well as his work toward economic and social empowerment, improving Israel’s international status and supporting Israel as a nation of innovation and courage created a lasting impact to which no words can do justice.”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Peres “didn’t watch history, he wrote it,” and called himself fortunate to hear Peres’s vision of Israel as a light unto the nations “that would export to the world our greatest product: the Jewish mind.” Bennett recounted being moved when Peres agreed to join his public campaign to encourage the study of sciences.
Bennett instructed Israeli schools to dedicate Thursday to Peres’s life and achievements, and called on Jewish schools in the Diaspora to do the same, “so the future generation for whom he fought will know who he was and be inspired by him.”
Interior Minister Arye Deri called Peres a true friend, and a man of vision who respected all.
“Shimon Peres, of blessed memory, honored and respected those who study Torah. His warm connections with Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, may his merits protect us, are well known. [Peres] would visit [Yosef’s] home before every holiday and ask for his advice and blessing in many areas on his agenda,” Deri recounted.
National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz said that it’s incomprehensible that the “forever young” Peres died.
“Peres’s fingerprints can be felt in every area, and his many years in action are an inspiration forever engraved in our state’s history. Though we did not always agree, it was impossible to ignore his wisdom, understanding, rich language, the many areas in which he had in-depth knowledge and his pleasant manner,” he added.
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said that Peres “personified the creativity, determination and faith that brought Israel to great achievements in all areas, and he has a place of honor in the national pantheon.”
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Peres was one of the “giants” who helped establish the state, adding that despite their political differences, they would meet from time to time to discuss the future of the state, and he will miss Peres.
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid said that Peres is always with Israelis, even after his death.
“He is here, because we are surrounded by the results of his actions. Our security establishment, the nuclear plant in Dimona, Israeli democracy, our international status are all basic elements on which Israel stands, and he left his unique mark on all of them,” Lapid stated.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On paid tribute to Peres’s “moral compass, determination and faith in the possibility of peace, which are a true inspiration to every public servant.”
In every party in the Knesset, multiple MKs released statements eulogizing Peres, except for the Joint List, which even upon request did not respond to the former president’s death.
Several parties and lawmakers canceled their customary pre-Rosh Hashana events planned for this week, in honor of Peres. (Jerusalem Post)
Peres’s daughter: My father was passionate, demanding, intriguing
The daughter of deceased former president Shimon Peres paid tribute to her father following his death early Wednesday, calling him a passionate and demanding man who “intrigued” world leaders with his tireless energy and drive to create a better future for the world.
Tsvia Walden told Non-stop Radio 103FM that Peres was able to make an impression on leaders because of his unique approach to global affairs.
“All the time he spent all his energy thinking about the future of the world, the future of Israel, the future of other countries; he was immersed in it all the time… that was his ability,” she said. “And people would be thrilled and curious: ‘Who is that man? He thinks about things that bother us, but he knows how to present them differently.’
“That was the first thing that intrigued everyone, what he would say about things that everyone knows and is familiar with,” she said.
Peres, 93, died in hospital two weeks after suffering a major stroke. Dozens of world leaders, ministers and figures of state are expected to attend his funeral in Jerusalem scheduled for Friday.
Walden said her father was “a complicated father, splendid, full, demanding, demanding of himself, entertaining, a storyteller. He had deep familiarity with the history of the Jewish people and the annals of the State of Israel. That intimacy changed the way he looked at many things, that I will remember well.”
The family will sit shiva (the mourning period) at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, beginning Friday after his funeral.
Peres, who during his long career was also prime minister and foreign minister, was able to deal with political adversity through sheer force of character, Walden explained.
“He had a passion that enabled him to get through hard things and not give up and not surrender. During the years when he was in the political arena there were a lot of difficult times, but I don’t think that changed his commitment.
“Alongside that, he was a true and suave gentleman, a reserved person. And people like a true gentleman who respects human beings.”
“You know that you aren’t just living your life beside Shimon Peres,” Frisch told Army Radio on Wednesday. “You are living a full, active life and mostly of contribution and dedication to this country, which he loved so much.”
Even when the staff were far from home, Frisch recalled, “to move between world stages with him, to see his sacrifice and his enormous love for the country, that is something that fills one’s heart with pride.”
She said Peres was “always optimistic,” and unfazed by critics who questioned his service to Israel, despite being unaware of his activities away from the limelight.
“He would always say the truth will come out, even if it is only when I am 90, the truth will come out.”
Alon Navi, Peres’s personal driver for some 17 years, told Army Radio of his last trip with Peres — the drive to the Sheba Medical Center, when the former president fell ill a fortnight ago. Peres’s apparent confusion on that journey led Navi to understand that his boss was suffering from a serious affliction.
“I called the the doctor… and they took him straight for a CT brain scan,” Navi said.
“He was the most polite person in the world. He never raised his voice. He always spoke tenderly with me,” he added. (the Times of Israel)
Shimon Peres with Sonia
Shimon Peres with wife Sonia on a bike on their wedding day at Kibbutz Alumot
Schools open with Peres memorial
Educational institutions on Wednesday opened the school day by marking the contributions and work of former president Shimon Peres.
Schools around the country dedicated the first hour of studies to discussing the vision and legacy of Peres and his influence in shaping the country through his numerous positions as a statesman.
“Shimon Peres is a oneman education system,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett said. “Peres was my education minister, the man whom I consulted, from whom I learned, despite the generation gap between us, and perhaps because of this.”
“He was a man of most practical vision, a security man who strove for peace, a courageous leader who represented the State of Israel with pride with every fiber of his being and everywhere on the globe,” he said.
Bennett said he met with Peres often in recent years, hearing of the former president’s vision for the country as a “light to the world, exporting to the world our most powerful product: the Jewish mind.”
The education minister said he was “very moved” when Peres agreed to join the public campaign to promote the sciences. “He readily agreed, and as always – did it in his own unique way,” Bennett said.
The Education Ministry noted that it had formulating appropriate lesson plans for all grade levels from elementary through high school. During the next few days the lesson plans will be updated and other materials will be made available to teachers to further commemorate Peres. (Jerusalem Post)
Shimon Peres Gets Heartfelt Facebook Goodbye From Filipino Caregiver
Ferdz Capacia, Shimon Peres’s Filipino caregiver, said goodbye to his “VIP boss” in a tender note on Facebook after Israel’s ninth president passed away on the morning of Wednesday, September 28.
Capacia wrote that he would miss Peres’s smile, his “big voice” and the way he wished him goodnight in Hebrew before he went to sleep, saying “Lalya tov, Freddy.”
Capacia thanked the elder statesman for “trusting a Filipino like me.”
According to the Philippine Embassy in Israel, there are 31,000 Filipinos working legally in Israel, most of them as caregivers for the elderly. Workers rights groups estimate that thousands of other Filipinos work in Israel without legal documentation. About 80% of Filipino workers in Israel are women.
“I can proudly say on behalf of the Filipino community here in Israel, we love you,” Capacia said.
He did not respond to an immediate request for comment.
Capacia wasn’t Peres’s only employee who spoke about his relationship with the former president. Alon Navi, his driver for 17 years, told Israeli news site Ynet that it was a “difficult morning” when Peres died. He said he smiled every morning to see “part of the State of Israel’s history get into my car.”
He described Peres as a member of his family, and said the statesman chose a name for his oldest son: Ofek, which means horizon, as a hope for Israel’s political horizon.
Navi drove Peres to the hospital with a strong headache two weeks ago. In the hospital, Navi said that he handed Peres a glass of water, but Peres didn’t seem to realize he was there. Navi realized that Peres was “unfocused,” and called the doctor, who discovered that he was suffering a massive stroke that would lead to his death.
“We had an extremely difficult two weeks, expecting him to wake up, and he won’t wake up,” added Ayelet Frish, Peres’s close advisor and spokeswoman.
Navi said that Peres’s entire staff said goodbye to him. “We hugged him and thanked him for the right to serve by his side.” (the Forward)
Residents of Shimon Peres’ Belarus birthplace gather outside his childhood home
Residents of the Belarus birthplace of Shimon Peres gathered outside his childhood home to pay their respects to the most important international figure to ever emerge from their village.
Villagers in Vishnyeva learned about the Israeli statesman’s death Wednesday from Limmud FSU, a Jewish education organization that has remained in regular contact with the remote community since holding 90th birthday celebrations there for Peres three years ago.
“Shimon Peres brought pride to our village through his life and accomplishments, and we felt obliged to pay our respects following his death,” said Oleg Demidchik, 63. “We are humbled that he is from our town and we will never forget this.”
The events for Peres’ 90th birthday celebration, held as part of the Limmud FSU Belarus conference, included a permanent photo exhibition showcasing his childhood. A plaque was also dedicated to Peres at a house on the site of his one-time family residence.
The plaque reads: “In this place, Shimon Peres, son of Yitzhak and Sarah Perski, the Nobel laureate and ninth president of the State of Israel, was born on August 2, 1923.”
Peres was born in what was then known as Wiszniew, Poland, as Szymon Perski, and immigrated to the British Mandate for Palestine with his family at the age of 11.
“Shimon Peres, a Nobel laureate, is probably the most well-known and prominent individual to ever be born in Vishnyeva, and his memory and legacy honor this town,” said Chaim Chesler, founder of Limmud FSU. “We are greatly moved to see how deeply the people of Vishnyeva care for Peres and that they joined together in his memory.” (Jerusalem Post)
Australia’s Governor-General to attend the funeral of Shimon Peres
Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced that Australia’s Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove will attend the funeral of the 9th Israel’s president Shimon Peres.
Malcolm Turnbull said: “I have requested that His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, represent Australia and Australians at the funeral service of Shimon Peres.
The Governor-General and Lady Cosgrove will depart Australia tomorrow afternoon. The funeral will be held in Jerusalem on Friday.
Shimon Peres will be remembered as a truly great statesman; a nation builder and peacemaker. He helped found the state of Israel and went on to lead it, as Prime Minister and President.
Shimon Peres had a special fondness for Australia and Australians, among whom he had many friends and admirers.”
Dozens of world leaders are expected to attend the state service, which will be held at the Great Leaders of the Nation’s plot on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem.
The coffin of the Ninth President, Shimon Peres, will lie in state tomorrow at the central Knesset plaza in Jerusalem from 9:00 until 21:00, for the public to pay their final respects to a man who served the country as President, Prime Minister, and in numerous other government positions over the years.
Peres’ coffin, which will lie in state at the central Knesset plaza, will be visited by people from Israel and around the world. They will come to pay their respects and to honor Shimon Peres who dedicated his life to the State of Israel and to creating a better world.
Some of the political leaders who will pay their respects tomorrow include: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein, ambassadors from around the world, mayors from across the country, international delegations coming specifically for this occasion, young Jewish and Arab participants from all of the Peres Center for Peace’s main programs, members of the Israeli Youth Movement, representatives of communities and development towns, students from schools across the country, and Israeli artists.
As part of the mourning over the death of the Ninth President, the Israeli flag will be flown at half-mast at all government buildings in Israel and Israeli diplomatic missions around the world, as of tomorrow morning. The Israeli Knesset will lower the flag to half-mast starting today. (J Wire)
PM consults with coalition heads about national unity government
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu polled coalition party leaders at a meeting Tuesday to determine whether they would support bringing the Zionist Union into a unity government, raising suspicion that a plan to do so is on the horizon. Still, Netanyahu assured the party leaders that “there is nothing new” on that front.
United Torah Judaism Chairman Yakov Litzman asked Netanyahu at a meeting following Tuesday’s cabinet meeting why the coalition party heads hadn’t been updated about negotiations to bring in the Zionist Union. Netanyahu responded, saying that despite media reports on the topic, there were no updates to speak of.
“Regardless,” the prime minister added, “a move like this would happen in coordination with all the coalition party heads.”
Netanyahu then asked the faction leaders present what they thought about including the Zionist Union in the coalition, and none expressed opposition to the idea. Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett and Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman were absent from the meeting.
The Likud party also stressed that there were no developments, though Netanyahu has not hidden his interest in expanding the coalition.
Some have speculated that Zionist Union Chairman Isaac Herzog, who managed to push back the primaries for his party’s leadership, would use the extra time to negotiate an entry into the coalition. His critics have said that if he does join the coalition, and is made foreign minister, it would likely give him a major advantage in the primaries.
Meanwhile, Coalition Chairman Likud MK David Bitan proposed a bill Tuesday to shut down the controversial new public broadcasting body, which is expected to launch by April.
The bill will be presented to the Knesset for approval in three readings, once the winter session begins in November. According to Bitan’s proposal, the new broadcaster will be shut down in favor of a return to the terms of the 1965 Israel Broadcasting Authority law.
bill to pass, Bitan will need the support of Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Netanyahu, who also serves as communications minister.
In the bill’s explanatory note, Bitan wrote that “the establishment of the new public broadcasting body is not relevant, not economically feasible, and will weigh heavily on the public purse.” According to him, shutting down the project would save some 1.8 billion shekels (about $480 million). (Israel Hayom)
Temple toilet: Israel archaeologists find taboo latrine at ‘holy of holies’ ancient Jewish shrine
Israeli archaeologists have discovered a stone toilet while excavating a Jewish shrine at an ancient city gate, evidence that a biblical king tried to stamp out worship there.
King Hezekiah deliberately defiled the eighth century BC shrine at the door to the ancient city of Lachish, as part of a campaign to centralise Jewish ritual in Jerusalem, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said.
“A toilet was installed in the holy of holies as the ultimate desecration of that place,” the IAA said in a statement.
“A stone fashioned in the shape of a chair with a hole in its centre was found in the corner of the room.”
The authority said it was the first time an archaeological find confirmed the practice of installing a toilet to discourage worship.
This practice is referred to in the biblical Book of Kings in an account of King Jehu’s fight against worshippers of the pagan deity Baal.
“And they demolished the pillar of Baal, and demolished the house of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day,” the statement quoted the Bible as saying.
But laboratory tests suggest the stone toilet at the Lachish gate was never used, the IAA said.
This showed its placement was “symbolic, after which the holy of holies was sealed until the site was destroyed”.
Lachish, about 40 kilometres south-west of Jerusalem, was conquered by the invading Assyrians under King Sennacherib in 701 BC.
The city gate was first located “decades ago”, the IAA said, but was only fully exposed in early 2016.
“The excavation revealed destruction layers in the wake of the defeat, including arrowheads and sling stones, indicative of the hand-to-hand combat that occurred in the city’s gatehouse.” (AAP)
A farewell to Peres, ‘the most intellectually curious leader in modern Zionism’
by Ido Aharoni The Jerusalem Post
Shimon Peres, of blessed memory, was perhaps the most intellectually curious leader in the history of modern Zionism, second only to his legendary mentor, David Ben-Gurion.
With little formal education, he embodied the true spirit of science and the advancement of knowledge. He was relentlessly curious about people, places, trends, social phenomenon, politics, thought and the future. His obsession with the future earned him, unjustly in my humble opinion, the reputation of a “daydreamer” whose ideas were often detached from reality.
There is no doubt that after his unprecedented long and productive public career, which spanned over 73 years (including 57 years in politics), Shimon Peres will continue to intrigue generations of historians, researchers and pundits, who will undoubtedly attempt to assess his legacy and historical contributions to the revival of national Jewish life in the Holy Land.
Countless books, academic papers and press articles will be published in the coming days, weeks and months, attempting to tackle the question of his legacy.
I’d like to provide my own very personal view of Peres’s legacy.
I recently retired from Israel’s foreign service after 25 years.
When I joined the Foreign Affairs Ministry, as a young cadet in the summer of 1991, I did not expect to find myself, less that 18 months later, working with the foreign minister himself, accompanying him to the White House on September 13, 1993, for the signing of the Declaration of Principles between Israel and the PLO.
An encounter organized by his then chief of staff, Avi Gil, led to my joining his newly appointed director-general and soon to become Israel’s chief negotiator with the Palestinians in Oslo, Uriel Savir.
The next 18 months became the absolute highlight of my diplomatic career. I attended countless meetings with Peres, observing him in action, as he negotiated, pushed, articulated and promoted Israel’s interests with leaders from all over the world. Being part of this dramatic diplomatic undertaking will remain with me forever.
What had I learned about Peres by observing him in action? What was his legacy from my vantage point? First, the 93-year-old statesman understood what many younger people fail to understand: We live in a world where the only constant, the only permanent feature, is change.
Peres embraced change. He was never intimidated by it.
On the contrary. For him, the embrace of change was a way of life. In an extremely sophisticated fashion and with a rare talent for copy-writing, he consistently defined and redefined the boundaries of our national and public conversation.
From national security matters (such as the nuclear issue or water scarcity and desertification) all the way to the introduction of nanotechnology and advancements in brain research – he was the ultimate agenda-setter, amazingly always on top of things.
Second, his embrace of change and the opportunities that comes with it was tightly related to his healthy preoccupation with the future.
PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN, former president Shimon Peres, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu don virtual reality goggles at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Jaffa. REUTERS PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN, former president Shimon Peres, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu don virtual reality goggles at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Jaffa. REUTERS
Indeed, the past was there, always part of his thought, largely thanks to his phenomenal memory for names, dates and places. But Peres never allowed the past to dictate the future. In the best tradition of Labor Zionist activism he sought an operational position in order to shape a better future. I do not recall not even one conversation with him that did not involve his vision for the future.
Third, as a true disciple of David Ben-Gurion, Peres possessed the ability to maintain a healthy balance between risks and opportunities. I often heard him speak of how hopeless the situation seemed back in 1948, prior to Ben-Gurion’s decision to send him to New York in an effort to raise money and support for the struggling Hagana. Clearly, his inspiration came from the profound and far-reaching historical outlook of David Ben-Gurion’s decision to proclaim independence in May of 1948, against the advice of many of his peers. Peres observed his mentor and internalized his worldview.
One cannot run a nation or manage a government without striking a balance between risk and opportunity.
Fourth, like his mentor David Ben-Gurion, Peres always surrounded himself with extremely capable people. It is hard to imagine Israeli diplomacy and politics without names such as the late Yossi Sarid, Yossi Beilin, Nimrod Novik, Uriel Savir and Avi Gil – all groomed in one way or another by Peres.
He was never afraid of their independent thought, and in many occasions, accepted their ideas and initiatives.
Another aspect of his relationships with his inner circle was his exceptional loyalty to the people that joined him for his incredible journey.
For example, his caring relationships with his longtime friends the late, Elhanan Yishai and Haim Israeli, or his personal attention to his many friends from Mapai, Rafi and the Alignment and, of course, his childhood friends. He truly cared about them all.
And lastly, Peres will be forever remembered as the true embodiment of Israel’s creative spirit. He managed to broaden the concept of the “Start-Up Nation” beyond technology. With no formal training in marketing, he instinctively understood that Israel, as a brand, represents more than technological innovation. He understood it is about the broader “creative spirit” of our nation, the permission to ask questions, refusal to accept limitations, and the willingness to challenge authority and shape a new reality. If you will, Peres was the ultimate brand champion of Israel as a “Can- Do Nation,” an unparalleled motivator and catalyst of our people’s creative energy.
Peres understood that in today’s world of tough competition between nations and places, it is no less important for Israel to be attractive than to be right. Indeed, he could articulate policy guidelines as passionately and convincingly as any other leader in the history of Zionism. But he also uniquely understood the importance of positioning the Zionist enterprise in the right context: forward-looking, creative, optimistic, forthcoming, inclusive, pragmatic and productive.
With his passing, Israel lost its ultimate, most current, articulate and up-to-date brand champion.
Ambassador Ido Aharoni served under foreign minister Shimon Peres as policy assistant to Israel’s chief negotiator with the Palestinians (1993-94) and as Israel consul-general in New York (2010-16).
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks on the passing of former President Shimon Peres