Shimon Peres: Tributes from the world-wide community

September 28, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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Leaders of Australia’s Jewish community join with Israeli leaders and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to remember the 9th President of Israel Shimon Peres who passed away today at the of 93.

President Reuven Rivlin expressed his deep sadness on the passing of Israel’s former president and prime minister Shimon Peres in the early hours of this morning. The President’s Office confirmed that the President – who was currently on a State Visit to Ukraine – would be returning early from the visit, and would arrive back in Israel during the course of the day.

Shimon Peres and Reuven Rivlin

Shimon Peres and Reuven Rivlin

President Rivlin said, “A short distance from where I am visiting in Ukraine, in the city of Vishnyeva, Belarus, was born Szymon Perski, who grew to be a young man with great dreams. From here, from Eastern Europe, he emigrated to the land of Israel, and ever since never ceased to work for the sake of the Zionist movement, for the sake of the State of Israel, and the people of Israel.

“There is not a chapter in the history of the State of Israel in which Shimon did not write or play a part. As one man he carried a whole nation on the wings of imagination, on the wings of vision. A man who was a symbol for the great spirit of this people. Shimon made us look far into the future, and we loved him. We loved him because he made us dare to imagine not what was once here, nor what is now, but what could be.

“This is a sad day for the Israeli people, and the State of Israel. We all bow our heads at hearing of his passing. I will carry his memory with me, his handshake, his sensible advice which he always gave lovingly, and in particular his spirit of hope which he breathed into this people. The spirit of hope and peace which was his path and desire.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara express deep personal sorrow over the passing of the former President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres. The Prime Minister will issue a special statement later .

Israel’s ambassador Shmuel Ben-Shmuel said:”The State of Israel mourns the passing  of former Israeli Prime Minister and President Mr Shimon Peres. The late Mr Peres, one of the defining figures of modern Israel, was the last of a generation of Israeli statesman present at the birth of the State of Israel in 1948.

Photo: Yosef Angel

Shimon Peres receiving a 93rd birthday cake from members of the IDF at the beginning of August Photo: Yosef Angel

As one of Israel’s founding fathers, Mr Peres was an elder statesman,  a visionary and a man of peace. He was one of the few leaders who shaped the history of the Jewish people in modern times and contributed immensely to Israel’s success, prosperity, security. Mr Peres was a vocal advocate and driver of Israel’s pursuit of peace until his very last day. Israel bows its head in remembrance of a great man who helped build the modern State of Israel and who witnessed and shaped our history. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time. May he rest in peace. ”

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder called former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who passed away today at the age of 93, “one of the greatest human beings I have ever known: an astute statesman, a great intellectual and strategist, a seasoned diplomat, and a peace-maker. He did Israel proud, and he made Jews in every corner of the world proud.”

Lauder declared: “Shimon Peres epitomizes Israel’s many achievements over the past seven decades. He was ‘Mr. Israel’. He embodied the Zionist dream, he helped to build a free, secure, and prosperous state in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people.

“The fact that Israel has not just survived over the past 68 years, but thrived, was due in no small part to Peres’ enormous efforts. His life was dedicated to making the Zionist project a success. He didn’t just talk about peace, he worked toward it so it could eventually become a reality, in his own lifetime. He knew achieving peace is possible.

“Shimon Peres also knew that Israel would not be saved by military force, by diplomacy or by economic strength alone, but only by the combination of all three. Whether it was finding weapons to defend the fledgling state in the 1950s, or creating diplomatic alliances that were crucial to Israel’s standing in the world, or coming up with some of the most innovative technologies, he made it happen.

“His unbelievable curiosity in science, research and human development was there even when he was in his nineties. He often spoke about the latest advances in these fields and what they meant for Israel and the wider world. It was amazing how many new ideas he presented each time, how well-informed he was, and how clear he saw the broader picture of things.

“I believe he would want us to continue his legacy, and do everything in our power to maintain Israel as the forward-looking, democratic and dynamic country he helped to build.”

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull commented: “Australia mourns the passing of Shimon Peres, his life was as eventful as it was long: his passion for the State of Israel, which he helped found, as strong as his commitment to peace.

Moving to Tel Aviv with his family from Poland in 1934, he served in Israel’s pre-independence military organisation, the Haganah. Following Israel’s independence in 1948, he worked alongside Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion.

In the decades that followed he served twice as Prime Minister, including after Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995. He served in multiple governments as foreign minister and defence minister and later as President of Israel, from 2007 to 2014.

Shimon Peres was a fierce defender of Israel’s security and its ability to defend itself. He was equally a tireless advocate for peace.

He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace for his efforts in support of the Oslo Accords and for his continued pursuit of peace for Israel with its neighbours.

He remained staunchly committed to the belief that Israelis and Palestinians could live side-by-side, in peace and security. He sought to build bridges between Israelis and Palestinians, using his Peres Centre for Peace to support programs aimed at co-existence, reconciliation, tolerance and innovation.

My wife Lucy had the honour of visiting Shimon Peres a few months ago, at the Peres Centre for Peace. He told her the secret of perpetual youth was to ensure that your list of dreams always remained longer than your list of achievements. On that test, Shimon Peres remained the youngest of leaders.

Shimon Peres had a special fondness for Australia. He spoke emotionally of the sacrifices made by Australians who fell in World War 1 in the Middle East, so far from home, and he would recall warmly the friendliness and informality of the Australian diggers stationed in Israel during World War 2.

We extend our condolences to Shimon Peres’ children, to the government and people of Israel, and to his many friends in the Australian Jewish community who enjoyed a friendship with Shimon Peres spanning many decades.”

President Robert Goot and executive director Peter Wertheim of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry told J-Wire: “‘Optimists and pessimists die the exact same death, but they live very different lives’.

So said Shimon Peres, the last of Israel’s founding generation of leaders, a giant among statesmen who has now sadly left Israel and the Jewish world and passed from the world stage.  Shimon Peres was known as a former Israeli government hawk  who became a committed dove, but at all times he remained a confirmed optimist with a positive, can-do attitude.  As a young official in the Ministry of Defence in the 1950s, Shimon Peres was instrumental in establishing close relations with France, securing massive amounts of quality arms, including Mirage jet fighters, and establishing the Dimona nuclear reactor.  After Israel’s spectacular victory in the 1967 war, he became a leading advocate of Israel making peace with its neighbours, including the Palestinians, and in 1994 he won the Nobel peace prize for his efforts.  Shimon Peres personified the quality of leadership that is so often lacking in the contemporary world.  He dared to dream, and to live up to his own high standards: “To find a cause that’s larger than yourself and then to give your life to it.”.  He was an inspiration to all of us and will be sorely missed.

President of Zionist Federation of Australia Dr Danny Lamm commented: “We were deeply saddened to hear the news of the passing of former Israeli President, Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shimon Peres.

Shimon Peres was a brave and courageous soldier and politician, who never gave up on the ultimate battle for peace. Just landed in Seoul . He was internationally respected at the highest political levels. At the same time, even into his tenth decade, he was at the forefront of Israeli innovation, strongly promoting Israel as a nation of cutting edge technology and creativity. He was and always will be an extremely important part of the narrative of Israel. It is going to be hard to imagine Israel without Shimon Peres as a part of it.”

Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council Chairman Mark Leibler and Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein said:“Shimon Peres was a true visionary, a giant of Israeli politics, the quintessential statesman on the world stage .

As a founding father of Israel, his inspiring and constructive influence on the Jewish State’s evolution continued until the end of his life.

A pragmatist, at a fraught time he embraced the peace process even though its outcomes remain far from complete.

Always the optimist, just two months ago he inspired an AIJAC Rambam group who visited him in his office with his uplifting words of never giving up hope and always striving to better ourselves and the world.

At this time our thoughts are with his family and the people of Israel. His memory will long remain an inspiration   and he will be sorely missed.”

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and ninth President of Israel Shimon Peres in conversation at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, Israel, April 7, 2015. Photo credit: David Shechter for The Jewish Agency for Israel.

Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky and ninth President of Israel Shimon Peres in conversation at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, Israel, April 7, 2015. Photo credit: David Shechter for The Jewish Agency for Israel.

Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said: “The Jewish Agency for Israel and I personally bow our heads in mourning upon the passing of the ninth President of Israel, Shimon Peres.

Throughout his many roles in Israel’s leadership and over many years, Peres was always driven by a deep sense of responsibility toward the entire Jewish people. He concerned himself with the fate and future of the entire nation, but also with each of its sons and daughters, both near and far.

As he looked toward the future and developed his vision, he always considered how best to ensure Israel’s place among the nations and each individual Jew’s place within the Jewish people.

On a personal note, Avital and I always felt that our struggle was important to him. We will always remember that he used his contacts and influence to open doors for Avital around the world in order to advance our struggle.

When I was released from captivity and arrived in Israel, he was the first Israeli I saw upon landing when he came as prime minister to greet me. I will always remember him as the individual who started the Israeli chapter of my life.

I have always admired his devotion to his values and vision. He will be sorely missed by all of Israel and the entire Jewish people.”

Dr Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the ADC, issued the following statement: “The ADC mourns the death of Shimon Peres, a towering statesman of enduring strength, steadfast leadership and remarkable devotion to the state of Israel, who leaves behind a great legacy that will endure forever.

A giant of the founding generation, he was there from the very beginning, taking part in the country’s building and development in many important roles and capacities, he was always engaged and passionate in overcoming the grave challenges the nation faced. A Nobel Prize Winner and a respected figure at home and abroad who offered hope and vision for the future symbolised by his pursuit of reconciliation and peace, with his passing a momentous chapter in Israel’s history closes. Our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and the people of Israel. He shall be sorely missed.”

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