Boring in Israel – Shimon Peres


Just as America re-descovers its founding fathers, we Israelis just said farewell to our last founding father, Shimon Peres.

Shimon Peres’ shiva concludes today, but the ache caused by his passing will be felt by millions for a lomg time. You see, Shimon Peres was one of the most universally loved people in Israel. He will be remembered as someone committed to peace, and who represented the whole country.

That hadn’t always been the case, though. Peres, like all active politicians, had people agreeing and disagreeing with his policies. Benyamin Netanyahu, a friend of Peres, was a great political rival. Peres’ participation in past governments, his stand on the peace process were all controversial at one time or another. At the same time most agree that Peres helped turn Israel into the technological hub and start-up paradise during his long career.

I missed out on most of the controversy. When I arrived in Israel Peres was no longer a member of the Knesset, or seriously involved in day-to-day politics, as by then he was the 9th President of Israel. As the head of state he was committed to be the president of every Israeli, regardless of political associations–something that our 10th president, Reuven Rivlin is also trying to do.

Peres wasn’t only a politician, he was a poet as well. He also could summarize important truths into a short sentence.

He also had a great sense of humour.

But most of all, he was kind. He wanted to be lived by his people and he wanted to love his people.

I had the opportunity to meet President Peres once, and I’m sure he shook hundreds of people’s hands during that event, he was genuinely interested and focused on the person he was meeting. A real smile, and asking back when he didn’t understand my name at first were just a few seconds, but meant a lot to me.

Now Shimon Peres is gone, but his legacy lives on. May his memory be a blessing.

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