SHIMON PERES (/ʃɪˈmoʊn ˈpɛrɛz/ ; Hebrew : שמעון
פרס, listen (help ·info ); born SZYMON PERSKI; August 2,
1923 – September 28, 2016) was an Israeli politician who served both
President of Israel
President of Israel , (2007 to 2014) and Prime Minister of
Israel , as well as Interim Prime Minister . He was a member of twelve
cabinets in a political career spanning 70 years. Peres was elected
Knesset in November 1959 and, except for a three-month-long
hiatus in early 2006, was in office continuously until 2007, when he
became President, being in that role for another seven years. At the
time of his retirement in 2014, he was the world's oldest head of
state. He was considered the last link to Israel's founding
From a young age, he was renowned for his oratorical brilliance, and
was chosen as a protégé by
David Ben Gurion
David Ben Gurion , Israel's founding
father. He began his political career in the late 1940s, holding
several diplomatic and military positions during and directly after
1948 Arab–Israeli War
1948 Arab–Israeli War . His first high-level government position
was as Deputy Director-General of Defense in 1952 which he attained at
the age of 28, and Director-General from 1953 until 1959. In 1956, he
took part in the historic negotiations on the
Protocol of Sèvres
described by British Prime Minister
Anthony Eden as the "highest form
In 1963, he held negotiations with U.S. President
John F. Kennedy ,
which resulted in the sale of Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Israel,
the first sale of U.S. military equipment to Israel. On October 26,
Israel signed the
Israel–Jordan peace treaty ,
which had been initiated by Israeli Prime Minister
Yitzhak Rabin and
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize
Yitzhak Rabin and
Yasser Arafat for the peace talks that
he participated in as Israeli Foreign Minister , producing the Oslo
Accords . During his career, he represented five political parties in
Mapai , Rafi , the Alignment , Labor and
Kadima , and led
Alignment and Labor. In 1996, he founded the
Peres Center for Peace ,
which has the aim of "promot lasting peace and advancement in the
Middle East by fostering tolerance, economic and technological
development, cooperation and well-being." In July 2016, he founded
Israel innovation center' in the Arab neighbourhood of Ajami,
Jaffa , aiming to encourage young people from around the world to be
inspired by technology.
Peres was polyglot, speaking Polish, French, English, Russian,
Yiddish and Hebrew, although he never lost his Polish accent when
speaking in Hebrew. In his private life, he was a poet and
songwriter, writing stanzas during cabinet meetings, with some of his
poems later being recorded as songs in albums. As a result of his
deep literary interests, he could quote from Hebrew prophets , French
literature , and Chinese philosophy with equal ease.
After suffering a stroke, Peres died on September 28, 2016 near Tel
* 1 Early life
* 2 Ministry of Defense
* 2.1 1956
* 3 Political career
* 3.1 Entebbe rescue operation, 1976
* 3.2 Peres as Prime Minister, 1977
* 3.3 Oslo Accords, Peace with Jordan, and
Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize
* 3.4 Support for Sharon and joining
* 4 Presidency: 2007–2014
* 5 Political views
* 5.1 Technology
* 6 Post-presidency
* 6.1 Death
* 6.1.1 Tributes
* 6.1.2 Funeral
* 7 Personal life and family
* 7.1 Poetry and song-writing
* 7.2 Use of social-media
* 8 Places named after Peres
* 9 Published works
* 10 Awards and recognition
* 11 See also
* 12 References
* 13 External links
Shimon Peres was born Szymon Perski, on August 2, 1923, in
Wiszniew, Poland (now
Vishnyeva , Belarus), to Yitzhak (1896–1962)
and Sara (1905–1969 née Meltzer) Perski. The family spoke Hebrew
, Yiddish and Russian at home, and Peres learned Polish at school. He
then learned to speak English and French. His father was a wealthy
timber merchant, later branching out into other commodities; his
mother was a librarian. Peres had a younger brother, Gershon, and was
a relative of American film star
Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan
Shimon Peres (standing, third from right) with his family,
Peres told Rabbi
Menachem Mendel Schneerson that he had been born as
a result of a blessing his parents had received from a chassidic rebbe
and that he was proud of it. Peres' grandfather, Rabbi Zvi Meltzer, a
grandson of Rabbi
Chaim Volozhin , had a great impact on his life. In
an interview, Peres said: "As a child, I grew up in my grandfather's
home. … I was educated by him. … My grandfather taught me
It was not as easy as it sounds. My home was not an observant one. My
parents were not Orthodox but I was
Haredi . At one point, I heard my
parents listening to the radio on the Sabbath and I smashed it." When
he was a child, Peres was taken by his father to Radun\' to receive a
blessing from Rabbi
Yisrael Meir Kagan (known as "the Chofetz Chaim").
As a child, Peres would later say, "I did not dream of becoming
president of Israel. My dream as a boy was to be a shepherd or a poet
of stars." He inherited his love of
French literature from his
Israeli children should be taught to look to the future, not live
in the past. I would rather teach them to imagine than to remember.
— Shimon Peres, 2000
In 1932, Peres' father immigrated to Mandatory Palestine and settled
Tel Aviv . The family followed him in 1934. He attended Balfour
Elementary School and High School, and Geula Gymnasium (High School
for Commerce) in
Tel Aviv . At 15, he transferred to Ben Shemen
agricultural school and lived on
Geva for several years.
Peres was one of the founders of
In 1941 he was elected Secretary of
HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed , a Labor
Zionist youth movement, and in 1944 returned to Alumot, where he had
an agricultural training and worked as a farmer and a shepherd.
A picture of 13-year-old
Shimon Peres taken in 1936.
At age 20, he was elected to the
HaNoar HaOved VeHaLomed national
secretariat, where he was only one of two
Mapai party supporters, out
of the 12 members. Three years later, he took over the movement and
won a majority. The head of Mapai,
David Ben-Gurion , and Berl
Katznelson began to take an interest in him, and appointed him to
In 1944, Peres led an illicit expedition into the
Negev , then a
closed military zone requiring a permit to enter. The expedition,
consisting of a group of teenagers, along with a
Palmach scout, a
zoologist, and an archaeologist, had been funded by Ben-Gurion and
Yitzhak Sadeh , as part of a plan for future
Jewish settlement of the area so as to include it in the Jewish state.
The group was arrested by a
Bedouin camel patrol led by a British
officer, taken to
Beersheba (then a small Arab town) and incarcerated
in the local jail. All of the participants were sentenced to two weeks
in prison, and as the leader, Peres was also heavily fined.
All of Peres' relatives who remained in
Wiszniew in 1941 were
murdered during the Holocaust , many of them (including Rabbi
Meltzer) burned alive in the town's synagogue.
In 1945, Peres married Sonya Gelman, who preferred to remain outside
the public eye. They had three children.
In 1946, Peres and
Moshe Dayan were chosen as the two youth delegates
Mapai delegation to the Zionist Congress in
In 1947, Peres joined the
Haganah , the predecessor of the Israel
Defense Forces .
David Ben-Gurion made him responsible for personnel
and arms purchases; he was appointed to head the naval service when
Israel received independence in 1948.
Peres was director of the Defense Ministry's delegation in the United
States in the early 1950s. While in the U.S. he studied English ,
economics , and philosophy at
The New School and
New York University ,
and advanced management at
Harvard University .
MINISTRY OF DEFENSE
In 1952, he was appointed Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of
Defense , and the following year, he became Director-General. At age
29, he was the youngest person to hold this position. He was involved
in arms purchases and establishing strategic alliances that were
important for the State of Israel. He was instrumental in establishing
close relations with France, securing massive amounts of quality arms
that, in turn, helped to tip the balance of power in the region.
Owing to Peres' mediation,
Israel acquired the advanced Dassault
Mirage III French jet fighter, established the Dimona nuclear reactor
and entered into a tri-national agreement with France and the United
Israel in what would become the 1956 Suez Crisis
. Peres continued as a primary intermediary in the close
French-Israeli alliance from the mid-1950s, although from 1958, he
was often involved in tense negotiations with
Charles de Gaulle
Charles de Gaulle over
the Dimona project.
1956 SUEZ CRISIS
From 1954, as Director-General of the Ministry of Defense, Peres was
involved in the planning of the
1956 Suez War , in partnership with
France and Britain. Peres was sent by
David Ben-Gurion to Paris, where
he held secret meetings with the French government. Peres was
instrumental in negotiating the Franco-Israeli agreement for a
military offensive. In November 1954, Peres visited Paris, where he
was received by the French Defense Minister
Marie-Pierre Kœnig , who
told him that France would sell
Israel any weapons it wanted to buy.
By early 1955, France was shipping large amounts of weapons to Israel.
In April 1956, following another visit to Paris by Peres, France
agreed to disregard the Tripartite Declaration , and supply more
weapons to Israel. During the same visit, Peres informed the French
Israel had decided upon war with Egypt in 1956. Throughout the
1950s, an extraordinarily close relationship existed between France
and Israel, characterised by unprecedented cooperation in the fields
of defense and diplomacy. For his work as the architect of this
relationship, Peres was awarded the highest order of the French, the
Legion of Honor
Legion of Honor , as Commander. Peres (center) with Ezer
Weizman and King
Mahendra of Nepal in 1958
Sèvres , Peres took part in planning alongside Maurice
Christian Pineau and Chief of Staff of the French
Armed Forces General
Maurice Challe , and British Foreign Secretary
Selwyn Lloyd and his assistant Sir
Patrick Dean . Britain and France
enlisted Israeli support for an alliance against Egypt. The parties
Israel would invade the Sinai. Britain and France would
then intervene, purportedly to separate the warring Israeli and
Egyptian forces, instructing both to withdraw to a distance of 16
kilometres from either side of the canal. The British and French
would then argue, according to the plan, that Egypt's control of such
an important route was too tenuous, and that it needed be placed under
Anglo-French management. The agreement at
Sèvres was initially
described by British Prime Minister
Anthony Eden as the "highest form
of statesmanship". The three allies, especially Israel, were mainly
successful in attaining their immediate military objectives. However,
the extremely hostile reaction to the
Suez Crisis from both the United
States and the
USSR forced them to withdraw, resulting in a failure of
Britain and France's political and strategic aims of controlling the
Prime Minister Peres delivers a speech in front of Ethiopian
Jewish immigrants, October 2, 1985
Peres was first elected to the
Knesset in the 1959 elections , as a
member of the
Mapai party. He was given the role of Deputy Defense
Minister, which he filled until 1965. Peres and
Moshe Dayan left Mapai
David Ben-Gurion to form a new party, Rafi , which reconciled
Mapai and joined the Alignment (a left-wing alliance) in 1968.
He held negotiations with
John F. Kennedy , which concluded with the
sale of Hawk anti-aircraft missiles to Israel, the first sale of US
military equipment to Israel.
In 1969, Peres was appointed Minister of Immigrant Absorption and in
1970 he became Minister of Transportation and Communications. In
1974, after a period as Information Minister , he was appointed
Minister of Defense in the
Yitzhak Rabin government, having been
Rabin's chief rival for the post of Prime Minister after Golda Meir
resigned in the aftermath of the
Yom Kippur War
Yom Kippur War . During this time,
Peres continued to challenge Rabin for the chairmanship of the party,
but in 1977, he again lost to Rabin in the party elections.
ENTEBBE RESCUE OPERATION, 1976
hat we are considering really is not just a calculated risk in the
military sense, but a comparative risk, which exists between surrender
to terror and daring rescue stemming from independence.
— Shimon Peres, 1976
On June 27, 1976, Peres, as Minister of Defense, along with Rabin,
had to deal with a coordinated act of terrorism when 248 Paris-bound
travelers on an Air France plane were taken hostage by pro-Palestinian
hijackers and flown to
Uganda , Africa, 2,000 miles away.
Peres and Rabin were responsible for approving what became known as
the Entebbe rescue operation , which took place on July 4, 1976. The
rescue boosted the Rabin government's approval rating with the public.
The only Israeli soldier that was killed during the successful rescue
operation was its commander, 30-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan
Netanyahu , older brother of
Benjamin Netanyahu .
In the few days leading up to the operation, Peres and Rabin leaned
toward different solutions. Rabin took steps to initiate negotiations,
seeing no other option. Peres, however, felt that negotiating with
terrorists, who were demanding the release of prisoners, would in
effect be surrender, and thought a rescue operation should be planned.
Peres was then made a member of a secret
Israel Crisis Committee
organized to come up with a rescue plan. When a plan had been made, he
met with commander Netanyahu a number of times. During one of their
final private meetings, they both examined maps and went over precise
details. Peres later said of Netanyahu's explanation, "My impression
was one of exactitude and imagination," saying that Netanyahu seemed
confident the operation would succeed with almost no losses.
Netanyahu left the meeting understanding that Peres would do
everything in his power to see that the operation went smoothly.
Peres then went unannounced to
Moshe Dayan , the former Minister of
Defense, interrupting his dinner with friends in a restaurant, to show
him the latest plan to get his opinion. Peres told Dayan of the
objections that had been raised by Rabin and Chief of Staff, Mordechai
Gur . Dayan dismissed the objections after reviewing the written
details: "Shimon," he said, "this is a plan that I support not one
hundred percent but one hundred and fifty percent! There has to be a
Peres later got the approval from Gur, who became fully supportive.
Peres then took the plan to Rabin, who had been lukewarm and still
didn't like the risks, but he reluctantly approved the plan after
Peres answered a number of key questions and Rabin learned that the
cabinet had also endorsed it.
PERES AS PRIME MINISTER, 1977
Peres succeeded Rabin as party leader prior to the 1977 elections
when Rabin stepped down in the wake of a foreign currency scandal
involving his wife. As Rabin could not legally resign from the
transition government, he officially remained Prime Minister, while
Peres became the unofficial acting Prime Minister. Peres led the
Alignment to its first ever electoral defeat, when
Menachem Begin won sufficient seats to form a coalition that excluded
the left. After only a month on top, Peres assumed the role of
opposition leader. After turning back a comeback bid by Rabin in 1980,
Peres led his party to another, narrower, loss in the 1981 elections .
In the 1984 elections , the Alignment won more seats than any other
party but failed to muster the majority of 61 mandates needed to form
a left-wing coalition. Alignment and
Likud agreed to an unusual
"rotation" arrangement, or unity government , in which Peres would
serve as Prime Minister and the
Yitzhak Shamir would be
Foreign Minister, swapping positions midway through the term. A
highlight of this time in office was a trip to
Morocco to confer with
King Hassan II , as well as a long-range Israeli airstrike against
PLO headquarters in Tunis.
Peace is not the pursuit of war by other means. Peace consists of
putting an end to the red ink of past history and starting anew in a
— Shimon Peres, 1996
As part of the deal, after two years Peres and Shamir traded places,
and in 1986 Peres became foreign minister. In 1988 the Alignment, led
by Peres, suffered another narrow defeat . He agreed to renew the
coalition with the Likud, this time conceding the premiership to
Shamir for the entire term. In the national unity government of
1988–90, Peres served as Vice Premier and Minister of Finance . He
and the Alignment finally left the government in 1990, after "the
dirty trick " – a failed bid to form a narrow government based on a
coalition of the Alignment, small leftist factions and ultra-orthodox
OSLO ACCORDS, PEACE WITH JORDAN, AND NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
Shimon Peres (left) with
Yitzhak Rabin (center) and King Hussein
Jordan (right), prior to signing the
Israel–Jordan peace treaty .
Yitzhak Rabin ,
Shimon Peres and
Yasser Arafat receiving the
Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize following the
Oslo Accords .
From 1990 Peres led the opposition in the
Knesset until, in early
1992, he was defeated in the first primary elections of the new
Israeli Labor Party
Israeli Labor Party (which had been formed by the consolidation of the
Alignment into a single unitary party) by Yitzhak Rabin, whom he had
replaced fifteen years earlier. Peres remained active in politics,
however, serving as Rabin's foreign minister from 1992.
Secret negotiations with
Yasser Arafat 's
PLO organization led to the
Oslo Accords , which won Peres, Rabin and Arafat the Nobel Peace Prize
. But in 2002, members of the Norwegian committee that awards the
Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize stated they regretted that Mr Peres' prize
could not be recalled. Because he had not acted to prevent Israel's
re-occupation of Palestinian territory, he had not lived up to the
ideals he expressed when he accepted the prize, and he was involved in
human rights abuses.
After Rabin's assassination in 1995, Peres served as Acting Prime
Minister and Acting Defense Minister for seven months until the 1996
elections , during which he attempted to maintain the momentum of the
On October 26, 1994,
Israel signed the Israel–Jordan
peace treaty , which had been initiated by Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. The ceremony was held in the
Arava valley of Israel, north of
Eilat and near the Jordanian border.
Prime Minister Rabin and Prime Minister Abdelsalam al-Majali signed
the treaty and the
President of Israel
President of Israel
Ezer Weizman shook hands with
King Hussein . US President
Bill Clinton observed, accompanied by US
Secretary of State
Warren Christopher . The treaty brought an end to
46 years of official war between
Peace is very much like love. It is a romantic process—you have
to be living it, you have to invest in it, you have to trust it. As
you cannot impose love, so you cannot impose peace.
— Shimon Peres, 1997
On April 11, 1996, Prime Minister Peres initiated Operation Grapes of
Wrath , which was triggered by Hezbollah Katyusha rockets fired into
Israel in response to the killing of two Lebanese by an IDF missile.
Israel conducted massive air raids and extensive shelling in southern
Lebanon. 106 Lebanese civilians died in the shelling of Qana , when a
UN compound was hit in an Israeli shelling.
In 1996, he founded the
Peres Center for Peace , which has the aim of
"promot lasting peace and advancement in the Middle East by fostering
tolerance, economic and technological development, cooperation and
Shimon Peres with U.S. President
Bill Clinton at
the White House, April 1996.
During his term, Peres promoted the use of the Internet in
created the first website of an Israeli prime minister. However, he
was narrowly defeated by
Benjamin Netanyahu in the first direct
elections for Prime Minister in 1996. In 1997, he did not seek
re-election as Labor Party leader and was replaced by
Ehud Barak .
Barak rebuffed Peres's attempt to secure the position of party
president and upon forming a government in 1999 appointed Peres to the
minor post of Minister of Regional Co-operation .
In 2000, Peres ran for a seven-year term as Israel's President , a
ceremonial head of state position which usually authorizes the
selection of Prime Minister. However, he lost to
Likud candidate Moshe
Katsav . Katsav's victory was attributed in part to evidence that
Peres planned to use the position to support the increasingly
unpopular peace processes of the government of
Ehud Barak .
Following Ehud Barak's defeat by
Ariel Sharon in the 2001 direct
election for Prime Minister , Peres made yet another comeback. He led
Labor into a national unity government with Sharon's
Likud and secured
the post of Foreign Minister. The formal leadership of the party
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer , and in 2002 to
Haifa mayor Amram
Mitzna . Peres was much criticized on the left for clinging to his
position as Foreign Minister in a government that was not seen as
advancing the peace process, despite his own dovish stance. He left
office only when Labor resigned from the government in advance of the
2003 elections. After the party under the leadership of Mitzna
suffered a crushing defeat, Peres again emerged as interim leader. He
led the party into a coalition with Sharon once more at the end of
2004 when the latter's support of "disengagement" from Gaza presented
a diplomatic program Labor could support. Peres in 2005
Peres lost the chairmanship of the Labor Party in November 2005, in
advance of the 2006 elections . As party leader, he favored pushing
off the elections for as long as possible. He claimed that an early
election would jeopardize both the September 2005 Gaza withdrawal plan
and the standing of the party in a national unity government with
Sharon. However, the majority pushed for an earlier date, as younger
members of the party, among them
Amir Peretz ,
Ophir Pines-Paz and
Isaac Herzog , overtook established leaders such as Binyamin
Haim Ramon in the party ballot to divide up government
portfolios. Peres lost the leadership election with 40% to Peretz's
SUPPORT FOR SHARON AND JOINING KADIMA
Optimists and pessimists die the same way. They just live
differently. I prefer to live as an optimist.
— Shimon Peres, 2005
On November 30, 2005 Peres announced that he was leaving the Labor
Party to support
Ariel Sharon and his new
Kadima party. In the
immediate aftermath of Sharon\'s debilitating stroke , there was
speculation that Peres might take over as leader of the party; most
Kadima leaders, however, were former members of
indicated their support for
Ehud Olmert as Sharon's successor.
Labor reportedly tried to woo Peres back to the fold. However, he
announced that he supported Olmert and would remain with Kadima. Peres
had previously announced his intention not to run in the March
elections . Following Kadima's win in the election, Peres was given
the role of Vice Prime Minister and Minister for the Development of
the Negev, Galilee and Regional Economy .
Presidency of Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres in
December 2007 (audio)
Shimon Peres at the World Economic Forum
on the Middle East (2009)
Shimon Peres meeting with U.S.
Barack Obama in the
Oval Office , May 5, 2009. Shimon
Peres and the Foreign Minister of
Celso Amorim , meet in
Brasília , November 11, 2009
Shimon Peres addressing a
gathering of the
World Jewish Congress in
On June 13, 2007 Peres was elected President of the State of Israel
by the Knesset. 58 of 120 members of the
Knesset voted for him in the
first round (whereas 38 voted for
Reuven Rivlin , and 21 for Colette
Avital ). His opponents then backed Peres in the second round and 86
members of the
Knesset voted in his favor, while 23 objected. He
resigned from his role as a Member of the
Knesset the same day, having
been a member since November 1959 (except for a three-month period in
early 2006), the longest serving in Israeli political history. Peres
was sworn in as President on July 15, 2007.
Israel must not only be an asset but a value. A moral, cultural and
scientific call for the promotion of man, every man. It must be a good
and warm home for Jews who are not Israelis, as well as for Israelis
who are not Jews. And it must create equal opportunities for all,
without discriminating between religion, nationality, community or
sex... I have seen
Israel in its most difficult hours and also in
moments of achievement and spiritual uplifting. My years place me at
an observation point from which can be viewed the scene of our
reviving nation, spread out in all its glory... Permit me to remain an
optimist. Permit me to be a dreamer of his people. If sometimes the
atmosphere is autumnal, and also if today, the day seems suddenly
grey, the president
Israel has chosen will never tire of encouraging,
awakening and reminding - because spring is waiting for us. The spring
will definitely come. — Shimon Peres, President's inaugural
address, July 2007
On November 20, 2008, Peres received an honorary knighthood, Knight
Grand Cross of the
Order of St Michael and St George from Queen
Elizabeth II in
Buckingham Palace in
In June 2011, he was awarded the honorary title of sheikh by Bedouin
Hura for his efforts to achieve Middle East peace.
Peres thanks his hosts by saying "This visit has been a pleasure. I am
deeply impressed by Hura. You have done more for yourselves than
anyone else could have". He told the Mayor of Hura, Dr. Muhammad
Al-Nabari , and members of Hura's governing council, that they were
"part of the Negev. It cannot be developed without developing the
Bedouin community, so that it may keep its traditions while joining
the modern world."
Peres described himself as a "Ben-Gurionist", after his mentor
Ben-Gurion. He felt that Jewish sovereignty in the Land of
a means to a progressive end in which the State of
Israel both inspire
the world and survive in a region of the world where it was unwelcome.
As a younger man, Peres was once considered a "hawk ". He was a
protégé of Ben-Gurion and Dayan and an early supporter of the West
Bank settlers during the 1970s. However, after becoming the leader of
his party his stance evolved. Subsequently, he was seen as a dove, and
a strong supporter of peace through economic cooperation. While still
opposed, like all mainstream Israeli leaders in the 1970s and early
1980s, to talks with the
PLO , he distanced himself from settlers and
spoke of the need for "territorial compromise" over the West Bank and
Gaza. For a time he hoped that
King Hussein of Jordan could be
Israel's Arab negotiating partner rather than
Yasser Arafat . Peres
met secretly with Hussein in
London in 1987 and reached a framework
agreement with him, but this was rejected by Israel's then Prime
Yitzhak Shamir . Shortly afterward the First Intifada
erupted, and whatever plausibility King Hussein had as a potential
Israeli partner in resolving the fate of the West Bank evaporated.
Subsequently, Peres gradually moved closer to support for talks with
the PLO, although he avoided making an outright commitment to this
policy until 1993.
Peres was perhaps more closely associated with the
Oslo Accords than
any other Israeli politician (Rabin included) with the possible
exception of his own protégé,
Yossi Beilin . He remained an adamant
supporter of the
Oslo Accords and the
Palestinian Authority since
their inception despite the
First Intifada and the al-Aqsa Intifada
(Second Intifada) . However, Peres supported
Ariel Sharon 's military
policy of operating the
Israeli Defense Forces to thwart suicide
Peres' foreign policy outlook was markedly realist. To placate
Turkey, Peres allegedly downplayed the
Armenian genocide . Peres
stated: "We reject attempts to create a similarity between the
Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the
Holocaust occurred. It is a tragedy what the Armenians went through
but not a genocide." Although Peres himself did not retract the
statement, the Israeli Foreign Ministry later issued a cable to its
missions which stated that "The minister absolutely did not say, as
the Turkish news agency alleged, 'What the Armenians underwent was a
tragedy, not a genocide.'" However, according to Armenian news
agencies, the statement released by the Israeli consulate in Los
Angeles did not include any mention that Peres had not said that the
events were not genocide.
On the issue of the nuclear program of Iran and the supposed
existential threat this poses for Israel, Peres stated, "I am not in
favor of a military attack on Iran, but we must quickly and decisively
establish a strong, aggressive coalition of nations that will impose
painful economic sanctions on Iran ", adding "Iran's efforts to
achieve nuclear weapons should keep the entire world from sleeping
soundly." In the same speech, Peres compared
Iranian President Mahmoud
Ahmadinejad and his call to "wipe
Israel off the map" to the genocidal
threats to European Jewry made by
Adolf Hitler in the years prior to
the Holocaust . In an interview with Army Radio on May 8, 2006 he
remarked that "the president of Iran should remember that Iran can
also be wiped off the map." However, after his death it was revealed
that Peres had said that he prevented a military strike on Iran's
nuclear program that had been ordered by
Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud
Barak in 2010.
Peres was a proponent of
Middle East economic integration .
Peres is regarded as one of the founders of Israel's technology
sector. Through personal meetings with the French government, he
established collaboration treaties with France's nuclear industry in
1954. In 1958, he founded the re-organized RAFAEL Armament Development
Authority , under the MOD's jurisdiction. From his desk he would
control all aspects of Israel's nuclear program (first as
Director-General and after 1959 as Deputy-Minister. In the 1980s, he
is credited with having laid the economic foundations for Israel's
start-up economy. In later years, he developed an obsessive
fascination with nanotechnology and brain research . He believed that
brain research would be the key to a better and more peaceful future.
He launched his own nanotechnology investment fund in 2003, raising $5
million in the first week. In 2016, he founded the '
center' in the Arab neighbourhood of
Ajami, Jaffa . The center aims to
encourage young people from around the world to be inspired by
technology. Laying its foundation stone on July 21, 2016, Peres said:
“We will prove that innovation has no limits and no barriers.
Innovation enables dialogue between nations and between people. It
will enable all young people – Jews, Muslims and Christians — to
engage in science and technology equally."
Peres announced in April 2013 that he would not seek to extend his
tenure beyond 2014. His successor,
Reuven Rivlin , was elected on June
10, 2014 and took office on July 24, 2014.
On September 13, 2016, Peres, aged 93, suffered a "massive stroke "
and was hospitalized at the
Sheba Medical Center in Israel. He died
two weeks later.
Sometimes people ask me, 'What is the greatest achievement you have
reached in your lifetime?' So I reply that there was a great painter
named Mordecai Ardon, who was asked which picture was the most
beautiful he had ever painted. Ardon replied, 'The picture I will
paint tomorrow.' That is also my answer.
— Shimon Peres, 2011
On hearing of his death, tributes came from leaders across the world.
The President of Russia,
Vladimir Putin said: "I was extremely lucky
to have met this extraordinary man many times. And every time I
admired his courage, patriotism, wisdom, vision and ability." The
President of China,
Xi Jinping said: "His death is the loss of an old
friend for China." And the President of India,
Pranab Mukherjee said:
"Peres would be remembered as a steadfast friend of India." The
President of the United States,
Barack Obama said: "I will always be
grateful that I was able to call Shimon my friend."
Peres was described by
The New York Times as having done "more than
anyone to build up his country’s formidable military might, then
worked as hard to establish a lasting peace with Israel’s Arab
The Great Leaders of the Nation section of
The funeral was held at
Mount Herzl in
Jerusalem on September 30,
2016, with his burial place in the Great Leaders of the Nation section
between former Israeli Prime Ministers
Yitzhak Rabin and Yitzhak
About 4,000 mourners and world leaders from 75 countries attended the
funeral, with President
Barack Obama among those who gave a eulogy.
Since the funeral for
Nelson Mandela , this was only the second time
Obama traveled overseas for the funeral of a foreign leader. Prime
Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke. Among the other delegates in
attendance and speaking were former President
Bill Clinton . Other
delegates included PA President
Mahmoud Abbas , President Francois
Hollande of France, Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau of Canada, German
Joachim Gauck , President
Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico and
Felipe VI of Spain . The UK delegation included Prince Charles ,
Boris Johnson , former Prime Ministers David Cameron
Gordon Brown , and
Tony Blair , and Britain's chief Rabbi Ephraim
PERSONAL LIFE AND FAMILY
In May 1945 Peres married Sonya Gelman, whom he had met in the Ben
Shemen Youth Village , where her father served as a carpentry teacher.
The couple married after Sonya finished her military service as a
truck driver in the
British Army during World War II. Through the
years Sonya chose to stay away from the media and keep her privacy and
the privacy of her family, despite her husband's extensive political
career. Sonya Peres was unable to attend Shimon's 2007 presidential
inauguration ceremony because of ill health. With the election of
Peres for president, Sonya Peres, who had not wanted her husband to
accept the position, announced that she would stay in the couple's
Tel Aviv and not join her husband in Jerusalem. The
couple thereafter lived separately. She died on January 20, 2011,
aged 87, from heart failure at her apartment in
Tel Aviv .
Shimon and Sonya Peres had three children:
Every woman is civilization itself.
— Shimon Peres, December 2015
* A daughter, Dr. Tsvia ("Tsiki") Walden , a linguist and professor
Beit Berl Academic College;
* An elder son, Yoni, director of Village Veterinary Center, a
veterinary hospital on the campus of Kfar Hayarok Agricultural School
near Tel Aviv. He specializes in the treatment of guide dogs ;
* A younger son, Nehemia ("Chemi"), co-founder and Managing General
Pitango Venture Capital , one of Israel's largest venture
capital funds. Chemi Peres is a former helicopter pilot in the IAF.
Peres was a cousin of actress
Lauren Bacall (born Betty Joan Persky),
although the two only discovered this in the 1950s. He said: "In 1952
or 1953 I came to New York...
Lauren Bacall called me, said that she
wanted to meet, and we did. We sat and talked about where our families
came from, and discovered that we were from the same family".
POETRY AND SONG-WRITING
Peres was a lifelong writer of poetry and songs. As a child in
Vishnyeva , Poland he learned to play the mandolin . He wrote his
first song when he was 8. He was inspired to write, including during
cabinet meetings. Many of his poems were turned into songs, with the
proceedings of the albums going to charity. His songs have been
performed by artists including
Andrea Bocelli and
Liel Kolet . The
most recent of his songs was "Chinese Melody" (recorded in Mandarin
with Chinese and Israeli musicians), released in February 2016, which
he wrote to celebrate the Year of the Monkey (Music Video of \'Chinese
USE OF SOCIAL-MEDIA
During his presidency (2007-2014),
Shimon Peres was noted for his
embrace of social media to communicate with the public, being
described as 'Israel's first social media president' which included
producing comedic videos on his
YouTube channel such as 'Be my Friend
for Peace' and 'Former Israeli President
Shimon Peres Goes Job
Hunting'. After retirement, he led a viral campaign to encourage
children to study mathematics. In one video, he sends his answer to
the teacher by throwing a paper plane (Video:
Shimon Peres throws a
paper airplane in the name of education on YouTube). According to the
Wall Street Journal, his presence on platforms such as
allowed him to "pack more punch—and humor—into the causes he
championed, especially peaceful coexistence with the Palestinians."
PLACES NAMED AFTER PERES
Following his death, it was announced that Israel's
reactor and atomic research center, that had been constructed in 1958,
would be named after Peres. Netanyahu stated: "
Shimon Peres worked
hard to establish this important facility, a facility which has been
very important for Israel's security for generations.."
Peres at the 65th Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
ceremony with Polish president
Lech Kaczyński , 2008
Shimon Peres is the author of 11 books, including:
* The Next Step (1965)
* David's Sling (1970) (ISBN 0-297-00083-7 )
* And Now Tomorrow (1978)
* From These Men: seven founders of the State of
Israel (1979) (ISBN
* Entebbe Diary (1991) (ISBN 965-248-111-4 )
* The New Middle East (1993) (ISBN 0-8050-3323-8 )
* Battling for Peace: A Memoir (1995) (ISBN 0-679-43617-0 )
* For the Future of
Israel (1998) (ISBN 0-8018-5928-X )
* The Imaginary Voyage: With
Theodor Herzl in
Israel (1999) (ISBN
* Ben Gurion: A Political Life (2011) (ISBN 978-0-8052-4282-9 )
AWARDS AND RECOGNITION
* 1957: Commander of the
Legion of Honour .
* 1994, December 10:
Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize together with Yitzhak Rabin
Yasser Arafat .
* 2008, November 18: Honorary doctorate of Law from King's College
* 2008, November 20: Honorarily appointed Knight Grand Cross of the
Order of St Michael and St George .
* 2012, June 13:
Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President
Barack Obama .
* 2014, 19 May: The
United States House of Representatives voted on
H.R. 2939, a bill to award Peres the
Congressional Gold Medal . The
bill said that "Congress proclaims its unbreakable bond with Israel."
* 2015, 31 May: The
Solomon Bublick Award of the Hebrew University
Jerusalem , in recognition of his contributions to the State of
Israel, the pursuit of peace, higher education, and science and
* Biography portal
* Politics portal
List of Israeli Nobel laureates
List of Jewish Nobel laureates
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