Shimon Peres /ʃɪˈmoʊn ˈpɛrɪs/; (Hebrew: שמעון
פרס, listen (help·info); born Szymon Perski; August
2, 1923 – September 28, 2016) was an Israeli politician who served
both as ninth
President of Israel
President of Israel (2007–2014), and twice Prime
Minister of Israel, as well as Interim Prime Minister, in the 1970s to
the 1990s. He was a member of twelve cabinets and represented five
political parties in a political career spanning 70 years. Peres
was elected to the
Knesset in November 1959 and, except for a
three-month-long hiatus in early 2006, was in office continuously
until he was elected President in 2007. At the time of his retirement
in 2014, he was the world's oldest head of state, and was considered
the last link to Israel's founding generation.
From a young age, he was renowned for his oratorical brilliance, and
was chosen as a protégé by 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
the 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 of statesmanship". 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. Peres represented Mapai, Rafi, the Alignment,
Kadima in the Knesset, and led Alignment and Labor.
Peres first succeeded
Yitzhak Rabin as
Acting Prime Minister briefly
during 1977, before becoming Prime Minister from 1984 to 1986. As
Foreign Minister under Prime Minister Rabin, Peres engineered the 1994
Jordan peace treaty, and won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize
together with Rabin and
Yasser Arafat for the
Oslo Accords peace talks
with the Palestinian leadership. In 1996, he founded the Peres
Center for Peace, which has the aim of "promot[ing] lasting peace and
advancement in the Middle East by fostering tolerance, economic and
technological development, cooperation and well-being." After
suffering a stroke, Peres died on September 28, 2016 near Tel
Peres was a 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.
1 Early life
2 Ministry of Defense
2.1 1956 Suez Crisis
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
3.4 Support for Sharon and joining Kadima
4 Presidency: 2007–2014
5 Political views
6 Post-presidency and death
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
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 first cousin of American film star Lauren
Bacall (born Betty Joan Perske).
Shimon Peres (standing, third from right) with his family, ca. 1930
Peres told Rabbi
Menachem Mendel Schneerson
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 Talmud. 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
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 maternal grandfather.
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
in 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
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 planned by Palmach
head 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 Basel.
In 1947, Peres joined the Haganah, the predecessor of the Israel
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
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
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
1956 Suez Crisis
Main article: 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 that
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, as Commander.
Peres (center) with
Ezer Weizman and King
Mahendra of Nepal
Mahendra of Nepal in 1958
At 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 with
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. 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
[W]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
Peres then organized a secret
Israel Crisis Committee 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 of
Jordan (right), prior to signing the Israel–
Jordan peace treaty.
Shimon Peres and
Yasser Arafat receiving the 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 (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 annual
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
Israel and Jordan.
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
Israel in response to the killing of two Lebanese by an IDF
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[ing] lasting peace and advancement in the Middle East by
fostering tolerance, economic and technological development,
cooperation and well-being."
Shimon Peres with U.S. President
Bill Clinton at the White House,
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
passed to 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.
Main article: Presidency of Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres in December 2007 (audio)
Shimon Peres at the
World Economic Forum
World Economic Forum on the Middle East (2009)
Shimon Peres meeting with U.S. President
Barack Obama in the Oval
Office, May 5, 2009.
Shimon Peres and the Foreign Minister of Brazil, Celso Amorim, meet in
Brasília, November 11, 2009
Shimon Peres addressing a gathering of the
World Jewish Congress
World Jewish Congress in
On June 13, 2007 Peres was elected President of the State of
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
Order of St Michael and St George from Queen
Elizabeth II in
Buckingham Palace in London.
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 Israel
was a means to a progressive end in which the State of
inspire the world and survive in a region of the world where it was
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
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
Minister, 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
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
Israel innovation 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."
Post-presidency and death
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.
In July 2016, Peres founded the '
Israel innovation center' in the Arab
neighbourhood of Ajami, Jaffa, aiming to encourage young people from
around the world to be inspired by technology.
On September 13, 2016, Peres, aged 93, suffered a severe stroke and
was hospitalized at Sheba Medical Center. His condition was reported
to be very serious, as he had suffered a massive brain hemorrhage and
significant bleeding. Two days later, he was reported as being in
a serious but stable condition. However, on September 26, an
examination found irreversible damage to his brainstem, indicating
that it was not possible for him to recover, and the following day,
his medical condition deteriorated significantly. He died on
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
The New York Times as having done "more than
anyone to build up his country’s formidable military might, then
[having] worked as hard to establish a lasting peace with Israel’s
The Great Leaders of the Nation section of Mount Herzl
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 Minister
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
Justin Trudeau of Canada, German President Joachim Gauck,
Enrique Peña Nieto
Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and King Felipe VI of
Spain. The UK delegation included Prince Charles, Foreign
Secretary Boris Johnson, former Prime Ministers David Cameron, Gordon
Brown, and Tony Blair, and Britain's chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.
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 apartment in
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 at
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
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 Melody' on YouTube).
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 Snapchat, allowed him to "pack more punch—and humor—into the
causes he championed, especially peaceful coexistence with the
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
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
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
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 and
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
Presidential Medal of Freedom from US President Barack
2014, 19 May: The
United States House of Representatives
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
2015, 31 May: The
Solomon Bublick Award of the Hebrew University of
Jerusalem, in recognition of his contributions to the State of Israel,
the pursuit of peace, higher education, and science and
List of Israeli Nobel laureates
List of Jewish Nobel laureates
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Shimon Peres laid the foundation for Start-up Nation By NIV
Jerusalem Post, Sep 29, 2016
^ My Word: Memories of reporting on the life and times of Shimon
Peres. By LIAT COLLINS,
Jerusalem Post, Sep 15, 2016
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Shimon Peres Canadian Press, By Diana Mehta, September 5, 2012
Nanotechnology Fund Starts Off With $5 Million Oded Hermon
July 6, 2003, Haaretz
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Israel tech, spark dreams Times of
Israel, July 21, 2016
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Israel tech, spark dreams BY SHOSHANNA
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^ Condolences on the death of
Shimon Peres September 28, 2016 10:55
^ Chinese President
Xi Jinping expressed condolences to Israeli
President following the death of
Shimon Peres French.xinhuanet.com,
Posted on 2016-09-28
Shimon Peres was a steadfast friend of India
thestatesman.com/Agencies, New Delhi, September 28, 2016
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Jerusalem Post article on Sonya
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Jerusalem Post, October 28, 2008
Shimon Peres Writes a Song to Celebrate Chinese New Year Reuters,
Haaretz, February 8, 2016
^ a b c Shimon Peres: Israel’s first social media president by
Esther D. Kustanowitz, Jewish Journal, September 28, 2016
Shimon Peres throws a paper airplane in the name of education
By SHARON UDASIN, 08/30/2015,
^ In his 90s,
Shimon Peres Became Social Media Star By RORY JONES
September 28, 2016, Wall Street Journal
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Official Israeli Presidency website
Shimon Peres on the
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The day Peres became a Sheikh!(in Persian)
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Biography at the Encyclopædia Britannica
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Shimon Peres biography at the Jewish Virtual Library
Appearances on C-SPAN
Shimon Peres on Charlie Rose
Column archive at The Guardian
Shimon Peres collected news and commentary at Ha'aretz
Shimon Peres collected news and commentary at The
Shimon Peres collected news and commentary". The New York
BBC – Sharon seals new
Peres's metaphysical propensity to lose by Matthew Wagner, published
Jerusalem Post, November 10, 2005.
Former Labor Leader
Shimon Peres Heading For Sharon's new party –
recorded Report from IsraCast.
Shimon Peres speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations about the
Israel/Lebanon conflict on July 31, 2006
Shimon Peres speaks at Cornell University – "A Conversation with
"Presidency rounds off 66-year career" by Amiram Barkat, Haaretz
President Peres' address to the 63rd session of the United Nations
General Assembly, September 24, 2008
Segment Interview on
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Full Interview on
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Party political offices
Leader of the Alignment
Leader of the Labor Party
Leader of the Labor Party
Prime Minister of Israel
Prime Minister of Israel
Prime Minister of Israel
President of Israel
Israel Aerospace Industries
Dabur-class patrol boat
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Israel Aerospace Industries Tamam Division
Yitzhak Ben Yisrael
Israeli Nobel laureates
Shmuel Yosef Agnon
Shmuel Yosef Agnon (Literature)
Menachem Begin (Peace)
Shimon Peres /
Yitzhak Rabin (Peace)
Daniel Kahneman (Economics)
Aaron Ciechanover /
Avram Hershko (Chemistry)
Robert Aumann (Economics)
Ada Yonath (Chemistry)
Dan Shechtman (Chemistry)
Michael Levitt /
Arieh Warshel (Chemistry)
Italics indicate a Nobel Memorial Prize, i.e. not one of the original
Prizes bequested by Alfred Nobel.
Laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize
1901 Henry Dunant / Frédéric Passy
1902 Élie Ducommun / Charles Gobat
1903 Randal Cremer
1904 Institut de Droit International
1905 Bertha von Suttner
1906 Theodore Roosevelt
1907 Ernesto Moneta / Louis Renault
1908 Klas Arnoldson / Fredrik Bajer
1909 A. M. F. Beernaert / Paul Estournelles de Constant
1910 International Peace Bureau
1911 Tobias Asser / Alfred Fried
1912 Elihu Root
1913 Henri La Fontaine
1917 International Committee of the Red Cross
1919 Woodrow Wilson
1920 Léon Bourgeois
1921 Hjalmar Branting / Christian Lange
1922 Fridtjof Nansen
1925 Austen Chamberlain / Charles Dawes
1926 Aristide Briand / Gustav Stresemann
1927 Ferdinand Buisson / Ludwig Quidde
1929 Frank B. Kellogg
1930 Nathan Söderblom
1931 Jane Addams / Nicholas Butler
1933 Norman Angell
1934 Arthur Henderson
1935 Carl von Ossietzky
1936 Carlos Saavedra Lamas
1937 Robert Cecil
1938 Nansen International Office for Refugees
1944 International Committee of the Red Cross
1945 Cordell Hull
1946 Emily Balch / John Mott
1947 Friends Service Council / American Friends Service Committee
1949 John Boyd Orr
1950 Ralph Bunche
1951 Léon Jouhaux
1952 Albert Schweitzer
1953 George Marshall
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1957 Lester B. Pearson
1958 Georges Pire
1959 Philip Noel-Baker
1960 Albert Lutuli
1961 Dag Hammarskjöld
1962 Linus Pauling
1963 International Committee of the Red Cross / League of Red
1964 Martin Luther King Jr.
1968 René Cassin
1969 International Labour Organization
1970 Norman Borlaug
1971 Willy Brandt
1973 Lê Đức Thọ (declined award) / Henry Kissinger
1974 Seán MacBride / Eisaku Satō
1975 Andrei Sakharov
1976 Betty Williams / Mairead Corrigan
1977 Amnesty International
1978 Anwar Sadat / Menachem Begin
1979 Mother Teresa
1980 Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
1982 Alva Myrdal / Alfonso García Robles
1983 Lech Wałęsa
1984 Desmond Tutu
1985 International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War
1986 Elie Wiesel
1987 Óscar Arias
1988 UN Peacekeeping Forces
1989 Tenzin Gyatso (14th Dalai Lama)
1990 Mikhail Gorbachev
1991 Aung San Suu Kyi
1992 Rigoberta Menchú
1993 Nelson Mandela / F. W. de Klerk
1994 Shimon Peres / Yitzhak Rabin / Yasser Arafat
1995 Pugwash Conferences / Joseph Rotblat
1996 Carlos Belo / José Ramos-Horta
1997 International Campaign to Ban Landmines / Jody Williams
1998 John Hume / David Trimble
1999 Médecins Sans Frontières
2000 Kim Dae-jung
2001 United Nations / Kofi Annan
2002 Jimmy Carter
2003 Shirin Ebadi
2004 Wangari Maathai
2005 International Atomic Energy Agency / Mohamed ElBaradei
2006 Grameen Bank / Muhammad Yunus
2007 Al Gore / Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
2008 Martti Ahtisaari
2009 Barack Obama
2010 Liu Xiaobo
2011 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf / Leymah Gbowee / Tawakkol Karman
2012 European Union
2013 Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
2014 Kailash Satyarthi / Malala Yousafzai
2015 Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet
2016 Juan Manuel Santos
2017 International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons
Nobel Prize laureates
George Andrew Olah
George Andrew Olah (United States/Hungary)
Kenzaburō Ōe (Japan)
Yasser Arafat (Palestine)
Shimon Peres (Israel)
Yitzhak Rabin (Israel)
Bertram Brockhouse (Canada)
Clifford Glenwood Shull (United States)
Physiology or Medicine
Alfred G. Gilman
Alfred G. Gilman (United States)
Martin Rodbell (United States)
John Harsanyi (United States)
John Forbes Nash (United States)
Reinhard Selten (Germany)
Nobel Prize recipients
Links to related articles
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Chairmen of the
Provisional State Council
David Ben-Gurion (1948)
Chaim Weizmann (1948–49)
Chaim Weizmann (1949–52)
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi (1952–63)
Zalman Shazar (1963–73)
Ephraim Katzir (1973–78)
Yitzhak Navon (1978–83)
Chaim Herzog (1983–93)
Ezer Weizman (1993–2000)
Moshe Katsav (2000–07)
Shimon Peres (2007–14)
Reuven Rivlin (2014–present)
Prime Ministers of
Communications Ministers of
Finance Ministers of
Foreign Affairs Ministers of
Defense Ministers of
Aliyah and Integration Ministers of
Interior Ministers of
Religious Services Ministers of
Transport Ministers of
Opposition leaders of
Nation's Great Leaders Plot,
Grave of Shimon Peres
ISNI: 0000 0001 1878 3670
BNF: cb11919118k (data)