“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 Isreal 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.
Robert Goot Peter Wertheim
President Executive Director