Shimon Peres has passed away at the age of 93, after suffering a debilitating stroke weeks ago.
Former prime minister, former defense minister, former foreign minister, former minister of eight other ministries, the last surviving member of Israel’s founding fathers, winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize – there is no shortage of descriptors for Shimon Peres.
Shimon Peres served as a Member of Knesset for 48 years, the longest term of service in the history of the Israeli Knesset. He served as Minister in 12 cabinets and served twice as Prime Minister (1984-1986, 1995-1996), Deputy Minister of Defense under Ben Gurion (1959-1965), Treasury Minister (1988-1990), Minister of Defense (1974-1977, 1995-1996), and Foreign Minister (1986-1988, 2001-2002). In 2007, he was elected to serve as the ninth President of the State of Israel.
While our generation may mainly remember him as someone who actively promoted peace, Peres did a whole lot more. As a founding father, of Israel, he was recruited to the Hagana, where he was tasked with special assignments mostly involving personnel, defensive acquisitions and military research. One of his most important contributions was playing a pivotal role in developing Israel’s military industry, whereby he negotiated key arms deals with France and Germany, was the prime mover behind the development of our nuclear weapons (which we may or may not have), and promoted the development of Israel Aerospace Industries. And as Prime Minister, he led the “Economic Stabilization Plan” that saved the Israeli economy from collapse and reduced the hyper-inflation which reached 400% a year.
True, he had his detractors, especially after his role as one of the architects of the ill-fated Oslo Accords, which many of us saw as leading us down a road to disaster. But we should remember his outstanding contributions to Israel and the world. And what seems clear is he had the interests of his beloved Israel at heart.
I had the honor of meeting Shimon Peres at the Presidential Conference he founded. He seemed charismatic, optimistic, and much younger than his age would suggest.
May his memory be a blessing.