Shimon Peres 1923-2016
Shimon Peres – world renowned statesman, ninth President and Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and a man who embodied action, vision and hope.
Among the founding fathers and pioneers of the State of Israel, Peres dedicated his early years to building Israel's military deterrence and defensive capabilities and for several decades, relentlessly devoted himself to the pursuit of peace before leading Israel on the path toward becoming a global superpower in the fields of technology and innovation.
An intellectual and man of profound knowledge and wisdom, he composed numerous poems, articles and books.
In a career spanning more than sixty years, Peres loyally served the State of Israel. He held several key senior positions including President of the State of Israel, Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Foreign Minister, Minister of the Treasury, Interior Minister, Minister of Absorption, Minister of Transportation and Communications, Minister of Information, Minister of Regional Cooperation and Development of the Negev and Galilee, and Chairman of the Opposition.
Shimon Peres was born Szymon Perski on August 2, 1923 in the town of Wiszniew in Belarus and made Aliyah (immigration to Israel) to Eretz Israel in 1934. He attended the Balfour and Geula schools in Tel Aviv and later the Ben Shemen Agricultural School. In 1941, Peres was sent to undergo agricultural training at Kibbutz Geva with the Ben Shemen group. Together with them, he joined Kibbutz Alumot in the Lower Galilee and during his early days, worked as a shepherd and a dairy farmer. Peres married Sonya (née Gelman) in 1945 and they had three children - Prof. Tsvia Walden, Dr. Yonatan Peres and Nehemia (Chemi) Peres, and later eight grandchildren and three great- grandchildren. Sonya Peres passed away in 2011.
As Minister of Defense in 1974, Peres negotiated the interim agreement with Egypt. As Prime Minister and Foreign Minister in the 1980s, Peres conducted secret meetings with King Hussein of Jordan which constituted the basis of the historic peace agreement between Israel and Jordan. While serving as Israel's Foreign Minister in 1994, Peres laid the foundation for future peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.
In 1996, he pioneered the founding of the Peres Center for Peace, Israel’s leading NGO focused on developing and implementing innovative and cutting-edge peace building programs, in order to promote peaceful relations and co-existence between Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians.
In July 2016, Peres launched the National Israeli Innovation Center at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.
Throughout his long career of dedicated public service, Peres initiated innovative projects in the Israeli periphery, establishing the city Nazareth Illit and many other enterprises in the regions of the Negev and Galilee. While serving as Prime Minister in the national unity government, Peres saved the Israeli economy with a crucial initiative which drastically reduced inflation from a staggering high of 400 percent and worked to promote national and international endeavors, both overtly and behind the scenes.
In 2007, Peres was elected by the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) to serve as the ninth President of the State of Israel, becoming the first Prime Minister to have also served as President . During his presidential term, Peres achieved unprecedented popularity and esteem among Israelis from all walks of life. His key goals were to strengthen Israeli society, promote Israel's international standing and establish institutions that would promote innovative Israeli entrepreneurs and scientists.
Peres was recognized throughout the world as a leader of great stature, a statesman and visionary who represented the optimism, hope and glory of Israel. He achieved international acclaim for his years of work to promote the State of Israel on the global stage and his efforts to pursue peace. Alongside the honor of being awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, he was presented with countless medals and awards from prominent world leaders and religious figures, most notably, the Pope.
Shimon Peres passed away at the age of 93 on September 28, 2016.