Israeli President Shimon Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Israeli Prime Minister, is celebrating his 90th birthday among numerous international guests.
Israeli President Shimon Peres has celebrated his 90th birthday during a lavish celebration in Jerusalem, even though his birthday is not until August 2. Singers Eyal Golan and Barbra Streisand, who sang Avinu Malkanu, performed, as some 5,000 guests, among them former US President Bill Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, gathered for the festival. Peres stated at the celebration, “I am moved to see so many people who have been with me along the way. I know you have come to Jerusalem from around the world to pay tribute to me and with me to tikun olam.”
Netanyahu said at the event, “Nobody will make peace with a weak Israel. Shimon Peres has devoted his life to build Israel and to build peace. A strong Israel creates the possibility for peace. We extend our hand in peace to our neighbors – all of them – but we are always ready to defend ourselves. This is what I’ve learned from Shimon Peres. Look to the future, remember the past, be prepared for peace and be prepared to defend yourself.” Israel has been trying to seek peace for the last 65 years with the Palestinians and will continue to try.
Peres spoke about his lifetime influences. He explained, “My revered grandfather, Rabbi Tzvi Melzer, a man of the Volozhin Talmudic Yeshiva. He was murdered at the hands of the Nazis. He taught me the Talmud during the day, and Tolstoy at night. He shaped my life as a child. And on the other hand, David Ben Gurion, the founder of the State of Israel, and the greatest Jew I have ever known. He taught me the importance of vision in the shaping of a desired reality. And that the moral call is the wisest of human judgments. He taught me that there is nothing more responsible than to take risks today for the sake of tomorrow’s chance. His political wisdom, his bold determination, his ability to make difficult decisions and stand by them, strong as a rock; I believe it is these traits which enabled a seemingly impossible dream to become reality, and changed forever the destiny of our people’s history.”
Peres emphasized that the Israeli nation longs for peace with her neighbors. He claimed, “The yesterday between us and the Palestinians is full of sadness. I believe that the Israel of tomorrow and the Palestine of tomorrow can offer our children a ray of hope. The advancement of peace will complete the march of Israel towards the fulfillment of its founding vision. An exemplary and thriving country. A country living in peace and security in its homeland and among its neighbors.”
Other world leaders offered their praise of Shimon Peres. Bill Clinton stated, “When I call you my friend I know that I speak for the entire people of Israel. Your unwavering commitment to the Jewish people and your moving support for the State of Israel will always be cherished by each and every one of us.” He also called Peres the Albert Einstein of the social world for he managed to put together a unified theory of meaning, philosophy, politics, psychology, technology and society. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin, also praised Peres for his contributions to peace, Zionism, and humanity. Throughout his career, Peres has labored tirelessly for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, founding the Peres Center for Peace which teaches to Palestinian and Israeli children value peace via soccer, and other activities that promote co-existence.
To view Netanyahu’s speech, see below!
By Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United with Israel