Participants in the ceremony, attended by members of the Peres family, included Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, Prince Hassan of Jordan, Nicolas Sarkozy, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, singer Barbara Streisand and actress and producer Sharon Stone.
The Peres Center for Peace & Innovation hosted Tuesday a virtual ceremony to commemorate the fourth anniversary since the passing of the ninth President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.
Participants in the ceremony, attended by members of the Peres family, included Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Hillary Clinton, Tony Blair, Prince Hassan of Jordan, Nicolas Sarkozy, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, singer Barbara Streisand and actress and producer Sharon Stone. They were joined by more than 100,000 schoolchildren from across Israel, many at schools proudly named in Peres’ memory.
Using previously unseen footage, the event explored the life of President Peres, drawing inspiration from his most valuable work, vision and the legacy he left behind.
The life of the late Shimon Peres is intertwined with the history of the State of Israel from its earliest days. He also wholeheartedly believed in the power of repairing the world by bringing people from all parts of the globe closer together.
At the ceremony, participants paid the following tributes:
President of the State of Israel, Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin:
“It’s been four years since he left us and we find ourselves living in a period of numbers – the number of seconds it takes to wash your hands properly, the number of meters for social distancing, the number of new cases, the daily number of , recoveries, constantly calculating statistics and hoping to find some comfort in them.”
“My dear Shimon, I have no doubt that you would have already had some ideas if you were still here with us. Although you are no longer here, the fragments of your beating human spirit can still be felt in the full sense of the word, if you just search for it. This same spirit remembers that statistics are nothing, without being accompanied by dreams. I hope that we will be able to capture and fully live life again and again, so that we can promise a good life for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so we may be worthy of your memory.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
“As we mark four years since his passing, I want to open with a saying that Israel’s unforgettable ninth president, Shimon Peres, would oft repeat through the years: “this too shall pass”. Today, Israel – and the whole world – find ourselves facing the challenge of corona. Shimon never forgot from where we had come, how far we had come, and he knew that the state of Israel represents indefatigable strength, and so he was sure we would not give up in the face of challenges that come and go, and with that spirit I say also about corona, I say this storm shall pass, and moreover we will emerge even stronger.
“Shimon contributed to the development of Israel in so many areas, and perhaps most of all in its security through his involvement in securing weapons and in the development of the defense industries, in cultivating our strategic capabilities, in increasing our deterrent. The legacy of his work will last for generations.
“I want to pay a special tribute to Shimon for his role as defense minister in the government of the late Yitzhak Rabin, 44 years ago, Shimon pushed for the bold action to rescue the hostages in Entebbe, and the tear that Shimon shed when my late brother Yoni fell, still touches my soul to this day.
“Simon was a visionary who promoted knowledge, progress and innovation. He even sought to change the Middle East through them. I assure you, that Shimon would warmly welcome the peace relations we are forging with the United Arab Emirates and with Bahrain. In three words: peace through power, peace from which the spirit of Shimon Peres must be drawn.”
Professor Tzvia (Tsiki) Walden: President Peres’ daughter:
“The four years without him haven’t been easy, ‘seeing goodness’, he said, ‘is the ability to see the good that will come, from a long way away.’ My father was a clever optimist who knew when it was the right time to close his eyes and when it was important to open them.
“For 4 years he has been distant, some say in the afterlife, but his legacy is embedded in the hearts of many in this world. His legacy is one of integrity and decency, a legacy representing a culture of keeping promises and respect for others wherever one is. A legacy of tolerance and inclusive conversation as opposed to separation and aggression. Conversations of peace that must take root inside of each of us.
“Today, we are reminded of his covert and overt travels in constant pursuit of peace. He strived for peace with everyone, with those near and far and especially with our neighbors. Right before our eyes, photographs of him from visiting the Gulf states, Oman and Qatar are emerging. My father knew how to gain the respect and trust of world leaders, including leaders of Arab and Muslim states. He always stayed loyal to Israel’s mission, a mission to serve an exemplar towards both its own citizens and to the world. He believed in the concept of ‘good’ and always educated us to carry on working and hoping.
“Our father wasn’t only a clever optimist, but also a man of action who continued to fight for the positive image of the state while ensuring its security, striving for social solidarity within and generating peace at home and abroad.
“In the spirit of his legacy, we will take a good look into the future even on difficult days. We will continue to miss him and continue striving towards peace and will actively pursue it.”
Chemi Peres, Chairman of the Peres Center for Peace & Innovation
“Four years have passed since we parted from our dear father, the founder of the Peres Center for Peace & Innovation, the eighth Prime Minister and the ninth President of the State of Israel and we miss him each and every day. If he were here with us today, he’d probably be excited to see how his vision for a new Middle East is evolving and developing. A new Middle East of peace without battlefields, the Middle East he always dreamed of, which he laid the foundations for and incessantly strived towards. The peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain is another step on the road to realizing his grand vision. My father loved mankind, he was a man of peace, one of the founding fathers of this country and was never afraid to dream big, always showing extraordinary boldness. If only he were with us here today.”
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India:
“President Peres knew the dangers of war, so he made an effort to promote peace. The people of India and Israel, will continue to work together to realize his great vision, a vision of a 21st century partnership between our two ancient civilizations – we owe it to him. I pay my respects to President Peres. His life’s work will continue to inspire humanity.”
Hillary Clinton, 67th U.S. Secretary of State
“I am so honored to join the Peres Center for Peace & Innovation in remembering an extraordinary man, President Shimon Peres was not only one of the founding leaders of the State of Israel, he was a global leader who inspired so many of us. I had the honor of working closely with him for many years, he was not only a friend but really a mentor to both me and my husband.
“I always admired his innovation and creativity, especially when it came to working to achieve peace with Israel’s neighbors and building on the special relationship between Israel and the United States. Above all else, President Peres was an optimist, he believed that a better future was not only possible but absolutely within reach.”
Tony Blair, 51st Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
“Personally, Shimon Peres was a source of inspiration, a role model and a great friend. We shared the same beliefs and interests for peace and innovation. I think about what Shimon would think about the world and times today, I’m sure he would be happy to see Israel’s progress in their relations with the Arab world, especially with the peace deal with the United Arab Emirates.
“He was a huge advocate not just for peace but for cultural acceptance and coexistence. Shimon Peres was a great leader because he had a vision and he was brave – he was willing to take bold steps to advance the things he believed in and that is what makes a man a great leader.”
Nicolas Sarkozy, 23rd President of France
“It’s been 4 years since we lost Shimon Peres. His voice, persona, temperament and ideas are missing in the world. We lost a great leader who led the way towards peace. The world and I lost a very dear friend with whom I liked to speak often. In this disoriented and troubling world, the words of peace and the dialogue of compromise are missing- we are missing a man like Shimon Peres. I’ll never forget him; his memory lives and he’s always in my thoughts.”
Prince Hassan of Jordan
“With great respect and admiration, I remember today, along with many others, a companion and a statesman with both wisdom and great vision. President Peres embodied the courage, desire and integrity that characterize, unfortunately, a past generation of leaders. When it was most significant, and against all odds, Shimon Peres mustered the courage of conversation, the strength of patience and the persistence of perseverance. In the noble and difficult task of building peace, true peacemakers stand on the shoulders of a giant.”
Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda
“We remember President Peres for his commitment to peace, which he always expressed with wit and charm, despite all the challenges. We identify with his vision of global cooperation, in pursuit of a better future for our children. We want to remember that peace and security are prerequisites for well-being and progress, both in Israel and around the world. As Shimon Peres said ‘Peace is not a political choice but a historical and moral one’. I hope that the work of the Peres Center for Peace & Innovation will continue to preserve the ideas of the President in the consciousness of young people in future generations.”
Barbra Streisand, Singer and Actress
“I’m honored to be with you today to commemorate the life’s work of President Shimon Peres. Even though it has been four years since he passed away, I think of him often, especially amidst a global pandemic, political strife and general discord in the world, his wise voice would be so helpful now. Shimon always urged us to aspire for something better, both individually and collectively – a message so important for all of us to remember in times like these.
“Even in the darkest of times, when I think about his many years of service to his country and his constant striving for a better Israel, I can’t help but believe that peace is possible. The light of his legacy will continue to shine as a beacon to the world. In Shimon’s own words: ‘If you want to be great you must serve a great cause’. There are many people with grandiose or authoritarian ambitions who clearly seek to only serve themselves. It is the leaders who serve something greater than themselves, who history will remember for their greatness.”
Sharon Stone, Actress and Film Producer
“I’m lucky that Shimon Peres was my mentor, there are not many young American women who have had the opportunity to be guided and taught so much by Shimon. Together we started our online peace project ‘Yala Young Leaders’, I still feel his hand resting on my shoulders, this hand helps keep my values at the forefront of my consciousness and work. I am grateful for all the times I had the privilege of visiting Israel; I had the honor of being his friend, I will keep him in my heart forever.”