Nation & World

It’s in the ‘DNA’ of U.S. and Israel to be friends, Peres said when honored in Miami

Shimon Peres, the former president and former prime minister of Israel, is led to the stage by Jacob Solomon, the president and CEO of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. Peres was presented a silver menorah and honored during the Federation’s The Main Event on Monday, February 16, 2015, at the Hilton Miami Downtown.
Shimon Peres, the former president and former prime minister of Israel, is led to the stage by Jacob Solomon, the president and CEO of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation. Peres was presented a silver menorah and honored during the Federation’s The Main Event on Monday, February 16, 2015, at the Hilton Miami Downtown. MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Shimon Peres, who died on Wednesday at age 93, spoke in Miami last year where he was honored  at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s Main Event, its top annual fundraiser. Here is that report from Miami Herald archives.

 

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Saying “knives and swords don’t have a future,” former Israeli President Shimon Peres Monday lashed out against both anti-Semitism and terrorism.

“I know how tragic it has been in Denmark, France and Egypt, too,” Peres said in Miami. “I’m sure we shall overcome. [The terrorists] don’t have a message, they don’t have a promise and they don’t have a solution even for their own children.”

There have been recent deadly attacks at a Copenhagen synagogue and cultural center, and against the journalists of the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo. On Sunday, the ultra-radical Islamic State released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians.

“We have to stand together against terror and the reasons for terrorism, which are poverty and ignorance,” Peres said.

Peres, 91, who also served as prime minister and spent seven decades in public service before his term as president drew to a close last July, was honored at the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s Main Event, its top annual fundraiser.

As Peres stepped to the podium, he received a standing ovation.

“Time and time again you have remained true to your vision that Israel must find a way to exist in safety and security while still pursuing a just and lasting peace with her neighbors,” Jacob Solomon, the Jewish Federation’s president, said in presenting Peres a silver menorah inscribed with the Talmudic quote, “One person’s candle is a light for many.”

The former president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate took part in a question-and-answer session with journalist Jerry Levine before a sold-out crowd of more than 1,300 members of Miami’s Jewish community and friends at the Hilton Miami Downtown. The Miami area is home to more than 123,000 Jews.

In responses laced with humor and optimism, he talked about his faith in the future of Israel and his hope for peace.

While he said he was hopeful that peace would come in his lifetime, he said he didn’t know how many years he had remaining. “At any rate, I believe it will come in your lifetime,” he said.

Peres’ visit came at a time of deepening tension between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu whom House Speaker John Boehner invited to address Congress without first clearing it with the White House — a breach of protocol.

Netanyahu accepted the invitation to speak to the U.S. Congress on March 3 even though his talk falls only two weeks before Israel’s elections. The White House generally doesn’t receive world leaders during electoral periods.

Obama and Netanyahu have already butted heads over U.S. efforts to reach a deal with Iran on its nuclear program and Netanyahu is expected to use the platform to make his case about the dangers of such a nuclear deal directly to Congress.

But Peres said, “I believe it’s in the American DNA and in our DNA to be friends.”

Peres said repeatedly that Israel owes a debt of gratitude to the United States for supporting and standing by Israel for so many years. While there may sometimes be disagreements between Israel and the United States, he said, “Basically we’re two agreeing friends.”

Peres said he prefers to judge a person on his record not his words. “And when I judge President Obama on his record, it is totally positive,” Peres said. “I know all our defense requirements were met.”

When Levine asked Peres how he managed to stay so fit and youthful at 91, the statesman joked, “Well, that’s your judgment.”

But then he offered this advice: “Count your achievements and then count your dreams. If your dreams exceed your achievements, you are young. So keep dreaming.”

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