Submitted June, 2013 BY DR. HAROLD GOLDMEIER, MANAGING PARTNER, GOLDMEIER INVESTMENTS LLC AND INSTRUCTOR AMERICAN JEWISH UNIVERSITY TEL AVIV IN BUSINESS AND SOCIAL POLICY HAROLD.GOLDMEIER@GMAIL.COM
I had a wonderful time attending the Fifth Israeli Presidential Conference: Facing Tomorrow 2013! This year The Presidential Conference is held in conjunction with the 90th birthday celebration for President Shimon Peres. The ever-sagacious birthday boy and his minions planned three days of celebration and futurism to showcase the moral compass of the State of Israel, the fierce passion for mankind the President shares with the Jewish people, and the nettle of future human development and community.
Former President Clinton is clearly more a soul mate to Peres than any other personality attending the conference. Clinton speaks and Streisand sings with partisan adulation of Peres’ passionate soul. Clinton and Mr. Blair share how on the world stage Peres gives witness to the grievances of the poor, the meek, oppressed, and those betrayed and abandoned by their governments, time and place. All the speakers admire his unending worldwide quest for peace, his crusades to improve education, and Peres’ never flagging defense of the Jewish people and the Jewish State.
The focus of the conference is on the future. This is not a popular theme for most 90 years olds. Workshops and keynotes address the future of the environment talking about workable solutions to challenges of today, human brain development, technology, human intimacy and sexuality, Jewish community revival, political and social justice, among other topics. Peres might be given a pass were he to rest on his laurels drawing an impenetrable curtain around himself satisfied to be another of Israel’s memory keepers. This is not his way. He is neither a survivor nor a victim, but he is now a futurist and that is the point of the conference.
The star studded, birthday bash in a capitalistic inspired, municipal, convention center, is hardly a celebration worthy of King Louis VI as one critic accuses. The birthday was brilliantly the means to draw attention to the Peres agenda bringing to Israel from around the world statesmen, corporate and NGO leaders, donors, entertainers, and ordinary folk. I got chills seeing the overwhelming outpouring of support Israel gets from most quarters. The keeners do not understand how difficult it is for prescient minds to get their messages out in an age of simplistic conceptualization. Peres and his people figured it out, and for those not attending the conference you cannot know what I mean.
There is so much in print and on the Internet about history and the self-deluding simplicities of the human condition that it is exciting the Peres people wisely figured out how to stimulate trenchant insights and share future reconciliations. Visions of the future are forged among thinkers, scientists, activists and theologians. Aubrey de Grey’s work earned him the sobriquet of futurist for giving voice to the radical life extension movement in aging people. Mr. Peres continues to demonstrate being old is not a disease, but brings gravitas to a radical life.
Author Daniel Eisenbud wrote last year in The Jerusalem Post about toxic people always seeking ways to sabotage our pleasures. A quote from Shakespeare Dan reminded me of best sums up the birthday critics best, “How bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes.” My birthday wish to Mr. Peres is for all of Israel to share in the joy, hopes and dreams your birthday and conference bring when friends gather to praise an old proud Jew and he tells us the future is bright and full of dreams.