“We can and should bring an end to the conflict – and we have to be the initiators. Playing hard-to-get may be a romantic proposition, but it’s not a good political plan.” – Shimon Peres
In Israel, we have been exceedingly fortunate to have had more than our share of great leaders. Giants really. Beginning with David Ben Gurion, who in 1948 declared the establishment of the modern state of Eretz Yisroel and then navigated her through a war that should have been her epitaph . Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin; history will remember them each with the same lore and veneration as Moses, Joshua and David.
But what of Shimon Peres? Truly, Israel has lost a giant among giants.
There is perhaps no person more directly responsible for securing the future of the Jewish state than Shimon Peres. In a country rooted so deeply in the past that it maintains a Jewish claim to the Land of Israel dating back to the Bible and only “permitted” to exist by the United Nations as retribution for a history of persecution culminating in the atrocities of Nazism, architecting a viable (dare I say profitable?) future is no small thing.
But Shimon Peres turned a country with a raging inflation rate of 415%, when he took office, a country on the verge of bankruptcy with foreign-currency reserves dwindling to almost nothing whose banking system had virtually collapsed two years earlier requiring a government bailout and transformed it into a juggernaut. His proposed solutions were never easy to swallow but were always good medicine.
Many will claim that his greatest legacy was in negotiating the 1993 Oslo Accords with then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat along with Yitzhak Rabin. Being awarded The Nobel Peace Prize just one year later makes it hard to dispute that theory. But Shimon Peres’ legacy is even greater than that.
Shimon Peres’ greatest legacy, the one from which our children will benefit for generations to come was his building of Israel’s defense and aerospace industries and his masterminding of our country’s nuclear program ensuring our safety and longevity in the process. He truly took our country from Infancy to adulthood. The economic seeds that he planted have placed Israel in the top 18 nations in the world on the UN’s Human Development Index, the highest ranked in the Middle East and ahead of many developed countries around the world.
Ultimately, Shimon Peres was a visionary. And a brave one at that. Whether leading Israel through the economic wasteland of the 1980’s to a bright new economic future or foreseeing a road to peace with an enemy that that pre-dates the modern era or building industries and fostering security for his people, Shimon Peres was a giant among giants. We will not see his like again.