Obama says Peres’s peace efforts ‘weren’t naive’

Obama turns to Peres’s early life, referring to the Holocaust and loss of his relatives.

“And so from an early age, Shimon bore witness to the cruelty human beings can inflict on each other… the particular madness of anti-Semitism, which has run like a stain through history.”

That understanding made him vigilant, but it “would never harden his heart. It would never extinguish his faith. Instead it broadened his moral imagination. It gave him the capacity to see all people as deserving of dignity and respect. It helped him see, not just the world how it is, but the world how it should be,” says Obama.

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Obama says Peres “laid the foundation for the formidable armed forces that won Israel’s wars.”

“His boldness sent Israeli commandos to Entebbe” and rescued Jews from Ethiopia and his statesmanship built bonds with other countries, says the US president.

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Peres “made hard choices, to roll back inflation,” he says, and “turned this tiny country in a central hub for the digital age.”

Obama says Pres’s contributions are “so fundamental, so pervasive, that perhaps sometime it could be overlooked.”

Younger generations remember Peres for Oslo accords, he says.

“But whatever he shared with his family or his closest friends, to the world, he brushed off his critics. And I know from my conversations with him, that his pursuit of peace was never naive.”

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Obama says Peres “understood how hard peace would be “in a region where Arab youth are often taught to hate.

“I don’t believe he was naive. But he understood from hard-earned experience, that true security comes through making peace with your neighbors.”