Former Israeli president, prime minister and Nobel prize winner Shimon Peres has died at the age of 93. Law student Dor Salem (29) from Tel Aviv explains why Peres was such a defining figure in Israeli history.
Since the foundation of Israel in 1948, Peres has been a constant force in Israeli politics. During his seven-decade career, Peres has served as foreign minister, finance minister, prime minister and president. “He was there for every big step the country took, every crucial decision that was made, in all areas of life”, says Dor Salem (29), who studies Law at Tilburg University. “But above all, Shimon was one of Israel’s biggest believers in peace. With his optimism, he gave hope to everyone.”
Peres was given a Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his role in the efforts to create peace between Israel and the Palestinians. “Shimon was one of the architects of the Oslo Agreements. Later, when he was president, he focused all of his attention on getting people from both sides to meet and talk.”
Shimon Peres was the last surviving member of the founding fathers of Israel. “We’re sad to see the last member Israel’s founding generation to go”, says Dor. He adds that the Israeli people aren’t convinced that the current leaders can fill the big shoes of their predecessors – most notably those of Shimon Peres. For Israelis, he will remembered as “a true giant among men”, as a British rabbi wrote.
Dor will remember Shimon Peres for his tireless efforts to bring people together under the most difficult circumstances. “His biggest legacy has always been his unconditional pursuit of peace.”