Shimon Peres 1923-2016
Statement by President Barack Obama on the Death of Former Israeli President Shimon Peres
There are few people who we share this world with who change the course of human history, not just through their role in human events, but because they expand our moral imagination and force us to expect more of ourselves. My friend Shimon was one of those people.
Shimon Peres once said that, "I learned that public service is a privilege that must be based on moral foundations." Tonight, Michelle and I join people across Israel, the United States and around the world in honoring the extraordinary life of our dear friend Shimon Peres-a Founding Father of the State of Israel and a statesman whose commitment to Israel's security and pursuit of peace was rooted in his own unshakeable moral foundation and unflagging optimism.
I will always be grateful that I was able to call Shimon my friend. I first visited him in Jerusalem when I was a senator, and when I asked for his advice, he told me that while people often say that the future belongs to the young, it's the present that really belongs to the young. "Leave the future to me," he said, "I have time." And he was right. Whether it was during our conversations in the Oval Office, walking together through Yad Vashem, or when I presented him with America's highest civilian honor, the Medal of Freedom, Shimon always looked to the future. He was guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress that he knew people of goodwill could advance together. He brought young people from around the world together because he knew they could carry us closer to our ideals of justice and equality.
Shimon was the essence of Israel itself; the courage of Israel's fight for independence, the optimism he shared with his wife Sonya as they helped make the desert bloom, and the perseverance that led him to serve his nation in virtually every position in government across the entire life of the State of Israel. As Americans, we are in his debt because, having worked with every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy, no one did more over so many years as Shimon Peres to build the alliance between our two countries - an unbreakable alliance that today is closer and stronger than it has ever been.
Perhaps because he had seen Israel surmount overwhelming odds, Shimon never gave up on the possibility of peace between Israelis, Palestinians and Israel's neighbors-not even after the heartbreak of the night in Tel Aviv that took Yitzhak Rabin. "Dear friends, he told us during my visit to Israel three years ago, after everything I have seen in my life, I earned the right to believe that peace is attainable. Tonight, I can think of no greater tribute to his life than to renew our commitment to the peace that we know is possible. Our thoughts are with his children Zvia, Yoni and Chemi, their families and all who loved and admired Shimon Peres, of blessed memory.
A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever. Shimon Peres was a soldier for Israel, for the Jewish people, for justice, for peace, and for the belief that we can be true to our best selves - to the very end of our time on Earth, and in the legacy that we leave to others. For the gift of his friendship and the example of his leadership, todah rabah, Shimon.
PRESIDENT CLINTON'S REMARKS AT PERES' FUNERAL
TO THE PERES FAMILY, THE LEADER OF THE KNESSET AND PRESIDENT OBAMA AND ALL THE DISTINGUISHED LEADERS WHO HAVE COME FROM AROUND THE WORLD. YESTERDAY THE PRIME MINISTER DID SOMETHING THAT WAS UNTHINKABLE BACK IN THE DARK AGES WHEN I WAS PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, HE SENT OUT A TWEET. AND THE TWEET REMINDED US OF A SIMPLE FACT. IT WAS ISRAEL'S FIRST DAY. WITHOUT SHIMON PERES.
PERES WAS IN THE KNESSET FOR 48 YEARS, BUT FOR MORE THAN 70 OF HIS 93 YEARS, IN ONE WAY OR THE OTHER, IN AND OUT OF GOVERNMENT, HE WAS A PUBLIC SERVANT. I WAS HONORED TO SHARE ALMOST 25 OF THOSE YEARS WITH HIM. FIRST IN OUR COMMON EFFORTS WITH PRIME MINISTER RABIN OF BLESSED MEMORY TO FORGE A JUST AND LASTING PEACE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND PALESTINIANS. THEN JUST AS HIS FRIEND. SOMEONE WHO LISTENED TO, LEARNED FROM, AND LAUGH WITH HIM. AND ALWAYS WAS IN AWE OF HIS ENDLESS CAPACITY TO MOVE BEYOND EVEN MOST CRUSHING SETBACKS IN ORDER TO SEIZE THE POSSIBILITIES OF EACH NEW DAY. I AM HONORED THE FAMILY ASKED ME TO TELL YOU WHAT HE MEANT TO SOMEONE WHO IS NOT A CITIZEN OF THIS COUNTRY I LOVE SO MUCH. BUT WHO WAS NEVER THE LESS BLESSED AND INSPIRED I THINK IN MANY WAYS IS REPRESENTATIVE OF MILLIONS MORE HE TOUCHED THOUGH HE NEVER MET.
ISRAEL WATCHED HIM GROW FIRST FROM SORT OF YOUNG GENIUS DURING HIS DAYS TO BUILD UNDEFEATABLE DEFENSE FORCES. THROUGH A LONG LIFE TO BECOME A WISE CHAMPION OF OUR COMMON HUMANITY. SOMEONE WHO WANTED THE BEST FOR ALL CHILDREN. YES, THE ISRAELI CHILDREN. BUT ALSO THE CHILDREN OF HIS NEIGHBORS AND THE LARGER WORLD.
THE PREVIOUS SPEAKERS HAVE REMINDED ME AGAIN OF A CLIP I SAW LAST NIGHT ON TELEVISION WHERE SHIMON WAS BEING INTERVIEWED BY CHARLIE ROSE, AND HE LOOKED AT HIM SORT OF SAYING I'M GOING TO SERVE A SOFTBALL UP TO YOU. AND WATCH YOU HIT A HOME RUN. WHAT DO YOU WANT YOUR LEGACY TO BE? AND HE SAID, I'M MORE CONCERNED ABOUT TOMORROW THAN YESTERDAY.
OUR COMPLICATED, BRILLIANT FRIEND STEERED BY A SIMPLE STRAIGHTFORWARD CREED. PERHAPS IN NO SMALL MEASURE TO HIS CONSTANT RELENTLESS URGING. THE TOMORROWS HE ENVISIONS ARE ALREADY BEING LIVED HERE IN ISRAEL. BY MANY YOUNG PEOPLE IN SPITE OF ALL THE TROUBLES.
YOU HEARD THE PRIME MINISTER TALK ABOUT THE DEDICATION OF THE NEW HIGH TECH PARK. HE'S BEEN TALKING TO ME ABOUT THAT FOR 25 YEARS. AND THERE ARE YOUNG PEOPLE NOW THROUGHOUT THE REGION WHO ARE TRYING TO BREAK BOTH THE MENTAL AND MATERIAL CHAINS THAT HAVE HELD THEM IN BONDAGE PERHAPS IN NO SMALL MEASURE TO THE INSPIRATION HE PROVIDED.
AS HAS BEEN SAID, HIS CRITICS OFTEN CLAIMED HE WAS A NAIVE, OVERLY OPTIMISTIC DREAMER. THEY WERE ONLY WRONG ABOUT THE NAIVE PART. HE KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS DOING IN BEING OVERLY OPTIMISTIC. HE KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS DOING WITH HIS DREAMS. HE NEVER GAVE UP ON ANYBODY. I MEAN, ANYBODY. YOU HEARD THE PRIME MINISTER TALK ABOUT THEIR BEAUTIFUL FRIENDSHIP. IT FOLLOWED A VERY TOUGH CAMPAIGN. BUT SHIMON ALWAYS KEPT THE DOOR OPEN.
WE SHARED SO MANY WONDERFUL TIMES BUT MY PERSONAL FAVORITE WAS SITTING WITH HIM AND HIS OLD AND PERSONAL FRIEND SHARON AT HIS 80TH BIRTHDAY PARTY LISTENING TO THE BACK AND FORTH WAS A SIGHT TO BEHOLD. IT WAS WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION AS THE SAYING GOES. IN ADDITION IT WAS A PERFECT PERES NIGHT. THE STAGE WAS FULL OF YOUNG PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT WHAT HE HAD MEANT TO THEIR LIVES, INCLUDING A YOUNG ETHIOPIAN MEMBER OF YOUR DEFENSE FORCES WHO HAD MET AS A VERY YOUNG CHILD AT THE AIRPORT AS PART OF THE OPERATION HE SUPPORTED.
THE NIGHT ENDED, HOWEVER, WITH A CHOIR OF ISRAELI JEWISH AND ARAB CHILDREN SINGING TOGETHER JOHN LENON'S WONDERFUL SONG "IMAGINE." SHIMON ACTUALLY COULD IMAGINE ALL THE PEOPLE LIVING IN THE WORLD TODAY. HE IMAGINED ALL THE THINGS THE REST OF US COULD DO.
HE STARTED OFF LIFE AS ISRAEL'S BRIGHTEST STUDENT, BECAME ITS BEST TEACHER, AND ENDED UP ITS BIGGEST DREAMER. HE LIVED 93 YEARS IN A STATE OF CONSTANT WONDER.
OVER THE UNBELIEVABLE POTENTIAL OF ALL THE REST OF US TO RISE ABOVE OUR WOUNDS, OUR RESENTMENTS, OUR FEARS, TO MAKE THE MOST OF TODAY AND CLAIM THE PROMISE OF TOMORROW. IT MUST HAVE BEEN HARD FOR HIM TO DO THIS. IT'S EASY TO SAY THINGS LIKE THIS AT A MEMORIAL SERVICE. IT'S HARD TO DO. FIRST HE HAD TO MASTER HIS OWN DEALINGS -- DEMONS, FORGIVE HIMSELF FOR HIS OWN MISTAKES, AND GET OVER HIS OWN DISAPPOINTMENTS. THE MONUMENTAL EFFORT REQUIRED TO DO THAT GREW HIS HEART TO BE BIGGER THAN HIS BRAIN, WHICH IS REALLY SAYING SOMETHING.
THAT EFFORT ALSO, I AM CONVINCED, IS WHAT MADE HIM FOREVER YOUNG. NOW HE IS GONE. LEAVING ONLY A BLESSED MEMORY AND A POWERFUL EXAMPLE. THAT'S MORE THAN ENOUGH IF THOSE OF US WHO LOVED HIM FROM NEAR AND FAR ACCEPT OUR DUTY TO KEEP HIS GIFTS ALIVE. FOR THE REST OUR LIVES, WHENEVER THE ROAD WE TRAVEL COMES TO A DEAD END, OR THE GOOD WE SEEK TO DO HITS A STONE WALL, OR THE HAND OF FRIENDSHIP WE EXTEND MEETS ONLY A COLD STARE, IN HIS HONOR I ASK THAT WE REMEMBER SHIMON PERES'S LUMINOUS SMILE. AND IMAGINE.
JCRC-NY Applauds NYC Council for Adopting Resolution Condemning the BDS Movement
Michael S. Miller, Executive Vice President and CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, issued the following statement:
"Condemning all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the people of Israel"
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The Jewish Community Relations Council of NY applauds the NYC Council for adopting Resolution 1058-A, "A resolution condemning all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and the global movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the people of Israel."
The resolution, which passed with a supermajority of 40 Council Members supporting, 2 opposing, and 6 abstaining, puts the New York City Council on record stating that the delegitimization of Israel in all its manifestations is anti-Jewish, and anti-peace, just as I detailed my testimony at last week's hearing on the matter.
As several Council Members noted during today's Stated Meeting, the BDS Movement supports the right of Palestinians to self-determination and denies that same right to the Jewish people. By seeking to dissolve the democratic, Jewish state, the Global BDS Movement stands in direct opposition to longstanding American policy supporting a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians.
While some activists have claimed that this resolution is an attack on their right to free speech and their right to participate in boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns against Israel, this rhetoric is false. The resolution has enabled the New York City Council to exercise its own free speech to reveal the true nature of the Global BDS Movement and "condemn all efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel."
During the session, some critics of the resolution testified that the City Council should refrain from commenting on issues concerning foreign policy. The BDS Movement, however, is asking cities, states, and countries to participate in campaigns with the goal or eroding public support for Israel in a variety of arenas, including commerce, academia, religious institutions, and government. Its campaigns have targeted New York's college campuses creating situations where many students are intimidated from expressing pro-Israel stances.
New York churches are regularly urged to sponsor lectures and workshops promoting BDS campaigns. BDS groups have repeatedly lobbied Brooklyn's Park Slope Food Coop to de-shelve Israeli products. Celebrities and musicians from New York who announce performances in Israel are often harassed online by BDS supporters. Additionally, BDS campaigns seek to deleteriously impact on New York's trade relationship with Israel, which is valued over $5 billion dollars. Indeed, the BDS Movement is a local issue affecting New Yorkers. We are proud that our City Council has officially condemned it.
We thank Council Member Andrew Cohen for submitting and championing this resolution, the 34 additional Council Members who co-sponsored it, including Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the entire Jewish Caucus, and the five additional Council Members who voted in favor of the resolution.
Proof: The NY Times Really is Biased Against Israel
By Sherwin Pomerantz
For some years there has been talk that the New York Times has a residual bias against Israel. However, most of the proof offered has been anecdotal and not supported by anything tangible that people can point to and have an "aha" moment.
However, in the last two weeks two op-eds appeared that give significant credence to what can only be termed a negative obsession not only with Israel, but with Jews as well.
To understand the issue, it is important to understand how the editorial pages of the paper are arranged. Each day the paper has two pages of editorial content. There is a half-page dedicated to the editorial position of the paper itself. In addition there is a full page of syndicated columnists such as Roger Cohen, Frank Bruni, Charles Krugman, etc. The remaining half page generally consists of two guest op-ed pieces, although on occasion they give the entire half page to one writer.
On July 25th one of the guest op-eds was written by Alon Tal, an Associate Professor in the Department of Desert Ecology at Ben-Gurion University, and the author of "The Land Is Full: Addressing Overpopulation in Israel." In that piece he makes the case that Israel's population growth is a threat to our quality of life, Specifically, "Given that Israel has the highest birthrate in the developed world, those who care about its future should realize that demographic growth is no longer a blessing but a threat to the quality of life in the Jewish state."
His thesis is that our quality of life is at risk if the population of Israel continues to grow unchecked. As he says:
In a country that argues over everything else, overpopulation, it seems, is one issue we never want to address. There are two reasons for this taboo: First, the loss of six million Jews in the Holocaust made pro-natal policies axiomatic in the young state of Israel. Second, Palestinian authorities have, historically, promoted a high birthrate among the Arab population as a way of undermining the Jewish state by demographic means. Thus, both Arabs and Jews considered having large families a patriotic duty.
Neither reason is valid today: The global total of Jews, which had fallen to 11 million in 1945, has rebounded to pre-World War II levels. There are currently about 17 million people in the world who identify as Jewish. This number is destined to grow much higher, thanks mainly to Israel's population trend.
It is Israel's high fertility rate - 50 percent higher than most other Western countries - that puts it on an unsustainable course. This didn't happen naturally; it is the result of decades of government programs that encouraged large families and created obstacles to abortion. As the country fills up, Israel needs a change of direction, with economic strategies to empower women of all communities in its diverse society.
In other words, we do not need more Jews in Israel because adding Jews will challenge our overall quality of life and we do not need more Jews in the world because we have already replaced the six million lost in the Holocaust.
Can anyone imagine why the New York Times thinks it is important to give half of its op-ed space to someone writing on this topic unless they are biased against us? Can anyone imagine that they would ever publish an op-ed piece that urges Turks to stop having more Turkish children, or even Americans to stop having more American children? Was this really the most important topic in the world on July 25th?
But there is more.
On July 30th they gave space for another one of their two guest op-eds to Ruth Margalit, an Israeli writer living in New York who wrote a piece entitled: "How Benjamin Netanyahu Is Crushing Israel's Free Press" which excoriates Israel for its, as she terms it, "unchecked expansion of paid content in editorial pages, as well as on the outsized influence of Israel Hayom ("Israel Today"), the free daily newspaper owned by the American casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and widely believed to promote the views of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."
It does not occur to Margalit, of course, that the very existence of Israel Hayom is symbolic of freedom of the press as there is no effort by the government (only by the other papers) to close it down. For sure the government might be more inclined to lean in that direction if it was openly anti-administration but, nevertheless..
She also, of course, fails to mention that there are many -democratic- countries that are much worse violators of the concept of freedom of the press than Israel. For example, even before the recent coup attempt, democratic Turkey had more journalists in jail than any country in the world. One would not even want to venture a guess at how that number has increased since the coup attempt.
Once again, of all the problems in the world on July 30th the New York Times chose to give half of its guest op-ed space to a writer critical of Israel, not Turkey, not China, not Egypt but Israel.
So, in the course of 5 days, 20% of the guest op-eds were Israel-critical while Erdogan was locking up hundreds of dissidents, while there were 600,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan with no place to live and without either jobs for themselves or schools for their kids, and while the Republic nominee for president of the United States was venting his spleen on every minority group in America.
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CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America recently ran an ad campaign about the New York Times that said: "All Rant, All Slant, All the Time." Perhaps J J Goldberg, the Atlantic columnist who tweeted that he was going to stop reading Ha'aretz and that the Jerusalem Post is not much better, would be better advised to stop reading the New York Times.
Sherwin Pomerantz is a 32 year resident of Jerusalem, president of Atid EDI Ltd., an economic development consulting firm, and former National President of the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel.
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