World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder called former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who passed away today at the age of 93, “one of the greatest human beings I have ever known: an astute statesman, a great intellectual and strategist, a seasoned diplomat, and a peace-maker. He did Israel proud, and he made Jews in every corner of the world proud of Israel."
Lauder declared: “Shimon Peres epitomizes Israel’s many achievements over the past seven decades. He was ‘Mr. Israel’. He embodied the Zionist dream, he helped to build a free, secure, and prosperous state in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people.
“The fact that Israel has not just survived over the past 68 years, but thrived, was due in no small part to Peres’ enormous efforts. His life was dedicated to making the Zionist project a success. He didn’t just talk about peace, he worked toward it so it could eventually become a reality, in his own lifetime. He knew achieving peace is possible.
“Shimon Peres also knew that Israel would not be saved by military force, by diplomacy or by economic strength alone, but only by the combination of all three. Whether it was finding weapons to defend the fledgling state in the 1950s, or creating diplomatic alliances that were crucial to Israel’s standing in the world, or coming up with some of the most innovative technologies, he made it happen.
“His unbelievable curiosity in science, research and human development was there even when he was in his nineties. He often spoke about the latest advances in these fields and what they meant for Israel and the wider world. It was amazing how many new ideas he presented each time, how well-informed he was, and how clear he saw the broader picture of things.
“I believe he would want us to continue his legacy, and do everything in our power to maintain Israel as the forward-looking, democratic and dynamic country he helped to build," said Lauder.
Shimon Peres addressed WJC forums on numerous occasions. In 2012, he was given the inaugural Theodor Herzl Award of the World Jewish Congress for his services to Israel and to the Jewish people.