Shimon Peres

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Optimists and pessimists die the same way. They just live differently. I prefer to live as an optimist.

Shimon Peres (2 August 1923 - 28 September 2016) was a Polish-born Israeli statesman. He was the ninth President of Israel from 2007 to 2014. Peres served twice as the Prime Minister of Israel and twice as Interim Prime Minister, and he was a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years. Peres was elected to the Knesset in November 1959 and, except for a three-month-long hiatus in early 2006, served continuously until 2007, when he became President.


  • There's a great deal of criticism about the United States, but there is one thing that nobody criticizes the United States. Nobody thinks the United States went to strike against Iraq in order to gain land or water or oil, nobody thinks America has any ambitions about real estate. As it happened in the 20th century, the American boys went to fight in two world wars, many of them lost their lives. The United States won the wars, won the land, but you gave back every piece of it. America didn't keep anything out of her victories for herself. You gave back Japan, an improved Japan, you gave Germany, an improved Germany, you've heard the Marshall Plan. And today, I do not believe there is any serious person on earth who thinks the United States, whether you agree or don't agree with this strike, has any egoistic or material purposes in the war against Iraq. The reason is, for this strike, that you cannot let the world run wild. And people who are coming from different corners of our life, attack and kill women and children and innocent people, just out of the blue. And I think the whole world is lucky that there is a United States that has the will and the power to handle the new danger that has arrived on the 21st century.
    • Speech at Harvard University (20 October 2004)
  • Until the Yom Kippur War, in 1973, until then Israel didn't have a chance but to fight for her life. We were attacked five times, outgunned, outnumbered, on a small piece of land, and our main challenge was to remain alive.
    • Speech at Harvard University (20 October 2004)
  • Optimists and pessimists die the same way. They just live differently. I prefer to live as an optimist.
    • As quoted in Serving "60 Years to Life", Newsweek Europe (12 December 2005)
  • There isn't a single person in Israel who wants to destroy or harm Egypt. In contrast, there's a whole country that openly wants to destroy Israel, and that's Iran. That is the difference between ours and Egypt's security problems. Egypt is not threatened by anyone. Israel is threatened by the second circle. Israel has never been and will never be a danger to Egypt. [...] Israel is not threatening Iran, Iran is threatening Israel. The situation is not similar.
  • The borders will be based on 1967, with the required security modifications. If we take a certain percentage of the Palestinian land, we will compensate them with land. We will not rob their land. Sovereignty yes, but no one would threaten this Palestinian state, and therefore the Palestinians also agree that it can be demilitarized. When the threats on Israel would also cease, I hope that Israel could be demilitarized too.
    • ArabYnet online chat (6 February 2006)
  • We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred. It is a tragedy what the Armenians went through but not a genocide [...] Israel should not determine a historical or philosophical position on the Armenian issue. If we have to determine a position, it should be done with great care not to distort the historical realities.
  • Your majesty, the king of Saudi Arabia, I was listening to your message. I wish that your voice will become the prevailing voice of the whole region, of all people. It's right, it's needed, it's promising … The initiative's portrayal of our region's future provides hope to the people and inspires confidence in the nations.
  • India represents the new world in a unique sense. Traditionally democracies were trying to bring equality to all walks of life, today there is a change. Democracy wants to enable every country to have the equal right to be different; it's a collection of differences, not an attempt to force or impose equality on every country. I think India is the greatest show of how so many differences in language, in sects can coexist facing great suffering and keeping full freedom... Many of the countries in the Middle East should learn from you how to escape poverty. You didn't escape poverty by getting American dollars or Russian Roubles but by introducing your own internal reforms and by understanding that the new call of modernity is science. In between the spiritual wealth of Gandhi and the earthly wisdom of Nehru, you combined a great performance of spirit and practice to escape poverty...I know you still have a long way to go but you do it without compromising freedom. The temptation when you're such a large country to introduce discipline and imposition is great but you tried to do it, to make progress not with force and discipline but in an open way. Many of us were educated on the literature of India when we fell in love we read Rabindranath Tagore and when we matured we tried to understand Gandhi.
  • India and Israel are co-operating on security and intelligence matters because we have a common enemy: terrorism.
    • Rahul Bedi, Israel and India draw Closer, 14 March 2002, [1] [2]
  • The way to make peace is not through governments. It is through people.

Quotes about Peres[edit]

  • (HC: What is your personal estimate of Shimon Peres' performance as Prime Minister?) SH: I think he is doing very well indeed. But I am not at all surprised. I have known him for years. Apart from all else, he is a sensitive, genuinely thoughtful, widely-read person. Moreover, he maintains an ongoing dialogue with the intellectual community. Now that is real change from, say, Menachem Begin-not to mention Golda Meir!
  • Not long ago, at a meeting of people involved with social policy, Mr. Shimon Peres said that there are two things in the world that have no lobby: the weak and the future. I would recommend that we all adopt this diagnosis. We have too big a lobby for the past and not a big enough one for the future.
    • Shulamith Hareven "Identity: Victim" in The Vocabulary of Peace: Life, Culture, and Politics in the Middle East (1995)
  • He is sinister and slippery, always the man in a hurry.
    • Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, describing Peres to President Gerald Ford, [[4]] (May 30, 1975).

External links[edit]

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