Today in the Winnipeg Free Press, a staff editorial lauds Shimon Peres as a hawk, a dove and an eternal optimist.
Choice quote: “Spring had not come yet when Shimon Peres died this week. In his absence, it may become more difficult to recall the high ideals that drove the Zionists of his generation, the huge sacrifices they made and the huge risks they took to bring Israel into being. His death is a good moment to celebrate Israel’s role as a shining light of learning, freedom, astute diplomacy, the rule of law and human values.”
He was more statesman than politician. He was a link to Israel’s founders. And he helped define a nation.
Shimon Peres worked tirelessly and passionately during a political career that spanned more than six decades, serving twice as prime minister of Israel and later as the country’s ninth president.
Mr. Peres, a Nobel Peace prize laureate, died Wednesday at the age of 93. He had been hospitalized for two weeks after suffering a stroke.He was a vigorous campaigner for peace in the Middle East and is recognized as a central figure in Israeli politics for almost 70 years.
His life reflected the Jewish state to which he devoted his life and world leaders queued up to pay tribute. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is among many dignitaries expected to attend the Friday funeral. Mr. Peres will receive a state burial at Mount Herzel Cemetery in Jerusalem.
Mr. Peres was a key planner of the Oslo peace accords. For that he was jointly awarded a Nobel peace prize in 1994 with then Israeli prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He was the last surviving member of that group.
Mr. Peres is credited with steering Israel through some of its most critical times. This included the creation of a nuclear arsenal, pulling the economy from triple-digit inflation in the 1980s and taking a leery country into peace talks with the Palestinians a decade later.
David J. Cape, chair of the Canadian advocacy group Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said Mr. Peres “embodied the timeless aspiration of the Israeli people for a future in which their children will live in peace and security.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called Mr. Peres a “man of peace and a man dedicated to the well-being of the Jewish people” and great friend to Canada.
Mr. Peres’s son said his father’s legacy was to look to tomorrow, and, by so doing, to honour the past.
He also recalled his father once told him: “You are only as great as the cause you serve.”
Reflecting on Mr. Peres, U.S. President Barack Obama described him as “the essence of Israel itself.” Mr. Obama said “a light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever.”
Mr. Peres remained confident of achieving a peace that remained elusive and that some said was impossible to achieve. He maintained optimistic in the face of gloom and ever positive against all odds,
The world bids adieu to Mr. Peres, but his special legacy of hope remains — needed now as much as ever.