A personal appreciation of a leader who touched more Israeli lives than any other, and certainly affected mine
By David Horovitz | The Times of Israel
When you work with a country’s founding prime minister at the very start of its statehood, and you’re still its iconic elder statesman seven decades later, you’re going to impact a lot of people’s lives. Directly and indirectly, Shimon Peres surely affected the lives of more Israelis than anybody else. And if we haven’t yet become the nation at peace that he strove for us to become, it surely wasn’t for the lack of his trying.
Looking back through clips today, I realize I must have interviewed Shimon Peres more than I’ve interviewed anybody else. Year after year when he was president; a few years ago onstage at the Jewish Federations General Assembly in Jerusalem; at a world Jewish media summit here in 2014; at The Times of Israel’s Gala in New York last year in front of 1,200 people, and a few more times besides. And I only knew him in the latter stages of his extraordinary life.
The consistent theme in his conversations, in the presidential years and beyond, was that peace is attainable. He would argue, even in the darkest of periods, that Mahmoud Abbas is “absolutely” a partner for peace. He would implicitly criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and others, for not doing enough to advance it. “If you’ve decided on a Palestinian state, then you have to make that decision happen,” he told me once, asking plaintively, “So what’s the alternative? That there be one state and the majority will determine its nature?”