A great human being and Zionist leader left his earthly abode last night, September 27, the 25th of Elul in the Jewish Calendar, the anniversary of the creation of the Universe according to Jewish tradition, and Shimon Peres was a universalist, he belonged to mankind. If it had been decreed in the heavens last Rosh HaShanah that he die that year, he was given the longest extension until a few hours before the onset of Rosh HaShanah 5777.
While others observed and saw with their eyes, Peres perceived with his heart and intellect, because he had vision. Had he lived millenia ago, his name would surely have been included among the first visionaries, the Prophets of Israel.
Some of his original ideas did not have an echo among the leaders of the region. He spoke about the State of Israel becoming the locomotive of the Middle East, with sufficient energy to pull the entire region toward futher progress and development. But for this to happen, peace in the region was indispensable, and that was not to occur in his lifetime. However, the world at large did recognize his conviction by honoring him with the Nobel Peace Prize.
Peres attained the highest political poisitions in Israel, including that of President and Prime Minister, eventhough he had difficulty in obtaining sufficient votes in an election. You see, Peres was not a populist, he was a pragmatist, but every day affairs were not in the front burner of Peres’ personality.
He was the main architect, or certainly one of the builders of the Dimona complex, a nuclear center that the State of Israel does not openly confirm, but that has, nevertheless, served as a deterrent against any irresponsible adventure by Israel’s neighbors.
Years ago, Peres visited our community in Caracas and I had the privilege of serving as his interpreter. I translated into Spanish several of his speeches. This fact permitted me to be closer to him and appreciate his vast knowledge and keen intellect.
A couple of years ago, a group from Televen, led by Omar Camero traveled to Israel and its many activities included an interview with Shimon Peres. The interviewer was Carlos Croes, but once again I served as an interpreter. This program was later on televized a couple of times in Caracas.
The closenes to Shimon Peres on these occasions permitted me to value even more his gifts and some of his opinions have accompanied me since. In fact, Peres had a way of phrasing an issue that converted his words in a ready headline.
I repeat only one such gem. The State of Israel, he was fond of saying is rich in History but poor in Geography. We are ready to share some of our History, but when Geography is demanded of us, we cannot respond in the manner our neighbors would want us to do. The fact is that Israel cannot grow horizontally, that means it must grow vertically, where only the sky is the limit. Israel must grow in the sciences, in technology. And above all, Israel must develop socially and spiritually. It must look to the heavens, it must look El Al, as the name of its airline suggests, so that it may fulfill its role as Or laGoyim, “a light unto the nations” as its tradition indicates.
May we remember the example he showed by a materially modest life, that was accompanied by a rich intellectual and spiritual conduct, a model for future generations.
Tehe zichro Baruch, his memory is surely a blessing for the Jewish people and for mankind.