Speaking, last night, at the Herzliya Conference, Israeli President Shimon Peres spoke about many different topics.
Speaking briefly of the Palestinians, Peres discussed the Palestinians’ state-building enterprises, and the efforts they are making to build a state and achieve peace. Peres emphasized that the enemy of the Palestinians is Hamas; not Israel.
Discussing the topic of globalization and technology, he said, “Globalization is not an ideology. Globalization is a new situation, almost without any borders, without any distance… [Today] the source of income is not land; it’s science. Science is not conquered by an army. Science is not being stopped in the customs.” Today’s leaders must focus on “innovations not accrued assets.”
Peres spoke about the morality of the Israeli Defense Force. “The IDF,” he said, “is an army of values.” Speaking of Israel’s recent rescue mission to Haiti, he said, “I believe that if there had been an earthquake in Mauritania, where there’s no TV, I’m sure that the IDF would have been there. It is our wish to serve life, serve the living.” He spoke of the military as a tzva ha’am, a military of the people. He described the IDF as a “wonderful school,” and stated his dream that every soldier should complete their army service with a B.A.
Peres spoke of the chutzpah of the Jews. The Jews are 0.2% of the world population, yet 52% of chess champions and 54% of Nobel Prize winners are Jewish. Jews are 2% of the U.S. population, yet 34% of large business owners are Jewish. Jews are never satisfied. Using events from the story of the Exodus from Egypt as an anecdote, Peres explained that it is this eternal “dis-satisfaction” that is the source of Jewish creativity.
In discussing the way Israel is viewed in the world, he joked that Israel, “is the most popular country in the world.” India likes Israel because they, too, suffer from terrorism. China admires Israel, not because of Moses, Abraham, or Marx, but because of Israel’s agricultural achievements and agricultural technology. 62% of the American population supports Israel. Much of Russia supports Israel, as well, after 1.2 million Russians emigrated to Israel, leaving family and friends in the “old country” with ties to Israel.
Peres, also, addressed Iran. Israel, he said, is not the biggest danger in the Middle East; Iran is. Iran, he explained, has two main problems. The first problem is that of the enriched uranium. The second, is the “oppressive regime.” Commenting on the two problems, he said, “I don’t know which one of the two is the most dangerous.” Ahmadinejad acts like a “king,” when in fact he is no more than a “dictator.” The regime, governed by a dictatorship, fires upon unarmed protesters, threatens Israel, denies the Holocaust, finances terrorism, and impoverishes its own country. The regime is “a climax of moral corruption.” Therefore, Peres exclaimed, the world should oppose Iran on moral grounds. Iran, he said is “the source of evil for the peace- and freedom-loving world.”
Peres ended his with a call for social justice and tikun olam.