Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein issued the following statement:
The ZOA sends our sincere condolences to the family of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres on the passing last night of their beloved father, grandfather and great-grandfather.
Peres made enormous contributions to rebuilding Israel, from a deserted wasteland into the revitalized Jewish State. In “I Am Jewish: Personal Reflections Inspired by the Last Words of Daniel Pearl,” a book of essays edited by Judea and Ruth Pearl (the parents of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was beheaded by Islamist terrorists), Peres eloquently wrote about what being part of the Jewish State’s revival meant to him:
“Despite everything, even this meager wave of immigration [the Aliyah of Jews returning to Israel in 1882-1914] exercised a miracle: For the first time in history, a people who left, or was banished from, their country, was revived and started gathering in the land of their forbears. Never had such an extraordinary event been witnessed until then, nor did it take place since, with any other people.
Eretz Yisrael [the land of Israel] was desolate, devastated, its land reluctant and tired, land with practically no water. Despite the lack of experience, and infertility of the soil, the standard of agriculture that developed in Israel is today perceived by many to be the highest in the world. Not only did the desert bloom, but new and amazing cooperative frameworks were also built . . . .
And as the barren land was tilled, war broke out. Israel was attacked by forces that were far superior – both in numbers and in arms [6 Arab countries] – whereas the barely born state [of Israel] was desperately short of arms, and its army practically nonexistent. The land of the Jews was attacked five times, and all five ended in victory. Once again, a people lacking in military tradition, and in the face of an unequal balance of strategic military power, created an army which, in this case as well, is recognized as one of the best in the world.
I saw the ploughs and I saw the rifles. And nowadays, I see modern microscopes in [Israel’s] universities that shed light on atoms invisible to the naked eye, making it possible to build a whole new world. What could be more fulfilling, more riveting, more just, than to be a part of such a people?”
We are truly grateful for Peres’ extraordinary contributions to Israel’s security, including helping to arm the previously defenseless Jewish people, fathering Israel’s aircraft industry, and serving in numerous government posts.
We also remember the strong disappointment Shimon Peres felt that his vision for peace with the Arabs remained unfulfilled. Peres had hoped and believed that his Oslo Agreement with Yasser Arafat would have finally brought the peace he and all the Jewish people desperately wanted and relentlessly worked for. His hopes were shattered by the continuous refusal by the Palestinian Authority and its people to accept Israel as a Jewish State and their relentless promotion of hatred and violence against Israel and the Jewish people in their media, schools, and speeches.
However, today we applaud and appreciate all of the magnificent achievements of Israel’s great and visionary leader Shimon Peres during his lifetime of service to our people and the Jewish Homeland.