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September 22, 2020 3:24 pm

Who’s Who of World Leaders and Celebs Take Part in Virtual Commemoration Marking Four Years Since Death of Israeli Statesman Shimon Peres

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

The late Israeli statesman Shimon Peres. Photo: Nader Daoud / World Economic Forum.

A who’s who of world leaders and celebrities took part in a virtual commemoration ceremony on Tuesday marking four years since the death of legendary Israeli statesman Shimon Peres.

Peres, who held nearly every major political office in Israel over his long life and was celebrated the world over for his peacemaking efforts, which earned him the Nobel Prize, served as the ninth president of Israel from 2007-2014. He died on September 28, 2016, at the age of 93.

Among those who took part in Tuesday’s event were current Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, singer and actress Barbara Streisand and actress Sharon Stone.

Rivlin said of Peres, “Although you are no longer here, the fragments of your beating human spirit can still be felt in the full sense of the word, if you just search for it.”

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Referring to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the president added, “I hope that we will be able to capture and fully live life again and again, so that we can promise a good life for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, so we may be worthy of your memory.”

Netanyahu called his one-time political opponent “unforgettable.”

“Shimon never forgot from where we had come, how far we had come, and he knew that the State of Israel represents indefatigable strength, and so he was sure we would not give up in the face of challenges that come and go, and with that spirit I say also about corona, I say this storm shall pass, and moreover we will emerge even stronger,” he said.

Modi emphasized Peres’ dedication to peace, saying, “President Peres knew the dangers of war, so he made an effort to promote peace. The people of India and Israel will continue to work together to realize his great vision, a vision of a 21st century partnership between our two ancient civilizations — we owe it to him.”

Clinton, whose husband Bill worked closely with Peres on the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, called Peres “extraordinary” and a “global leader who inspired so many of us.”

“I always admired his innovation and creativity, especially when it came to working to achieve peace with Israel’s neighbors and building on the special relationship between Israel and the United States,” she said.

Blair called Peres “a source of inspiration, a role model and a great friend. … I’m sure he would be happy to see Israel’s progress in their relations with the Arab world, especially with the peace deal with the United Arab Emirates.”

“Shimon Peres was a great leader because he had a vision and he was brave,” Blair added. “He was willing to take bold steps to advance the things he believed in and that is what makes a man a great leader.”

Streisand said of Peres, “Even in the darkest of times, when I think about his many years of service to his country and his constant striving for a better Israel, I can’t help but believe that peace is possible. The light of his legacy will continue to shine as a beacon to the world.”

Stone called Peres “my mentor,” adding, “I still feel his hand resting on my shoulders, this hand helps keep my values at the forefront of my consciousness and work.”

“I had the honor of being his friend, I will keep him in my heart forever,” she vowed.

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