During his trip to the US, President Shimon Peres won’t just be talking tachlis with his American counterpart, Barack Obama. He will also schmooze with some of the most powerful people in the world outside of politics — the founders of Facebook and Google, a legendary Hollywood director, and many other (mostly Jewish) machers.
Having arrived in New York Wednesday morning, Israel’s veteran statesman kicked off his 11-day tour with an interview on “The View” with Barbara Walters. Before he moves on to Washington for the weekend, he has a series of meetings lined up with American journalists, Jewish community leaders and officials.
On Sunday, Peres will open the annual conference of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, where he will be receive a lifetime achievement award. After meeting with Obama, with whom he is set to discuss the Iranian threat, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the current upheavals in the region, he is scheduled to fly to California for dozens of meeting with Silicon Valley movers and shakers and Hollywood moguls.
One of the trip’s highlights will be when Peres meets Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. The 88-year-old Peres and the world’s youngest billionaire will together launch a new Facebook page for Israel’s president, in a bid to promote peace. “The site will appeal to all citizens of the world, especially young people from Arab countries with whom Israel has no diplomatic relations,” the President’s Residence announced in a statement. Peres invites surfers to befriend him, ask questions, and suggest ways to advance peace “between people, not just between governments,” according to the statement. Peres will also meet with Facebook’s No. 2 official, Sheryl Sandberg.
Before leaving the Bay Area for Los Angeles, Peres will tour the headquarters of Google as the personal guest of the web giant’s co-founder, Sergey Brin.
Moving on to Tinseltown, Peres will tour the studios and editing rooms of DreamWorks Animation, the people behind such films as the “Shrek” series, “Madagascar” and “Bee Movie.” After meeting with the company’s co-founders, Steven Spielberg and Jeffrey Katzenberg, the president will have lunch with “tens of heads of studios such as Warner Bros., Universal and Fox,” the President’s Residence announced.
But before Peres can focus on high-tech and Hollywood, he has to figure out what message he wants to send to the American political leadership, especially with regards to Iran. After last week’s confusion about what he intends, or doesn’t intend, to say to Obama, he will certainly choose his words carefully.
Haaretz reported last week that Peres intended to tell Obama counterpart that he opposes an Israeli strike on Iran. But after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were reportedly displeased with the statements, Peres denied having such an intention. Speaking at a conference of American-Jewish community leaders, he added that a nuclear Iran would be a catastrophe and that when “we say all options are on the table, we really mean it.”