What’s red and has a long shelf life?
Salad daysSalad days

What’s red and has a long shelf life?

President visits south, learns that local farmers named a tomato variety after him

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

The president and the tomato (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO)
The president and the tomato (photo credit: Mark Neyman/GPO)

Throughout his long life, President Shimon Peres has received many honors: the Nobel Peace Prize, an honorary knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II, and the American Presidential Medal of Freedom. As of Tuesday, Israel’s elder statesman can add a tomato to that list.

During an official visit in the Sdot Negev regional council, near the Gaza Strip, local farmers surprised the 89-year-old by telling him they had decided to name a new variety of tomato after him.

“It is a great honor to name this new variety of tomato after you as a thank you for your contribution to the country and the residents of the south,” said Zion Cohen, who initiated the idea, according to a press release published by Peres’s office. “This variety has an exceptionally long shelf life and can withstand adverse conditions, qualities which typify you, Mr. President.”

Earlier that day, Peres had visited a local greenhouse in the agricultural community of Tekuma and taken part in a tomato harvest.

“Agriculture in this region is the spearhead of the State of Israel. Under fire you work the land and produce excellent yields,” he told the farmers. “Despite the security challenges, I see prosperity here. I believe that Israel can help the entire region out of poverty through the development of hi-tech agriculture.”

As a teenager, Peres attended the Ben Shemen agricultural school. Later, he lived on Kibbutz Geva for several years.

The president also spoke about the rocket that hit Ashkelon earlier during the day. “Quiet will be met with quiet. They have no interest in raising the flames, but if they fire then they can expect a response,” he said of the Gaza terrorists who fired the rocket.

Last week, Peres received another unusual honor: The residents of Kibbutz Tel Yosef commissioned an artist who specializes on field sketches to etch a giant image of the president’s face in a wheat field.

read more: