AFP — Israel begins marking one year since the death of former president Shimon Peres this week with memorial events, at a time when the respected statesman’s memoir is also being released.
Peres’s death last year led to an outpouring of grief and tributes from leaders worldwide, many of whom also attended the Nobel peace prize winner’s funeral in Jerusalem.
Tuesday will see the publication of his memoir “No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination and the Making of Modern Israel.”
Peres had completed work on the book just weeks before his death at 93 on September 28, 2016, according to the publishers.
In the book, Peres maps out his journey from his small Polish village as a child, touching on major events such as the 1948 war surrounding Israel’s creation.
He dwells on the “legend and legacy of Dimona” — the southern city that hosts Israel’s nuclear facilities, which Peres helped spearhead.
Further chapters are dedicated to Operation Entebbe, the Ugandan city where Israel carried out a raid to free hostages held by German and Palestinian hijackers in 1976; Israel’s start-up technology, which held a special fascination for Peres; and peace efforts.
“At the time of this writing, we face new dangers. A decline in tolerance. A rise in nationalism. A world at the height of prosperity that is not widely shared,” Peres writes in the epilogue, noting that despite such negative forces, “I remain optimistic”.
“Not only because it is my nature, but because I can see the countervailing winds blowing in the direction of progress. We are in transition from the age of territory to the age of science,” he says.
On the Middle East, Peres writes that “We may soon find that peace is made possible not through negotiation but through innovation.”
“I don’t regret any of my dreams,” he writes. “My only regret is not having dreamed more.”
A series of events have been planned by Israel to mark a year since his death, and a stamp was issued on Monday in his memory.
Israel’s Peres Center for Peace will on Wednesday host President Reuven Rivlin and heads of global corporations for a conference on innovation, with former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger attending a reception that night.
The official state memorial for Peres will take place at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl national cemetery on Thursday.
Saturday marks the anniversary of Peres’s death according to the Hebrew calendar.
In a career spanning seven decades, Peres held nearly every major office, serving twice as prime minister and lastly as president from 2007 to 2014.
He won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with the late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for his role in negotiating the Oslo peace accords, which envisioned an independent Palestinian state.
Peres was also an architect of Israel’s nuclear programme, with the country now considered the Middle East’s sole nuclear-armed nation, although it has never declared it.
While Peres is hailed in the West as a peacemaker, many in the Arab world, including among the Palestinians, regard him with mixed feelings.
They have cited his involvement in successive Arab-Israeli wars and his support for settlement building before his work on Oslo. He was also premier in 1996 when more than 100 civilians were killed by Israeli shellfire while sheltering at a UN peacekeepers’ base in the Lebanese village of Qana.