The United Nations’ top officials joined with Israel’s envoys to the world body for a ceremony commemorating Israel’s former president, Shimon Peres, who died Wednesday.
A ceremony held Thursday at UN headquarters in New York saw Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, American Ambassador Samantha Power and envoys from over 40 other countries stand for a minute’s silence in tribute to the former would-be peacemaker.
Israel’s Ambassador Danny Danon, who organized the gathering, described Peres as an optimist and a visionary. “President Peres, one of our founding fathers, was a man of vision and optimism who dedicated his life to the State of Israel. He contributed so much to Israel’s safety and security and never lost hope. This symbolizes the story of Zionism.
Danon added: “After years of representing the true face of Israel to the world, today the parliament of nations has gathered to pay their respects…. President Peres will continue to inspire us all. His leadership will be missed as someone who worked to realize the dream of security and peace for Israel.”
Power recalled Peres’s tutelage under his patron, Israel’s first prime minister David Ben-Gurion.
She quoted Peres: “From him I learned that the vision of the future should shape the agenda for the present; that one can overcome obstacles by dint of faith; that one may feel disappointment – but never despair. And above all, I learned that the wisest consideration is the moral one.”
“These were the principles by which Shimon Peres lived his life,” Power added, “and it guided his service to his country, both inside and outside of government. But most of all, Shimon Peres was a believer in and a builder of peace. Peres believed that peace also had to be rooted in what he called moral vision, which he traced back to the Book of Books, and its ‘message that the one, invisible God created Man in His image, and hence there are no higher and lower orders of man.’ This belief – that all fellow human beings are created equal, are imbued with fundamental dignity, and are entitled to inalienable rights – not only drove his overarching efforts to achieve peace, but also was reflected in the compassion he brought to every individual interaction.”
Israel’s Mission to the UN left a condolence book for envoys to sign. Signatories on Thursday included Ban Ki-Moon.
The book will be made available to the general public in the near future, the mission said.
The ceremony ended with the singing of a traditional Jewish hymn for the deceased, “El Male Rachamim” – “God full of mercy.”