On the Passing of Shimon Peres

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
September 28, 2016

Teresa and I join countless friends and admirers around the world in expressing our deep sorrow at the passing of Israeli leader Shimon Peres. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and with the people of Israel as we mourn the loss of one of the world’s greatest statesmen.

Shimon’s life traced his country’s extraordinary journey. He was one of Israel’s founding patriots. He was an immigrant who went on to cultivate the land and plant the seeds of a modern state. He helped ensure Israel could defend itself in times of war, but was always ready to extend a hand to former adversaries. He dedicated his career to unifying and defending Israel and helping his young nation blossom into a beacon of democracy and prosperity in the Middle East. He embodied the friendship and values that are at the heart of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and stood at the forefront of efforts to forge and sustain the unshakable bonds between our countries.

To the world, he was a figure of towering moral credibility, dedicated to finding the path to peace and security among his neighbors. To everyone he met, he was a person of decency and kindness, who spoke of honor and reconciliation even in times of trouble and strife.

I first met Shimon as a young United States Senator some three decades ago and cherished our many conversations during his service as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, in the small private office he used as President, and most recently during the quiet Shabbat dinner we shared soon after his retirement. To the very end, he remained a boundless source of ideas about the future, his focus on finding for the coming generations the peace that had eluded his. He was a great listener who left a legacy of unmatched eloquence. I will never forget sitting near Shimon at the dedication of the William J. Clinton Library, and watching as he scrawled just a few notes on a small piece of paper, before delivering some of the most stirring words about peace that I had ever heard.

Shimon once said that a person’s ultimate goal should be “to find a cause that’s larger than yourself and then to give your life to it.” Shimon embodied this statement. His cause was the independence and security of the State of Israel; his cause was peace for the Jewish people in his community’s ancient homeland; his cause was an Israel that would always be pluralistic, innovative, safe, strong, and free – and he certainly gave every day of his life to that high goal.

Israel lost a founding father; the world lost a warrior for peace and a giant of history; and I, like so many others who had the privilege to know Shimon, lost a dear friend. May his life and legacy continue to inspire everyone who strives for justice and pursues peace. May his memory be a blessing for us all.

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