Remembering Shimon Peres
Former Israel Prime Minister Shimon Peres, H’97, died on Sept. 28 in Tel Aviv at age 93. The last member of Israel’s founding generation to serve in public office, Peres was a complex figure who achieved the status of elder statesman at a time when most of his contemporaries and opponents had long since left the political stage.
Peres was a key figure in Israel’s nuclear armament and was a leader in the state's efforts toward establishing peace with its Arab neighbors. Along with Yitzak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, Peres was a chief architect of the 1993 Oslo Accords in which Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization agreed to mutual recognition. Peres visited the Brandeis campus in 1994, the same year he, Rabin and Arafat received the Nobel Peace Price. In 1997, Brandeis awarded him an honorary degree. Peres served as Israel’s prime minister twice and as its president and head of its Defense Ministry.
BrandeisNOW spoke with Yehudah Mirsky, associate professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, and a former official of the U.S. State Department, about Peres’ significance to Israel and the world.
BrandeisNOW: What is Peres’ legacy to Israel?
Yehudah Mirsky: Peres’ legacy is large and certainly complicated, and it will be remembered and contested over time. On the one hand, he is a figure that has been lodged at the center of Israeli policy for decades. He never served in the Israeli army but headed its Defense Ministry, one of a number of ways in which he was central to Israeli society while at the same time running alongside of it.