Former Israeli President Shimon Peres, an ardent admirer of India

By: | Published: September 28, 2016 3:53 PM

Shimon Peres, former Israeli President who died today, was an ardent admirer of India and its leaders and always supported the country for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

Shimon Peres-l-reuPeres often mentioned how fascinating it was to read Gandhi’s autobiography and Nehru’s Discovery of India which were also translated to Hebrew in the 40s. (Source: Reuters)

Shimon Peres, former Israeli President who died today, was an ardent admirer of India and its leaders and always supported the country for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

The 93-year-old statesman, who enjoyed worldwide acceptance but was seen as a polarising figure at home during a major part of his political career, was inspired by Indian greats – Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru.

He often described Gandhi as a “prophet” and Nehru a “king” and said that “India was fortunate to be blessed with two great and unforgettable leaders”.

Peres often mentioned how fascinating it was to read Gandhi’s autobiography and Nehru’s Discovery of India which were also translated to Hebrew in the 40s.

“For us India is first of all a culture. Then it is for us the greatest democracy on earth and then the unbelievable achievement of overcoming poverty without becoming poor in freedom,” the Nobel laureate had told the then Foreign Minister S M Krishna in 2012.

“I wish that India would become a permanent member of the Security Council,” Peres had emphasised while serving as the President of Israel.

He reiterated the same belief several times on different occasions, but it is not necessarily a position that the Israeli political establishment backs given India’s traditional voting pattern at the UN which favours resolutions in favour of the Palestinians.

“We are following India with great care and interest, not just in the political sense but being a citizen of the world,” he had said.

The Israeli President also often appreciated India’s model of pluralism and co-existence calling upon the world to learn from the Indian experience.

“India has grown consistently with its commitment to democracy and cultural values. The rest of the world could take pride in the history of pluralism and tolerance in India,” he once remarked.

“India is a unique example of a nation that has achieved high economic growth consistent with its cultural values”, Peres had emphasised.

The Israeli leader would also often mention “the ethical and moral standing” India enjoyed in the world community while talking about strengthening ties between the two countries. Peres dies this morning in his sleep after suffering a massive stroke two weeks ago.

Peres as Minister for Regional Cooperation had visited India twice, in August 2000 and January 2001. He visited India for the third time in January, 2002 as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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