Dream come true

Yona Bartal
Filed on March 11, 2021
Yona Bartal, President of The Commercial & Industrial Club in Israel and Founder and Executive Director of the Peres Circle at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation

On one hand, we have the Covid-19 pandemic, economic crisis, political complications and street protests, but on the other hand, dreams of peace are being fulfilled through the recent peace treaties signed with Arab states. Everyone has been asking me: "Yona, what would Peres have said about the new Middle East, which he spoke of and dreamt about? What would he have done in such a chaotic situation?"

On September 23, we commemorated four years since Peres' passing. I can only imagine how happy it would make him, to hear of the peace treaties Israel signed with the UAE and Bahrain.

Peres and Netanyahu had a relationship of mutual respect, and I am sure that Peres would have joined him to sign those treaties in Washington. I can only begin to imagine the speech he would have given, with glowing eyes and a feeling of eternal joy and hope that his dream would be fulfilled until completion.

On the other hand, when the hand on the national compass begins to spin, when everyone waits for someone to take charge and lead us to the realms of hope, Peres' absence is echoing loudly. Looking back at the difficult times we have been through in the Middle East - its revival, wars and huge inflations - we need to acknowledge the strong and brave generations of our founding fathers, many great figures whose beliefs were passed onto Peres.

As we can recall, in the 1950s, when there was hardly food to eat in Israel, Peres declared his 'wild' idea of creating a nuclear reactor. Levi Eshkol responded to him: "Young man, swim well, drown even better, you won't see a penny from me." Peres listened, smiled, took off to France, and the rest is history.

In the '80s, when the inflation in Israel was rising, product prices were updated at least twice a day and the economy was close to crashing, Peres guided us to a great revolution together with philanthropist Stanley Fisher and then finance minister, Yitzhak Moda'I z"l. During a government meeting, tens of millions were cut from the budget of the government ministries. However, he cared about what was good for the country and he was ready to pay the price, and by doing so he saved the economy.

I remember how his eyes glowed at the ceremony when he signed the peace treaty with Jordan. Today, when the new Middle East that Peres envisioned begins to take shape, we need to remember that without the foundation of treaties that were made with Egypt and Jordan, even without Oslo, it wouldn't have been possible.

Peres always spoke about the future. He promoted innovation, nanotechnology and brain sciences. He was hypnotised by the groundbreaking scientists and he knew that only from them our world would receive relief. Today, we are looking towards them, the labs that work hard to find a vaccine for coronavirus, hoping they will bring salvation.

Even if there will be a vaccine, someone will need to direct this ship towards a gesture of hope, to capture the hearts of the nation, to give us all hugs, patch the shards, and do all of this with great love.

Shimon, you are missed by the country and by me.

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