US President Barack Obama toasts with former president Shimon Peres
US President Barack Obama toasts with former president Shimon Peres after Obama was presented with the Presidential Medal of Distinction, Israel’s highest civilian honor, in Jerusalem, March 21, 2013. (photo credit:REUTERS)


US President Barack Obama mourned the death of Shimon Peres on Tuesday night, calling him a friend whose moral imagination “changed the course of human history.”

The death of the late statesman– former president of Israel, a Nobel Laureate for his peace efforts with the Palestinians and one of the nation’s founding fathers– was announced on Tuesday night after his struggle with the fallout from a stroke.

“He was guided by a vision of the human dignity and progress that he knew people of goodwill could advance together,” Obama said. “He brought young people from around the world together because he knew they could carry us closer to our ideals of justice and equality.”

Obama first met Peres, who died at age 93, visiting Jerusalem as a senator from Illinois. “Shimon was the essence of Israel itself,” Obama said– “the courage of Israel’s fight for independence, the optimism he shared with his wife Sonya as they helped make the desert bloom, and the perseverance that led him to serve his nation in virtually every position in government across the entire life of the State of Israel.”

The president awarded Peres the Medal of Freedom, the US’ highest civilian honor, in 2012.

“As Americans, we are in his debt because, having worked with every US president since John F. Kennedy, no one did more over so many years as Shimon Peres to build the alliance between our two countries,” Obama continued– “an unbreakable alliance that today is closer and stronger than it has ever been.”

A “soldier for the Jewish people,” Obama offered final thanks for the gift of his friendship and the “example of his leadership.”

“Todah rabah, Shimon,” Obama said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that “Peres was, above all, a man of peace and a man dedicated to the well-being of the Jewish people.

“Over the course of his long and distinguished life, Mr. Peres made enormous contributions to the founding and building of the State of Israel. He was devoted to promoting understanding between his country and its neighbours, and shared a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to create peace in the Middle East.

“Mr. Peres was an internationally-respected statesman and a great friend to Canada. He visited our country often, and helped build relations that remain strong to this day.

“His legacy as a tireless advocate for peace will not be forgotten,” Trudeau said.

Israel’s Ambassador at the United Nations Danny Danon and Israeli Consul General in New York Dani Dayan expressed their sorrow on the passing Shimon Peres on Tuesday night, calling him a “man of hope” and a “giant”.

“Shimon Peres was a giant of the generation that dreamed of the national liberation of the Jewish People, and made that dream a reality,” Dayan said in a statement. “All through his life, as a civil servant, a minister and as the Prime Minister, Peres fought tirelessly for the peace, the prosperity and the protection of the Jewish State – we owe him more than we can say.”

“Unto his last day, Shimon never stopped dreaming of a better future for Israel, for the Middle East and for the world. This dream of a better future is his will and testament to us all,” he added.

At the United Nations, Danon added that Peres’s life “embodied the narrative of the modern State of Israel.”

“Like the Zionist movement itself, Shimon Peres combined a lifetime of endless contributions to the security of the Jewish state, while never losing hope in a better tomorrow,” he said.  “We will always remember Shimon Peres for imbuing in us a never-ending sense of possibility of an even brighter future for the State of Israel.”

Danon added that Israel’s Mission to the United Nations will open a Condolence Book in memory of the former President, for community leaders and diplomats in New York to express their condolences.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post