President Barack Obama is in Israel for the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres, pointing out that both he and Peres had “unlikely” lives.
“I think our friendship was rooted in the fact that I could somehow see myself in his story, and maybe he could see himself in mine,” he said.
Obama reminded the audience that Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas was present at the funeral, calling it “a gesture and a reminder of the unfinished business of peace.”
“He insisted that as human beings, Palestinians must be seen as equal in dignity to Jews and thus therefore be equal in self-determination,” he said, referring to an independent state for Palestinians.
Obama explained that Peres pursued peace because he was a dreamer but lamented that it was never achieved.
“Shimon never saw is dream of peace fulfilled. The region is going through a chaotic time, threats are ever present, and yet he did not stop dreaming and he did not stop working,” he said.
Obama disparaged the “cynics” who worked by soundbites and polls, praising Peres for pursuing the arc of history, instead of the politics of the moment.
Obama finished his speech in Hebrew, saying: Todah rabah, chaver yakar — “thank you, dear friend.”