By Enrique Peña Nieto
History tends to recall great figures because of their material or ideological legacy, yet very few also transcend because of their moral leadership. This is undoubtedly an essential quality in these times, when our technical capacity is not always on a par with the knowledge required to guide mankind’s efforts.
Shimon Peres, a close friend of Mexico’s, is one of those great universal figures who have inspired and touched the lives of millions of people, above religious creeds, ethnic origins and political preferences.
That is why today, heads of state and government from all over the world have gathered together in Jerusalem to join in mourning, which forces us to reflect on the future of peace and prosperity we hope to construct as an international community.
The former president of the state of Israel was a leader in every sense of the word. He loved his country and served it with passion. He was also an idealist who, having lived through the war, dared to dream of and promote a future of peace in the Middle East.
During his inaugural speech when he took office as president of Israel in 2007, Peres asked his people to, “Allow me to continue being an optimist. Let me maintain the capacity to dream”. That was his hallmark over seven decades of political life: believing in a better future. He always knew that the pessimist is defeated and that adversity is no excuse for lack of action but rather an invitation to be daring.
He fought tirelessly on behalf of reconciliation between Israelis and Arabs, especially the Palestinian people, on the premise that peace is not won by defeating an enemy but by building it with an ally.
Peres knew that this path would be difficult and that it would require patience, but he was prepared to take it and assume the political costs. As a result of this conviction, in 1994 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, together with the then Prime Minister Isaac Rabin and the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
The former president of the State of Israel was a great ally of Mexico’s, always willing to promote common ground and forms of collaboration. He visited Mexico six times and in various capacities, always contributing to strengthening and projecting the friendship that links our peoples.
I personally had the privilege of meeting him and exchanging ideas with him on six occasions. Each of them was an opportunity to converse and discover the views-always lucid and frank- of one of the architects of contemporay history and a member of the generation of Israel’s founding fathers.
Today, the people of Mexico join the grief of his relatives and friends, the whole of Israel and Jewish people throughout the world, for whom Shimon Peres represents an inspiring figure of unity, leadership and wisdom.
In particular, I would like to express my solidarity with the Jewish community in Mexico, comprising over 50,000 men and women who every day, help build a better country with their talent, patriotism, work ethic and capacity for innovation.
Peres left us a valid legacy and today, more than ever, one that is necessary: above ideologies and party preferences, the function of politics is to seek agreements to create solutions.
I am convinced that the best way to honor the great man that Shimon Peres was is to put into practice the reflection he shared with us when he left the presidency of his country in 2014: “There are still slaves to free, lives to save, justice to defend and a world to defend”.
Rest in peace,Shimon Peres, Israeli leader, universal man and friend of Mexico’s.
Text published in El Universal