He doesn’t lie. He doesn’t say bad things. And when he knocks on my door, he usually has a new idea.” This is how Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion described Shimon Peres to skeptics of the young spitfire, future President of Israel, upon whom he had come to deeply rely. Today, Ben-Gurion’s words also resonate for Peres’s son, Chemi, who sees in them what his father valued most: honesty; morality; and ingenuity.
It is these values that Shimon Peres considered key to successful leadership, the focus of his book No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination, and the Making of Modern Israel, which he finished writing weeks before his passing in 2016. In his book, Peres details his legacy in Israeli politics and his hopes for the future leadership of Israel. On November 15, 2018 at the Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County, we will have the special opportunity to hear Chemi Peres’s presentation of his father Shimon Peres’s book on his extraordinary life and career, as only can be told by a son for his father. Chemi will reveal never-before-heard insights into his father’s role building Israel, as well as his aspirations for Israel’s future. As one of Israel’s foremost venture capital and innovation pioneers, Chemi will also discuss the vision he shared with his father to see Israel as the world leader in technology and upstarts.
Serving in many of the highest political offices in Israel—prime minister, president, foreign minister, and the head of several other ministries – Shimon Peres first stepped onto Israeli soil at 11 years old when he emigrated from Poland in 1934, avoiding the fate of his extended family who remained and later perished in the Holocaust. As a teenager in Tel Aviv, surrounded by relentless Arab sniper attacks, Shimon joined the Haganah—the Zionist military organization under David Ben-Gurion, who subsequently became Peres’s political mentor. Peres spent the next several decades working in the top tier of Israeli politics and serving a crucial role in building the modern state of Israel. In No Room for Small Dreams, Peres explores the most important and intriguing moments in Israel’s modern history through the eyes of someone who not only witnessed it, but was a key player in shaping the young country. His leadership was critical to keeping Israel safe, from his role in the establishment of the Israeli Defense Forces to his groundbreaking efforts towards peace between Israel and its Middle East neighbors. Peres was instrumental in launching Israel’s nuclear energy program and the creation of its high-tech “Start Up Nation” revolution. He pushed the boundaries of traditional political thinking, offering new insights and creative solutions that led to outstanding achievements for Israel—from saving the Israeli economy, to the legendary Operation Entebbe, one of the most daring military operations in history.
What Peres hopes that young leaders can learn from his achievements explored in his book is that leaders can only be successful if they are guided by core values and beliefs. They must believe in themselves, and fight for what is right. They must always be moral, because leadership without morals will lead to disastrous effect. They must be willing to go against the tide, and take a different point of view. While they must learn from the past, their eyes must be focused on building the future. No matter the challenge, no matter the circumstance, hope must remain; because without it, there is no better tomorrow. Leaders must dream, the bigger the better, to make the impossible things possible. They must create, and innovate, and seek good for all. Leaders must believe in miracles, and be willing to fight to realize them.
Shimon Peres’s eternal hope and optimism was a hallmark of who he was, and how he led Israel through the toughest and most extraordinary times. Through his book No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination, and the Making of Modern Israel, he hopes to inspire others to do the same.
Please join us at the Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County on November 15, 2018 for a remarkable presentation by Chemi Peres of his father Shimon Peres’s book, “No Room for Small Dreams: Courage, Imagination, and the Making of Modern Israel”. Please contact Aliza Sable for tickets and more information: 949-435-3400, ext. 305; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beth Bernstein IS a contributing writer to jlife magazine.