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The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

Statement by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice on the Passing of President Shimon Peres

I am deeply saddened by the passing of former President Shimon Peres, Israel’s national treasure and one of its last remaining founders.  A son of the shtetl who rose to become one of the world’s most beloved and respected statesmen, President Peres’ life was the life of the state of Israel—vibrant, courageous, determined.

Over the course of a political career that spanned more than six decades, a dozen cabinets, and ten American presidents, President Peres inspired generations with his profound commitment to his country.  He was dreamer and a doer, working to make the desert bloom and build the state of Israel brick by brick.  He was a warrior who helped secure Israel against its adversaries and a peacemaker who knew, as he liked to say, that there are no hopeless situations, only hopeless people—falling ill 23 years to the day that he joined President Clinton, Prime Minister Rabin, and Yasir Arafat for that historic handshake on the White House lawn.  He was also, as he would happily remind you, an excellent cow-milker and shepherd in his kibbutznik days.

The unbreakable alliance between the United States and Israel stands as an enduring tribute to President Peres’ years of diplomacy and eloquent advocacy on Israel’s behalf.  I’m proud to have called him a cherished friend, a wise and steadying presence during difficult times. 

As the inventor of the eminently quotable “Peres-ism,” President Peres once observed that “Optimists and pessimists die the same way.  They just live differently.  I prefer to live as an optimist.”  For 93 years, he did just that—enriching the state of Israel and the world with his light, his laughter, and his abiding loyalty to the land he loved.  I extend my deepest condolences to President Peres’ children Zvia, Yoni, and Chemi and to their families.  In the words of the Jewish tradition President Peres valued so deeply, we pray that his memory be a blessing.