Shimon Peres, former prime minister of Israel, spoke as part of the Kerschner Family Series Global Leaders at Colgate on Saturday, October 25. Peres was interviewed on stage by journalist Bob Woodruff ’83, P’13. READ MORE
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More about Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres was born in Belarus in 1923, and immigrated to Israel at the age of 11. Growing up in the Labor-Zionist youth movement "HaNo'ar Ha'oved", Peres deeply believed in the creation of a Jewish State. He lived with his family for many years on Kibbutz Alumot, during which time he married Sonia and worked as a shepherd. In 1947, upon David Ben-Gurion's request, Peres was recruited by the Haganah (pre- independence military organization), and he assumed a pivotal role in many state-related missions. Following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 Peres headed the naval services, and in 1949 led a procurement delegation of Israel's Defense Ministry to the United States, undertaking evening studies at the New School for Social Research in parallel. On his return to Israel at the age of 29, he became the Director General of the Ministry of Defense – the youngest ever in Israel's history. As Director General, Peres was a crucial player in the development of Israel's military and aerial industries. Later, the Prime Minister placed Shimon Peres in charge of the establishment of the nuclear reactor in Dimona.
In 1959, Peres was elected to the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) and served as Deputy Minister of Defense under then Prime Minister and Minister of Defense David Ben-Gurion. Ten years later, in 1969, he was appointed Minister of Absorption, and in 1970 served as Minister of Transport and Communications. In 1974, Peres was appointed Minister of Defense, a position that he held until 1977. These critical years saw the rebuilding of the Israeli army following the 1973 War.
After the resignation of Yitzhak Rabin in 1977 Peres became acting Prime Minister, and was later elected Chairman of the Labor Party, running against Menachem Begin in the national elections. When Likud cameto power in 1977, marking the first time in Israel's history that Labor was not the ruling party, Peres served as Head of the Opposition, a position he held until 1984.
Following the establishment of a National Unity Government combining Labor and Likud in 1984, Peres served as Prime Minister (1984 to 1986) and as Minister of Foreign Affairs (1986 to 1988), rotating with Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir. In the subsequent National Unity Government (1988-1990) Peres served as Vice Premier and Minister of Finance, and then led the Opposition in the Knesset from 1990 to 1992.
After the Labor Party's victory under Rabin's leadership, Peres served again as Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1992, and initiated the negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), resulting in the Oslo Accords (Declaration of Principles) which was signed by Shimon Peres and Abu Mazen on the White House lawn on 13th September 1993. Peres, together with Rabin and Arafat, were awarded Nobel Peace Prizes in 1994 for their efforts toward peace. Peres was also involved in Israel's negotiations with Jordan, which commenced immediately following the signing of the Oslo Accords, and were officially signed in October 1994.
Following the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin in 1995, Peres became Prime Minister and Minister of Defense until the May 1996 elections. Following his defeat, Peres invested his efforts in creating and establishing the Peres Center for Peace – a non-government and non-partisan organization that brings Israel and its Arab neighbors closer by means of peacebuilding projects which focus on common social and economic interests, thereby fulfilling his vision of regional cooperation. In July 1999, Peres was appointed Minister of Regional Cooperation in Ehud Barak’s government. In 2001, Peres again assumed the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs, this time in Ariel Sharon’s newly-formed National Unity Government, a position he held until November 2002. Peres was re-elected as Chairman of the Labor Party in June 2003 and served as Head of the Opposition. In January 2005, as Head of the Labor Party, Peres once again joined Sharon's government and served as Vice Prime Minister during the disengagement from Gaza. In November 2005, Shimon Peres left the Labor Party to join Sharon's new party, Kadima. Following Kadima's victory in the 2006 elections, Peres served as Vice Prime Minister and Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee.
In June 2007, Peres was elected to serve as the 9th President of the State of Israel, a position he still holds today. In June 2012, Peres was awarded the highest US award in the realm of peace by President Barack Obama, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Peres has authored numerous books and articles. His standing and reputation have earned him international recognition among the nations and leaders of the world. His standing and reputation have earned him international recognition among the nations and leaders of the world. He ended his presidency on July 24, 2014.
More about Bob Woodruff '83, P'13
Bob Woodruff joined ABC News in 1996 and has covered major stories for the network throughout the country and around the world. He was named co-anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight in December 2005. On January 29, 2006, while reporting on U.S. and Iraqi security forces, Mr. Woodruff was seriously injured by a roadside bomb that struck his vehicle near Taji, Iraq.
In February 2007, just 13 months after being wounded in Iraq, Mr. Woodruff returned to ABC News with his first on-air report, To Iraq and Back: Bob Woodruff Reports. The hour-long, primetime documentary chronicled his traumatic brain injury, painstaking recovery, and the plight of thousands of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with similar injuries. Mr. Woodruff continues to cover traumatic brain injuries and was honored with a Peabody Award in 2008 for his reporting on the subject.
Before moving to New York in 2002, Mr. Woodruff worked out of ABC News’ London Bureau. After the September 11 attacks, he was among the first Western reporters into Pakistan and was one of ABC’s lead foreign correspondents during the war in Afghanistan, reporting from Kabul and Kandahar on the fall of the Taliban. His overseas reporting of the fallout from September 11 was part of ABC News’ coverage recognized with the Alfred I. duPont Award and the George Foster Peabody Award, the two highest honors in broadcast journalism.
Prior to becoming a journalist, Mr. Woodruff was an attorney. In 1989, while teaching law in Beijing, he was hired by CBS News to work as a translator during the Tiananmen Square uprising, and a short time later he changed careers. As ABC’s Justice Department correspondent in Washington in the late 1990s, Mr. Woodruff covered the office of Attorney General Janet Reno, the FBI and the ATF. In 1999 he reported from Belgrade and Kosovo during the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia. Since then he has reported extensively on Europe and the Middle East.
In February 2007, Mr. Woodruff and his wife Lee published the best-selling memoir In An Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing, chronicling his injuries in Iraq and how their family persevered through a time of intense trauma and uncertainty. The Woodruff family also established the Bob Woodruff Foundation to help heal the physical and hidden wounds of war by providing resources and support to injured service members, veterans and their families. In July 2008, Woodruff began anchoring Focus Earth, a weekly eco-newscast for Planet Green, Discovery Communications’ 24/7 eco-lifestyle network.
Mr. Woodruff has a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and a B.A. from Colgate University. He and his wife Lee have four children.