Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, Barbra Streisand, former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sharon Stone and numerous other dignitaries and celebrities headlined a gala event celebrating the 90th birthday of Israeli President Shimon Peres, attended by more than 2,500 VIP guests.
In addition to the numerous presentations, video birthday greetings were sent by U.S. President Barack Obama, Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon, Nobel-Prize winning writer Elie Wiesel, U2 front man Bono, German Chancellor Angela Markel, French President Francois Hollander, King of Spain Juan Carlos, Former Soviet Statesman Mikhail Gorbachev, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The program included numerous musical and dance performances by renowned Israeli artists, and was highlighted by Barbra Streisand’s moving performance of the Hebrew song, Avinu Malkeinu, President Peres' personal request. She also sang her classic song People. "I admire Shimon for who he is," she said, "Always willing to challenge the status quo, always willing to risk his all for what is right. He knows that the key to a better tomorrow is the fact that we are more alike than different, and that we share a common bond that links us all."
Tony Blair, Former U.K. Prime Minister
“[Peres] is the youngest 90 year old I know.”
“You [Peres] are one of the greatest global statesmen of our age.”
“We in Britain have our Queen and you [Israel] have your Shimon.”
“Tonight we do not celebrate the President’s age we celebrate his character. His dreams are continuously leading us forward to tomorrow.”
Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel
“In general, when a man gets older and looks at his life he looks at the past however, you look to the future…you don’t stop dreaming.”
“Peace favors the strong, nobody makes peace with the weak. We have learned this, and Shimon Peres has devoted his life to build Israel and to build peace. A strong Israel creates a possibility for peace. We extend our hand in peace to our neighbors, all of them, but we are always ready to defend ourselves. This is what I’ve learned from Shimon - look to the future, remember the past, be prepared for peace and be prepared to defend yourself.”
Bill Clinton, Former U.S. President
“Tonight we pay tribute to the last living Israeli who knew Kind David.”
“We have been friends now for more than two decades, we’ve buried people we love together, celebrated great hopes, endured great disappointments….what I love most about you is the great combination of mind and heart which has always allowed you to be big.”
“You are the world’s social Einstein, you have tried to put together a unified theory of meaning to unite politics and philosophy and history and science and technology. You never stop reminding us that what we have in common is more important than our differences. Every one of us who has been blessed to know you has been made a little bigger, a little stronger and a little more optimistic that someday your theory will come to fruition in this holy land and all of the world. On your 90th birthday what we really celebrate is your great gift to all of us.”
Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel
“I have learned that a dream is only the beginning of a better tomorrow. And this is the spirit of the gathering which we open tonight. Making the dream of tomorrows – today's agenda.”
“Our work is not yet complete. We came to the Promised Land and now we must make it a land of promise. Into an exemplary country, Israel is small in territory but can be great in justice. We must make it into a country where no-one goes hungry. A country in which every child has access to quality education. From the day they are born and throughout their entire life. A nation in which the majority governs but the minority always enjoys full and equal rights. A country which welcomes different opinions but rejects all forms of discrimination whether based on religion, nationality, ethnicity or gender. A society which respects the weak and is kind to the foreigner, which cares for the orphan and the widow, the old and the sick. A country of solidarity and tolerance. But a country with zero-tolerance for violence, corruption and bullying.”
“We long for peace with our neighbors. The yesterday between us and the Palestinians is full of sadness. I believe that the Israel and Palestine of tomorrow can offer our children a ray of hope. The advancement of peace will complete the march of Israel towards the fulfillment of its founding vision - an exemplary and thriving country, a country living in peace and security in its homeland and among its neighbors.”
Facing Tomorrow 2013 takes place from June 18-20, 2013 at Jerusalem's International Convention Center. The conference is organized in partnership with Hebrew University.
About Facing Tomorrow 2013
The Fifth Israeli Presidential Conference 'Facing Tomorrow' will be held from June 18-20, 2013. The first conference took place in May 2008, one week after Israel celebrated its 60th year of independence, and on the basis of its success became an annual event. The conference is centered on discussions, panels and plenary sessions aimed at answering one question: how can we foster a better tomorrow for the international community, Israel and the Jewish world. For more information, please visit www.presidentconf.org.il.