AIPAC began its annual Policy Conference today with moving remarks by Chemi Peres and Yousef Qaraja, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy who was born with a heart defect and treated through a healthcare program that was initiated by President Shimon Peres and works to save children's lives. Qaraja: "For me and for my friend Shimon Peres- continue working toward peace"
At the opening of the conference, AIPAC screened a video that they produced, documenting the story of Yousef Qaraja's life saving treatment:
On-stage in front of 20,000 attendees, Chemi Peres, the son of the late Ninth President Shimon Peres, and Yousef Qaraja, a Palestinian boy from Halhul, whose life was saved over ten years ago by undergoing complex cardiac surgery in Israel through one of the Peres Center's medicine and healthcare initiatives, met and addressed the audience. Qaraja: "For me and for my friend Shimon Peres, I ask that you continue working to make peace"
Chemi Peres said: "I have never been so proud to be my father's son. He was one of the forefathers of the State of Israel and worked to establish the Israeli defense industry. My father devoted his life to peacebuilding; he believed that through innovation, medicine and education, peace could be achieved, and he believed that science and technology could be harnessed in the service of Tikkun Olam."
Chemi added: "My father said, 'Let us dream big, let us make the world a better place'; I invite everyone to take part in realizing the vision of my father, the Ninth President of the State of Israel, Shimon Peres."
This year, AIPAC has chosen to begin the conference's plenary session by presenting the Peres Center's "Saving Children" program, which has saved the lives of around 12,000 Palestinian children through providing medical treatment in Israel.
Photo provided by The Peres Center for Peace