Bill's Speeches

CONDOLENCE MOTION FOR SHIMON PERES - HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA - MONDAY, 10 OCTOBER 2016

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Today we pay our respects to the last of Israel's founding generation

A youthful prodigy, an elder statesman, an icon, a magnetic orator, a deep thinker, a servant of peace.

I had the privilege of meeting with him on a number of occasions, including with Chloe, when we were in Israel in 2012.

He was a very charismatic man but also generous with his time, his advice and his attention.

Shimon Peres lived the story of his people, a migrant story, leaving Poland to join the diaspora, pursuing a new life in Palestine.

His father scratching out a future for the family in unforgiving soil. His grandfather, who gifted young Shimon a love of reading, stayed in Poland and was burned alive in a synagogue when the Nazis captured his village.

The teenage Shimon wept for his lost loved ones, studied hard, tilled the fields by day and guarded the kibbutz with a rifle by night.

His story, the Jewish story, is a story of indignities endured and atrocities overcome.

A humanity stronger than the jackboot, a faith more powerful than hatred.

A people who, from the ashes of Shoah, built a new nation in their ancient homeland.

From the first days of modern Israel to its seventh decade, Shimon Peres served his people and spoke for his nation.

The child of the kibbutz drove the transformation of the desert.

He armed his nation against existential threat.

He helped lead Israel's embrace of science, technology and research.

He fought for a country secure in its independence, confident of its place in the region and safe in the world.

But, for all his success, the breadth of his achievements and the long shadow of his legacy, one noble goal eluded him—peace.

As he once said of Israel's wars:

“We won them all, but we did not win the greatest victory that we aspired to: release from the need to win victories.”

With the passing of Shimon Peres, the quest for a secure and lasting peace in the Middle East passes to all those whom he mentored and inspired.

Let us vow to do what we can to assist the cause of peace, to support the right of all who call this region home to live in peace with one another.

Let that be Shimon Peres's final legacy and his greatest.

Olev-hasholem.

May he rest in peace.

ENDS


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