Jewish Journal

L.A. reactions to Peres’ visit

by Jonah Lowenfeld

March 14, 2012 | 6:08 pm

Israeli President Shimon Peres and actress Eva Longoria at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 11. Photo by Michael Kovac/WireImage

Israeli President Shimon Peres won friends and fans on his recent visit to Los Angeles, as this week’s cover story makes pretty clear. Most Angelenos couldn’t stop praising the man.

Below, a collection of a few of the more memorable reactions to and observations about Peres and his recent trip to Los Angeles:

Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, on Peres fulfilling his new role:

“As a politician, you have failures and triumphs. Personally, when he was a political leader, I didn’t agree with many of his political positions. But today, as president of Israel, he has fulfilled that role in an amazing manner.”

Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Valley Beth Shalom, on Peres’s life:

“Peres is a wise man. He’s lived a great deal of our history, and he’s reflected deeply on what history has taught us. His refusal to succumb to pessimism and cynicism is remarkable. That’s the prophet in him – the ability to continue to hope, to envision peace, to demand better of us.”

Israeli Ambassador to the United States and historian Michael Oren, on Peres’s counterpart in American History:

“He’s the [James] Monroe. He is the youngest of the founding fathers, and Monroe was the last of the founding fathers to still be in a position as [the Fifth] American President.”

UCLA professor of Jewish History David N. Myers on Peres’s more recent counterparts in American political history:

“His liberal disposition in politics, his endurance, his know-how—savoir-faire—in matters parliamentary and political, all remind me of Teddy Kennedy.
Myers also likened Peres to the long-serving Cold War-era American diplomat and adviser George Kennan, whom he described as “the ultimate insider, who performed a wide variety of functions in government, who was, in that respect an arch realist – which he [Peres] is. I don’t think he could’ve survived for that long if he wasn’t.”

Sagi Balasha, CEO of the Israeli Leadership Council, on why Israelis are relieved to have Peres as president:

“After what happened with the last president of Israel, Moshe Katzav [who is serving a seven-year sentence after being convicted of rape and sexual harassment], the citizens of Israel feel that having Shimon Peres as the President of Israel gives Israel and the citizens a lot of respect. Because he is not just one of the best-known Israeli figures; he is one of the best-known leaders of the world. And to have one of the best-known and most respected leaders of the world as head of the State of Israel is something that every Israeli feels honored to have. People are very proud to have Shimon Peres as president, it doesn’t matter if they are left wing or right wing.”

Gary Dalin, executive director of the Israel Christian Nexus, on why the Beverly Hilton wasn’t the right place for Peres to speak on March 8:

“We could’ve had it at West Angeles Church, which seats 5,000 people instead of 1,200 and it would’ve been full. ... From my perspective, [the organizers] missed a much greater event. We could’ve had 15,000 people if they had chosen a venue that would’ve allowed Christians to participate.”

Shmuel Rosner, senior political editor at the Jewish Journal, and keeper of Rosner’s Domain at Jewishjournal.com, on Peres’s present-day popularity in Israel:

“[Peres] was very smart about gaining the confidence and support of Israelis, [and] didn’t go into areas where there’s a lot of political debate.”

StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein, on Peres’s optimism:

“Henry Kissinger has said about [Peres] that he is sometimes too optimistic. I think that’s a very interesting point. But then, when he does this video where he says, “Be my friend, for peace,” it’s a call for a partner, and I think he understands, and has always understood, that there are people who are bad, who want to get rid of the Jewish state, and through it all he has been able to maintain his optimism. It’s extraordinary. He’s different that way.”

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, on why the 88-year-old Peres reminds him of UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, who died in 2010 at 99 years old:

“Unlike a lot of politicians who don’t live that long, [Peres] has lived that long, and the longer somebody of his repute lives, the larger the legend grows. If John Wooden had died when he was 68 years old, I don’t think he would have been the legend he is today. He actually penetrated the consciousness of people for 35 more years after he retired from coaching. ... I’m 63 years old. At the age of 63, he [Peres] still had at least a quarter-century of public service ahead of him.”

Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Gruel, on what Peres’s visit means for L.A.:

“For Los Angeles, it’s a great opportunity to have a world leader here, to engage us to challenge us to help lead us as we go forward.”

Los Angeles City Councilman Eric Garcetti, via twitter (@ericgarcetti), March 8:

Shimon Peres is more coherent at 89 than most are at 60. He speaks in Twitter-worthy phrases and has a new hip-hop video. #whoknew #daiyanu

Actress Eva Longoria, via twitter (@EvaLongoria), March 10:

I can’t wait to meet President Peres from Israel tomorrow. Looking forward to learning more about the situation in Israel. #peace

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