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The Late Shimon Peres

Hon. Linda Frum: Honourable senators, last week, along with all Canadians of goodwill, I was saddened to learn of the passing of former Israeli President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres. I'm enormously humbled and honoured to have been included in a delegation to Israel to witness his funeral.

His final resting place on Mount Herzl, near the burial places of Israel's founders, Theodore Herzl, Yitzchak Rabin and Golda Meir, is a testament to the role his life played in the formation of the State of Israel.

Over 70 heads of state and leaders from almost every major world country, including representatives from the Palestinian National Authority, came to pay their respects to this great man of peace. To see this with my own eyes gave me great hope for Israel and indeed for the entire world.

It is hard to imagine many other world leaders who would generate as much respect and genuine affection as this giant of a man. As President Obama said during his remarks on Friday, "the story of Shimon Peres is the story of Israel."

His long and distinguished career began with fighting for the very existence of the State of Israel alongside David Ben-Gurion. Shimon Peres led a life of public service that can be defined as someone who did what was necessary, not for the glory or the accolades but because it needed to be done. This was most clearly demonstrated when on two occasions he was asked to serve as interim prime minister during times of uncertainty.

Among his many appointments in cabinet, he notably served as Minister of Defence during Operation Thunderbolt, the daring rescue of 102 Israeli hostages from Entebbe, Uganda.

His patriotism and love for his country was an example of a true public servant — a man who put his country ahead of his own interests.

To quote Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a good friend of the late President Peres, "His was a life of sacrifice not only for his country and its citizens, but the very idea of Israel — the dream of a safe and prosperous Jewish state able to live in confident peace with its neighbours."

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet Shimon Peres on a number of occasions. His calm demeanour and humble attitude were always impressive. For someone who held the most prestigious leadership positions in the State of Israel, he remained a remarkably modest, grounded and unpretentious statesman.

I wish his family comfort in their time of mourning. May his memory be a blessing.

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