Arizona’s delegation to Israel, led by Gov. Ducey, just had the opportunity to visit with former Israeli Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres. The 92-year old Mr. Peres, always impeccably dressed and razor sharp, is arguably the world’s most notable living statesman.
Mr. Peres has been involved in Israel’s history since its founding in 1948, when he worked in a senior capacity for the country’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. His accomplishments are many: He was the architect of much of Israel’s defense strategy; he was the Prime Minister of Israel in the 1980s when the government implemented sweeping reforms that helped cure an economy with a debt burden that was toxic to the country; and of course, what he may be most famous for, he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his efforts related to the Oslo Accords.
Mr. Peres now spends his time at the Peres Center For Peace, where our meeting with him took place. Perhaps the most fascinating part of our visit was the future-oriented nature of the conversation. The essence of Mr. Peres’ current perspective can be found in the Foreword for Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle (more on this in a later writing). Quoting Prime Minister Ben-Gurion, Peres writes: “’All the experts . . . are experts on what was. There is no expert on what will be.’” Mr. Peres takes that one step further, writing, “To become an ‘expert’ on the future, vision must replace experience.”
Indeed in our meeting Mr. Peres stressed the importance of thinking big and how developments in science are reshaping the world at an incredible pace. This was a central theme as the Governor and Mr. Peres drilled down on areas in which there can be collaboration, including what we can do together on water (stay tuned for a blog on the Governor’s address to a major international water conference in Tel Aviv, WATEC, tomorrow), the importance of an excellent educational system, and an environment friendly to entrepreneurship.
The Governor also discussed ways Israel and Arizona can collaborate on issues like water and technology with Israel and America’s neighbors, Mexico and Canada. Later this month, Mr. Peres is attending the Mexico Business Summit in Guadalajara, in which he will discuss the economic outlook for Mexico in 2016. With the AMC under the leadership of David Farca and with “Mr. Canada” Glenn Williamson as a force of nature in our state, the possibilities are great.
A final thought: As the father of three daughters I appreciated one of Mr. Peres’s final comments. “Countries that discriminate against women do not have a future,” he said. Israel is the beacon in the Middle East in gender equality, and it got to that point because of forward-thinking leaders like Mr. Peres.