President Shim'on Peres presented the President's Medal, Monday morning, to Musical Director for Life Zubin Mehta of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra for his unique contribution to the country's culture. In remarks following the bestowing of the medal, Peres played on the Hebrew word for "conducting", which also means "to emerge victorious" when he said, "You came to Israel when there was nothing with which to conduct an orchestra and you won over the hearts of all of us." Peres said of the Mumbai-born musician, "You came out of the personal mission that represents your spirit and that of the Indian culture from which you came," concluding that Mehta and the orchestra had an important part in passing music's message of peace and hope to the world.
Mehta responded by saying the hug he received from the president was the biggest medal he could receive, adding that the hug has been going on for 40 years and that India has no better friend than Shim'on Peres. He said the Jewish and Arab makeup of the orchestra "reflects the dreams of this state: If you can sing together, you can live together. I know and believe that this will happen one day."