Just hours before the inauguration ceremony of US President-elect Barack Obama in Washington Tuesday, President Shimon Peres issued a special statement praising the incoming leader. Obama, he said, was the choice of all of mankind and will be more successful than his predecessors in resolving Middle Eastern conflicts.
"Today is a great day not only for the United States of America, but for the entire world," Peres began his
"Obama will be a good President to Israel, and I say Israel will be a good country for the President."
statement. "Obama was elected by the United States, but as a matter of fact, he was chosen by the whole of humankind.
"His is the correction of one of the greatest mistakes in the annals of history. What made history ugly, unmistakably, was basically slavery, and there were two sorts of slavery: men upon women, and white upon black. In the 20th century, there was a liberation of women. In the 21st century, there is a liberation of the other kind of ugly slavery, of one color upon another color because of the difference in color. This is a profound historic and ethical change. And it so happens that nobody did a favor for Obama. He won it because of his personality, because of his philosophy, and because of the hope he offers to all of us."
Peres ignored the significance of the President-elect's being the son of a Kenyan government official and not a descendant of African-American slaves.
"I pray here in Jerusalem that Barack Obama will be a great President of the United States," Peres continued, offering some advice to the young superpower premier. "To be a great American President today means to struggle for peace, to fight terror, to correct the environment, and to offer the young generation a better future. It is a great day for the United States because his most unusual hope and election, only 10 years ago, would have been unimaginable. From now on, all of us have the right to be different and equal, to be equally different."
Regarding Israel's relationship with the new US Administration, Peres said: "I am sure that Israel will be a good partner to President Obama. They say Obama will be a good President to Israel, and I say Israel will be a good country for the President, because his goals are our goals, his hopes are our hopes, his source is our source. All of us are coming from the same depth of Biblical convictions, with a permanent respect for the Ten Commandments. I want on behalf of the people of Israel, actually of all of the Jewish people, to tell the President, 'G-d bless you.' Your success will be our success. Your hope will become a reality. We should continue to dream to make the world move ahead further, better, and peacefully."
In response to a question about why Obama in particular may have more success in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict than some of his American predecessors, President Peres added:
"Obama has mobilized the greatest amount of goodwill and support in all walks of life. This mobilization of goodwill is becoming a strength in its own right. And I think that all of us expect to translate this occasion into a real opportunity to pacify, to meet through a dialogue, and bring a solution of peace to all parties concerned."