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Peres: Danger Afoot in New Year, But Also Opportunities

In his New Year's message released Thursday, President Shimon Peres exuded optimism and hope for a better 5772, despite risks.
By David Lev
First Publish: 9/22/2011, 3:38 PM

President Shimon Peres
President Shimon Peres
Flash 90

In his New Year's message released Thursday, President Shimon Peres exuded optimism and hope for a better 5772, which could come as the result of positive changes in both the Arab world and Israeli society.

In his message, released in numerous languages ahead of Rosh Hashana, Peres praised the “Arab Spring” movement, despite the possible dangers. “Dramatic changes have swept across our region in the past year, changing the face of the Middle East forever. It has been generated by a young generation that bravely fought to free themselves of the shackles of the oppressive regimes that governed them, putting their lives at risk as they resolutely demanded their basic rights for freedom, democracy, dignity and jobs,” the message says.

Although it is too soon to tell whether the Arab Spring would turn out to be a boon – or a bust – for Israel's relations with the Arab world, Peres preferred to accentuate the positive. “Along with the risks, the coming year could offer tremendous opportunities and possibilities, and we must have the courage and foresight to seize this window of opportunity to secure a better future,” the message says.  “A trend towards democracy and freedom in the region will benefit Israel as well, and we shall closely watch its progress.

Israel, too, has experienced some political changes, which Peres also praised in the message. “The grassroots social justice movement that has sprouted up across the country has demonstrated that the people of Israel are engaged and socially aware, denoting a spirit of solidarity for each other and their society. They are prepared to fight for a better future for themselves and their children, and it has been an uplifting experience to witness the sight of hundreds of thousands of people peacefully raising their voice in unison for their rights.” What will come of those protests is also unclear, but, the message says, they are “an opportunity for change,,, and must not be wasted.

Overall, Peres said in the message, “the coming year will be a critical period for Israel, the entire region, and the world, with complex challenges ahead. Standing united while facing existential threats will give us the strength to prevail. But it will also be a period of opportunities, and I hope we shall take advantage of these opportunities to create a year of promise, growth, and security. As we look towards a better tomorrow, from Jerusalem I extend my warm and best wishes to the Jewish people around the world for a year of peace, joy, good health and prosperity.”