Peres the Perennial Optimist

Shimon Peres talked science and regional politics in his two day visit to Switzerland

Aryeh Ben Hayim , | updated: 2:38 PM

Peres at CERN
Peres at CERN

Israeli President Shimon Peres, perhaps recalling the days in which he spurred activity on Israel's nuclear reactor, visited Monday at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, near Geneva on the French-Swiss border. This was one of the features of Peres' two-day state visit to Switzerland, an attempt to boost bilateral scientific cooperation between Bern and Israel.

Peres managed a tie-in with the "peace process," claiming that technological progress would lead to greater pluralism in the Arab world, and giving South Korea as an example (but omitting nuclear North Korea and nuclear bound Iran).

Monday evening, Peres launched a joint Israeli-Swiss research fund partnering the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) to promote brain research.

Peres had a working lunch with the President of federal Switzerland, Micheline Calmy-Rey, who, when foreign minister, masterminded the Geneva Initiative that brought together Israeli super doves with Palestinian "moderates." She also appeared in Muslim head covering when visiting Teheran to meet with Ahmedinejad. The two discussed the current unrest in Arab countries.

"We hope the better our neighbors will have it, we shall have better neighbors," Peres told reporters after the meeting with Calmy-Rey.

In an attempt to sour the atmosphere, a pro-Palestinian Swiss NGO, Rights for All, filed a complaint Monday with the Attorney General against Peres, assailing Israeli policy in Judea and Samaria as “contrary to Switzerland’s humanitarian principles” and accusing Israel of “crimes against humanity.” Peres was singled out for "war crimes" for bombing the Qana camp in Lebanon during the exchanges of fire between Israel and Hezbollah in 1996. This occurred shortly before the elections that unseated Peres as Prime Minister.

Pierre Weiss, head of the Geneva branch of the Swiss-Israel Association, recommended that the Rights for All organization file a complaint against Hamas for crimes against humanity and against its own people.