An obituary for Shimon Peres by Hubert Burda
09/28/2016

The realistic optimist

An obituary for Shimon Peres by Hubert Burda
09/28/2016

The realistic optimist

My personal encounters with Shimon Peres taught me that if you want to be a realist, you must never stop aiming to make things better. His was a vision of a new Middle East, in which the Arabic states and Israel would evolve into a peaceful region of technical innovation and social equilibrium.

The peace process of the early 90s and the many subsequent disappointments never knocked him off course. Solving the water problem in the Middle East, effecting social change in the region through technological inventions, laying the foundations for a democratic society in the occupied territories and Gaza: This man, born in Vishnyeva, Belarus in 1923, believed in “progress” as preached in the Enlightenment – in a region whose modern conflicts are reminiscent of the religious wars in 17th-century Europe.

At our meetings in the 1990s in Jerusalem, at the World Economic Forum in Davos or in Munich, I loved to listen to his velvet voice paint an impressive picture of the opportunities for Middle Eastern peace and progress. This belief became a certainty immune to any doubt. Peres, an educated man in the European sense who appreciated literature, recognised the importance of “high tech” – computer sciences, even the digital revolution – at an early stage. In 1999, I therefore got involved in the project to set up a Center for Innovative Communication at Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, a cause particularly dear to Peres’ heart.

It was always clear to me that while the dramatic nature of German-Jewish history must not be downplayed, the important thing is to dedicate oneself to seminal projects to stabilise Israel and drive it forward. In 2000, at the “Cool People in the Hot Desert” conference, I met my friend Yossi Vardi, a digital entrepreneur favoured by Shimon Peres. Contacts were made that led to the foundation of DLD in 2005, perhaps the most internationally renowned forum for debates on the digital revolution. Without Peres, there would be no Yossi Vardi and no DLD, which Steffi Czerny and I have spent more than ten years promoting. Aside from his many merits, it is probably his courage to innovate that has done the most for the state of Israel.

I bow to his achievements, and mourn a most extraordinary politician.

By Dr Hubert Burda

PDF

More images & downloads

DLD Tel Aviv 2014: Yossi Beinart (Stock Exchange), David Brodet (Bank Leumi), Shimon Peres (former President of Israel), Paul-Bernhard Kallen, Ron Huldai (mayor of Tel Aviv), Amnon Neubach (Stock Exchange), Yossi Vardi and Guy Preminger (PWC

DLD Tel Aviv 2015: Shimon Peres, the former President of Israel, with Steffi Czerny and Beate Merk

Shimon Peres with Yossi Vardi at DLD Tel Aviv 2014

Shimon Peres with Paul-Bernhard Kallen at DLD Tel Aviv 2014

Yossi Vardi, Shimon Peres and Hubert Burda on a panel at the “Cool People in the Hot Desert” conference (1999)

Related articles

DLD

Bye work day, mountain air - hurray!

DLD

Bye work day, mountain air - hurray!

Steffi Czerny, founder of one of Europe’s most successful digital conferences, invited long-standing DLD friends, speakers and supporters to her home by Lake Tegernsee for the first DLD Hike.
 

DLD Campus 2019

Igniting the entrepreneurial flame

DLD Campus 2019

Igniting the entrepreneurial flame

What sets humans apart from robots? How will we feed ourselves, travel and work in the future? These questions were, among others, the focus of the third DLD Campus in Bayreuth.

Burda DLD Nightcap

Crowning DLD Finish in Davos

Burda DLD Nightcap

Crowning DLD Finish in Davos

Around 400 guests followed the invitation of DLD founder Steffi Czerny, Chairman Yossi Vardi and Burda CEO Paul-Bernhard Kallen to the Burda DLD Nightcap in Davos as part of the World Economic Forum.