Former President of Israel Shimon Peres attends "Intelligence on the World, Europe, and Italy", the 42nd edition of the Ambrosetti International Forum on Sept. 2, in Cernobbio near Como, Italy.
Shimon Perski was born on Aug. 2, 1923, in Vishneva, then part of Poland. He moved to pre-state Palestine in 1934 with his immediate family. His grandfather and other relatives stayed behind and perished in the Holocaust. Rising quickly through Labor Party ranks, he became a top aide to Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister and a man Peres once called "the greatest Jew of our time."
At 29, he was the youngest person to serve as director of Israel's Defense Ministry, and is credited with arming Israel's military almost from scratch. Yet throughout his political career, he suffered from the fact that he never wore an army uniform or fought in a war.
Of his 10 books, several amplified his vision of a "new Middle East" where there was peaceful economic and cultural cooperation among all the nations of the region.
Despite continued waves of violence that pushed the Israeli political map to the right, the concept of a Palestinian state next to Israel became mainstream Israeli policy many years after Peres advocated it.