America is a young country, but we’re not as young as we used to be.
One day, July 4, 1826, we lost our two most momentous founders, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, who both passed within hours.
The state of Israel really is a young nation, and it has just lost a founder of its own: Shimon Peres.
The former president and prime minister, protege of Israel’s first leader, David ben-Gurion, winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for the Oslo Accords, but also the champion of Israel’s nuclear weapons program, was a dove who pursued strength for the purpose of being able to negotiate effectively.
Peres embodied the prototypical yearning of Israelis: they want peace, but mistrust deals, yet know that their security can’t last in a state of constant war.
Not long before his death at 93, he told Time:
“What people don’t understand, you don’t begin peace negotiations with a happy end.
“Keep the happy end for the end. You have to begin from an obscure, complicated situation. And it takes time. You always have to find some new ways. Old ways are too known. They have too many objections.”
Ever the student of life, politics and history, he had something to say about leadership for his very young country that we would do well to heed in our still-young nation:
“You must be ahead of time, because if you want to represent the status quo, what do you need leaders for? Most people anyway prefer to remember rather than to think. And even you don’t have to remember: Ask the Internet; it remembers everything. You have to imagine and look ahead.”
“If you want to represent the status quo, what do you need leaders for?”
Was he thinking of Israel, or of our own 2016 choices?