World leaders arriving in Israel today to attend the funeral of the former Israeli prime minister and president Shimon Peres on Friday include US President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President François Hollande, Prince Charles of Britain, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, former US President Bill Clinton, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, among other VIPs.
“As Israel’s president, Shimon did so much to unite the nation, and the nation loved him for it,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Obama, who awarded the Israeli statesman the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, said of Peres’ passing at the age of 93 two weeks after a massive stroke, “A light has gone out, but the hope he gave us will burn forever.”
Celebrities such as Barbra Streisand, Madonna, Paula Abdul, Larry King, Sharon Stone, Morgan Fairchild, Joshua Malina, Chelsea Handler and Dan Rather posted messages on social media in tribute to Israel’s ninth president.
Streisand called Peres “a voice of reason who also happened to have the sensibility of a poet…thoughtful and soft-spoken, but his words echoed loudly around the world. His mind was expansive and his heart was compassionate. He was a brilliant statesman, gifted with the ability to listen to others who did not share his views and still remained determined to find a path forward.”
Actor Jason Alexander tweeted: “Shimon Peres was among the most beautiful souls I have ever had the honor and joy to meet. May [he] rest in bliss eternally.”
Peres, an avid champion of new technology, was active on social media to his last hours. He had posted a Facebook video shortly before the fatal stroke, urging Israelis to buy domestically made products, “not only because it’s more patriotic but because it’s simply better.”
Peres’s body is lying in state at the Knesset today. His funeral will take place on Friday morning at the national cemetery on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, starting with the laying of wreaths by heads of state.