Uprisings not hostile to Israel
An unstable West Asia is bad news for Israel, but Shimon Peres, the 88-year-old president of Israel, does not betray any nervousness about the uprisings in several countries around. Varghese K George reports.world Updated: Apr 17, 2011 23:37 IST
An unstable West Asia is bad news for Israel, but Shimon Peres, the 88-year-old president of Israel, does not betray any nervousness about the uprisings in several countries around. Peres believes the new generation driving the revolutions will not be hostile to Israel. Excerpts from the interaction with the president, as part of a media delegation hosted by the government of Israel.
How do you view the popular uprisings against regimes in the neighbourhood of Israel?
Countries such as Egypt and Iran have tremendous poverty. Younger generation in many countries is responding to problems in their own way, using technology .... They are reacting to the ugly side of the system....
A comparison with India and the Middle East is interesting. Gandhi told his people that he may not address their material needs, but could address their spiritual needs. Nehru planned the economic growth. India today is a miracle. The visions of Nehru and Gandhi changed India - without changing the spiritual foundation.... Egypt and India are both ancient civilizations. India addressed the development goals ... in a democratic set-up.
You think these revolutions might create an environment hostile to Israel?
They will not. They will try to stop this hate I believe. They are of a different generation. They have seen the follies of the past.
This year India and Israel complete two decades of normal diplomatic ties. You have been an architect of this relationship. Your reflections?
It is a relationship based on respect.... Youngsters in Israel have turned India into a special destination. India and Israel had the same colonial past also, one more reason why these countries understand each other well.
You personally had good association with India, no?
I admire Gandhi and consider him a prophet. During the British times, Gandhi's books were banned but I managed to read him...I admire the great poets Tagore and Nissim Ezekiel. I have liked the works of Vikram Seth. I like the simplicity of Indian leaders in general.
Israel is worried about Iran's nuclear programme. What is your fear?
Iran is ruled by a group of fanatics, a group of morally corrupt people.... It exports terror internationally. It hangs vulnerable people such as homosexuals. Loose nuclear weapons are ... real danger.... We need international cooperation on this issue.
Coming September, the UN may declare the state of Palestine. Your views?
States are not born through declarations. Palestinians are building their state and developing their economy ...But the issue here is whether Palestine will be able to assure Iran's non-interference .... Can they stop terror from Iran? Earlier we thought democracy is the answer. Now we see, those who have been democratically elected in the Palestinian territory are shooting at us. We would like the states of Israel and Palestine living in peace....