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Former Israeli President Peres Describes Profound Greek Ties

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Israel's former President Shimon Peres discussed the ideological and personal significance of Greece on his own life, during the Washington Oxi Day Foundation's black tie gala in the nation's capital.

While receiving the Metropolitan Chrysostomos Award via video, he stated how Greeks saved his father's life during the Holocaust and how Israel has tried to base its framework on Hellenic knowledge and philosophy.

The Israeli President described, "He knew if he was captured by the Nazis, they would finish him. He found a monastery of monks who decided to give him shelter. They risked their lives because if the Nazis would discover they were hiding a prisoner and a Jew at the monastery, they would kill them. The monks looked after him for two years risking the entire time their lives. My father was overwhelmed."

Peres added, "He learned their language and their music. He came back home happily and sang to our children, Greek songs. When he came back home, he was totally taken by the Greek people, the monks, and by the way they handled him, risking their own lives."

The President depicted how Israel was established under Greek ideology, "The second connection with Greece is ideological. You know, David Ben-Gurion, the founder of the state of Israel, decided to learn the Greek language. Why? He thought there was something missing in our history that was the meaning of the state. He thought that we had great prophets, we have great priests, and maybe we have some good kings, but we do not know real statesmen."

Peres commented in detail, "Ben-Gurion asked for advisors to come and teach him what he thought was one of the weaknesses of Judaism, the lack of understanding what is a state. Everyone thought that what we miss in our Bible is found in the Greek philosophy. He studied the Greek language and made it part of our ideology. He decided to learn the Greek philosophy in order to understand what it means to be the head of a state. I think he became the greatest statesman the Jews ever had. I was his pupil."

The former President of Israel concluded his address with, "So you can see that my connections to Greece come from two different angles (his father's life and country's ideology). They are still part of my life and part of my thoughts."

(Source: The Washington Oxi Day Foundation)