US President Barack Obama on Wednesday made a tremendous symbolic gesture toward Israel by ordering all American flags lowered to half-mast in honor of former Israeli President Shimon Peres, who passed away earlier in the day at the age of 93.
The official order issued by the White House was titled “Death of Shimon Peres” and read:
“The flag of the United States shall be flown at half-staff at the White House and on all public buildings and grounds, at all military posts and naval stations, and on all naval vessels of the Federal Government in the District of Columbia and throughout the United States and its Territories and possessions until sunset, on September 30, 2016.”
A personal statement sent out by Obama called Peres “the essence of Israel itself — the courage of Israel’s fight for independence, the optimism he shared with his wife Sonya as they helped make the desert bloom, and the perseverance that led him to serve his nation in virtually every position in government across the entire life of the State of Israel.”
Obama was scheduled to lead a large US delegation, including both Bill and Hillary Clinton, to attend Peres’ funeral in Jerusalem on Friday. They were to be joined by over 80 other world leaders.