Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres celebrated his 84th birthday this weekend while on a giant fundraising tour in the US for the reconstruction of the Galilee. Peres crisscrossed the US to raise $100 million in four days on a schedule more fit for a 20-year-old.
Every place Peres arrived he was greeted with the singing of “Happy Birthday.” In the office of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice he was greeted with singing and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld surprised Peres with a birthday cake. In every gathering of donors he participated, Peres was greeted with cheers and birthday songs. Peres blushed from all the commotion.
When the aides of Secretary Rice wished him life to 120, he responded, “Don’t be so stingy.” When he was asked what was the best birthday gift he got Peres replied, “a granddaughter.” Turns out, that before arriving at the airport for his flight to the US, Peres stopped by Sheba Hospital in Tel Hashomer to visit his son Yoni and his daughter-in-law Sigal who just had a baby. Peres has a total of eight grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
“What do you wish for yourself?” Peres was asked. “Many more years of working towards peace and the development of the Negev and the Galilee,” he replied. And what do you wish for the region? “Now, from the shallow point of missiles on Haifa I believe that we can proceed towards peace with countries that up until now we didn’t think of being in a coalition of peace with and reshape the Middle East,” he said.