Shimon Peres to Speak at Yale

Israeli statesman Shimon Peres, winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize, will speak on “What Risks Must a Nation Take for Peace?” on Tuesday, February 11, at 4 p.m. in Yale University’s Battell Chapel, corner of College and Elm streets. His visit to campus is jointly sponsored by the Chubb Fellowship of Timothy Dwight College and the David and Goldie Blanksteen Lectureship in Jewish Ethics of Yale Hillel. The talk is free and open to the public.

Born in Poland, now Belarus, in 1923, Peres came to Palestine with his family in 1934. In 1947 he joined the Haganah, a Zionist military organization under the direction of David Ben-Gurion, who became his political mentor. When Israel achieved independence in 1948, Ben-Gurion became the state’s first prime minister and appointed Peres, then only 25 years old, head of Israel’s navy. In the 1950s, Peres was elected to the Knesset and named director general of the Ministry of Defense. He has been a prominent figure in Israeli politics ever since.

In 1968 he helped found the Labor Party. In the 1970s, as Israel’s minister of defense serving under Yitzhak Rabin, he engineered the raid against Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists who were holding 100 hostages captive at the Entebbe airport in Uganda. In the 80s, he shared leadership of the country in a Labor-Likud coalition with Yitzhak Shamir. As prime minister, Peres brought the Israeli economy back from near collapse and withdrew Israeli forces from their controversial incursion into Lebanon.

In 1992 he lost his party’s leadership to Rabin, who became prime minister and appointed Peres to the cabinet as foreign minister. Peres played a key role in the secret negotiation,liver a Blanksteen lecture in peace agreement in September 1993 between Israel and the PLO. For their efforts, Peres, Rabin, and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in October 1994.

Following the assassination of Rabin in November 1995, Peres became prime minister. In a close election last May, he was unseated by Benjamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud Party.

In his recently released autobiography, “Battling for Peace,” Peres describes his evolution from youth movement leader to prime minister. He tells about bitter quarrels with Golda Meir and Rabin, and of his admiration for Ben-Gurion, Moshe Dayan, and Francois Mitterand.

The Chubb Fellowship Program was established in 1936 through the generosity of Hendon Chubb, Yale 1895. Based at Timothy Dwight College, the Chubb Program encourages and assists students interested in government and public service. Since 1949, four or five distinguished visitors have been appointed Visiting Chubb Fellows each year, spending several days at Yale with students and delivering a public address. Previous Visiting Chubb Fellows have included elected and appointed officials at the highest levels –including presidents of the United States and other nations – award-winning writers and artists, and other world leaders.

The Lectureship in Jewish Ethics was established by David and Goldie Blanksteen to provide members of the Yale community the opportunity to engage in discussion of the critical ethical questions of the moment with leading contemporary thinkers and activists. Deeply committed to Judaism and to education, the Blanksteens were founding donors of the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale. Their daughter, Jane, graduated from Yale in 1977. The David and Goldie Blanksteen Lectureship in Jewish Ethics was inaugurated in April 1995, with a talk by David Hartman, social activist, rabbi, and philosopher. Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg, author of “Genesis: The Beginning of Desire,” will deliver a Blanksteen lecture in March.

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