"You represent the future, I represent the past," President Shimon Peres told Marco Rubio, the Republican Senator for Florida when the two met on Wednesday evening.
Peres noted that as a man of (almost) 90, he represented history whereas Rubio, as a young man represents the future.
Peres was unaware of Rubio's exact age, till the Senator told him: "I'm 41, but I feel 42." Tapped as being the possible Republican nominee in the next Presidential elections, Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants to the US is visiting Israel for the second time. The first time a little over two years ago, was a private visit with his wife, following his election to the Senate.
"This is the city which is the spiritual capital of the world," he told Peres. On his previous visit, he added, he had not only fallen in love with Jerusalem, but with the whole country. "At a time when few things unite Democrats and Republicans in Washington, I'm pleased that Israel is one of them," said Rubio referring to remarks made earlier by Peres about the bi-partisan support that Israel has received from the US since the beginning of statehood.
Although there might be disagreements between the two parties as to what form that support should take, above all else both were committed to Israel's security, said Rubio.
"The people of Israel have a right to be safe." He pledged that Americans would continue to do everything possible to advance that aim. "Israel represents everything the US stands for," he said, citing a vibrant democracy, a vibrant economy, free markets and free enterprise, which he declared are "an example to the world".
Any visit to Israel he commented, brings anyone back to their spiritual roots. He intends to visit often he said, and in two years time will again bring his wife and their four children.
Rubico last week delivered the Republican's official response to President Barack Obama's state of the union address in which Rubio said that America was "unique" and "exceptional". Peres who read Rubio's address, agreed with him that America is indeed unique and exceptional because it gives without taking, and has found it more profitable to be generous than to create enemies. "Enemies can be very costly," said Peres, who also commended America for not keeping anything for itself when fighting in other countries, but rather giving everything back.
The United States is a future oriented country where technology and science have overcome politics, said Peres.
In reviewing the overall situation in the region, Peres spoke of the need to change the Middle East, and proposed that global companies that had their beginnings in the US play a role in creating jobs that will relieve unemployment and poverty and will ultimately reduce tensions. Projects on a company to company basis without the bureaucracy of government to government will be effective not only in the creation of good products but also in the promotion of goodwill, said Peres, who attributed the root of the problems in the Middle East to the super powers. "The Middle East is a victim of the mistakes of the super powers," he said.
Peres also spoke of the eagerness with which Israel is awaiting Obama's visit, to which Rubio said that there was an across the board hope that the visit would prove productive.
As he does when meeting any American dignitary, Peres emphasized the need to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinians, something that he said was imperative for both sides in the conflict.
In the street outside, in a much larger demonstration than usual, Pollard activists were assembled with placards and banners on both sides of the street, chanting loudly in both Hebrew and English for the release of Jonathan Pollard.
Unlike demonstrations last week, where they congregated directly across the road from the entrance to the President's Residence, this time they were a fair distance away, though not by choice.