PRESIDENT REUVEN RIVLIN, former president Shimon Peres, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu don virtual reality goggles at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation in Jaffa.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Peres Center for Peace on the Jaffa seashore has become the showcase for Israeli innovation, and is now known as the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation. At the launch of the center on Thursday, both President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lauded former president Shimon Peres as the ongoing trailblazer of Israeli innovation.
Listing a string of Israeli initiatives in which Peres played a leading role, Rivlin credited Peres with enabling Israel’s nuclear capability.
For Rivlin and Netanyahu, who are at the opposite end of the political spectrum from Peres, this was their first visit to the Peres Center.
All three men emphasized that, while Israel is poor in natural resources, it is rich in human resources and this wealth of ingenuity is the foundation for Israel’s reputation as the start-up nation.
Netanyahu said that Israel’s scientific and technological edge, plus its record for dealing with terrorism, is bringing the world to Israel’s door.
The scourge of terrorism brought about by radical Islam has heightened the security concerns of many countries, which are eager to share in Israel’s breakthroughs in security technologies. This includes Arab countries, said Netanyahu, adding, “This may bring us the peace we seek.”
The other reason that other countries are eager to cooperate with Israel is because of Israel’s innovative advances in agriculture, water technologies and management, and medicine. In this context, Netanyahu referenced Africa.
“We’re returning to Africa; they’re ready for us,” he said.
While Tel Aviv has become Israel’s start-up hub, Netanyahu pointed to innovation that is also developing in the South, citing Beersheba as Israel’s cyber capital and hinting at plans for the North of the country to become Israel’s capital for life sciences.
Although Israel’s achievements are great, Netanyahu said Israel cannot afford to rest on her laurels, because change is moving at so rapid a pace, that Israel must do its utmost to remain ahead.
Israel is much richer in human resources “than anything we find in the ground,” said Rivlin, but he did make allowance for what has been found “under the ground in all its manifestations.”
Rivlin drew attention to the fact that, despite its amazing progress in science and technology, Israel has a deficit of hi-tech engineers, and suggested that the Arab and haredi communities whose members are not yet sufficiently integrated into science and technology industries receive the training to give them the proper qualifications so that they can fill the lacuna.
Peres, who was the architect of Israel’s defense and aviation industries, noted that Israeli innovation was born out of security needs but can now be used for dialogue that can lead to peace.
“Israel is not a miracle,” he said. “Israel is a vision. We dreamed big, but the realities are much greater than our dreams.”