Peres speaking 311 AP.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
The top brass of the IDF, the Mossad, the Israel Security Agency and others
connected with intelligence, safety and security gathered on Tuesday at Beit
Hanassi for the annual Eliahu Golomb Defense Prize awards ceremony.
Eliahu Golomb Defense Prize, awarded this year for the 53rd time, is Israel’s
highest accolade, more prestigious even than the Israel Prize, with the
essential difference being that its applicants and recipients are anonymous
heroes, who seldom if ever receive public recognition beyond the framework of
Their identities remain secret, and the descriptions of
the projects which are considered are deliberately vague.
engaged in these projects cannot discuss their work with their families, and
cannot expect acknowledgement for their achievements beyond an occasional pat on
the shoulder from a high ranking officer.
The prize was initiated by
founding prime minister David Ben Gurion, who wanted to memorialize Eliahu
Golomb, who led the Jewish defense effort during the period of the British
Mandate. Golomb was also the chief architect of the Haganah, which celebrates
its 90th anniversary this year.
President Shimon Peres surmised that he
was the only person at the ceremony who actually knew Eliahu Golomb, who died in
1945 and recalled meetings in Golomb’s small, wooden house.
the ceremony was yet another proof that his faith in Israel’s human resources,
both militarily and technologically, had not been misplaced.
Peres became the youngest director-general of the Defense Ministry, was
instrumental in formulating Israel’s defense policy and in 1974 was appointed
While Israel is recognized as having one of the most
capable armies in the world, what is not known about its defense abilities is no
less important than what is known, said Peres, speaking as one who is intimately
familiar with those hidden capabilities.
What the IDF has achieved is
fantastic, he said. “We have people on whom we can rely.”
that it used to be said that the best Jewish brain power was in the Diaspora,
where 25 percent of Nobel Prize winners were Jews, 20% of professors in American
universities were Jewish and 50% of international chess champions were
But Jews in their own country excel just as well, he declared
Even with the high cost of war and the loss of human life,
Israel has not fallen behind, and the IDF is a powerful force in its technology
as well as its strategy.
“I want the nation to know this, and I don’t
care what conclusions our enemies draw.”
Yet while Israel continues to
improve its defense systems, and thereby develop its strength, it must not
falter in its efforts for peace, Peres insisted.
He pronounced that this
year’s winners were at the top of the technology tree, and emphasized the
increasing importance of intellectual capabilities.
Today, geography and
topography don’t count in comparison to the speed of missiles, Peres
went on to quote Ben Gurion who said that it was not enough for the IDF
with the challenges of today, but that it had to be prepared for the
of tomorrow as well.
“Even if we have peace,” Peres told the laureates,
“your talents will not go to waste.”
Echoing what Peres had said, Defense
Minister Ehud Barak told the recipients, “Until we achieve a
peace, it is you who guarantee the security of Israel.”