President Shimon Peres received the Golden Victoria award from a visiting delegation of the German Magazine Publishers Association on Wednesday.

Dr. Rudolf Thiemann, a vice president of the association, which includes 400 publishers, more than 6,000 magazine titles and 10,000 websites, led the four-person delegation. The winged gold statue, the association’s highest award, is given to outstanding figures whose actions have brought positive change to the world.

Thiemann declared Peres to be one of the most widely recognized and esteemed political figures in the world, serving the causes of peace in the Middle East and reconciliation with Germany. Peres was not only a great political figure, but also a leading figure in business, as demonstrated in the foreword that he wrote for the internationally best-selling book Startup Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle, Thiemann said.

The association works closely with Israel in various spheres, including organizing tours to Israel, he said, adding that the association was inspired by the strength of Israel, the spirit of its people and its creativity, “which does not come from size but from the magnitude of threats.”

The Golden Victoria award is traditionally presented at the association’s annual convention in the German capital, but since Peres was unable to be there in October, Berlin came to Jerusalem, and the award was presented to him at his official residence.

“I promise your spirit will be in Berlin in October,” Thiemann told the president.

In accepting the life achievement award, Peres said that he regarded it more as a prize for the people of Israel. The People of the Book have more pages than kilometers, said Peres.

Books have always been part of the Jewish existence, even when the Jewish people lost their land and through the most difficult of times.

The delegation was interested in getting Peres’s views on social media, freedom of the press and relations with Germany.

Thiemann expressed admiration for the degree of freedom of the press in Israel and observed that “sometimes the press is very rough,” even with Peres.

Peres acknowledged that social media is a significant and often-positive force for change, forecasting that as “a fresh wind to history,” it will play a major role in bringing about change in the region as everincreasing numbers of young people go online. He said, however, that his preference was for books, which had contributed significantly to the Israeli-German dialogue, as German books were translated into Hebrew and Hebrew books were translated into German.

He expressed appreciation for all the support that Germany has given to Israel and which it continues to give to the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. There is particularly close cooperation between Germany and Israel in science and technology, he said.

When one of the members of the delegation wanted to know what Germany could learn from Israel’s “innovation culture,” Peres replied: “the greatness of being poor materially and trying to enrich ourselves humanly.” He explained that because Israel was lacking in natural resources, surrounded by enemies, and outnumbered and outgunned, it had no alternative but to look inwards, and it discovered a treasure hidden in the human being.

“Israel has not enriched the people; the people have enriched the land,” Peres said.

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