Newly released Peres interview: ‘Serve a greater cause than yourself’

Footage filmed eight years ago shows hopeful outlook from president.

April 17, 2018 18:12
2 minute read.

A Poet to the Stars, interview with Shimon Peres, courtesy Michael Potter/Ilan Ramon Scholarship Project

A Poet to the Stars, interview with Shimon Peres, courtesy Michael Potter/Ilan Ramon Scholarship Project


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Eight years ago, the film crew for a documentary about technology and innovation interviewed Shimon Peres.

Peres, who was president at the time, talked about the impact of technology and the responsibility of scientists.

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Not all of the footage was used in the film, The University.

And the rest of that interview was never aired – until now.

On Tuesday, in celebration of the state’s 70th birthday, the Ilan Ramon Scholarship Project, along with several of the original film’s producers, released the short video titled Poet to the Stars.

Michael Potter, cofounder of the scholarship project, served as an executive producer on The University, a 2016 film that shines a spotlight on Singularity University, an organization on a NASA research base in Silicon Valley which brings the brightest students from around the world to collaborate and brainstorm together.

The scholarship project provides funding to Israelis to attend programs at the International Space University.

More than a year after The University was released, Potter spearheaded the team that created a freestanding short film based on the Peres footage.

“The documentary team realized that his words were so impactful and inspiring,” Potter said, “that the team felt the footage had to be shared as a dedicated short film.”

In the video clip, Peres discusses the impact of technology on the world, and the dreams he has for the future.

“In my judgment,” Peres said, “to be a great scientist is not just a matter of knowledge, but not less a matter of character.”

The president, who died in September 2016 at age 93, was upbeat and steadfast about his vision for a more peaceful future.

“Armies cannot conquer science, police cannot stop scientists,” he said. “We don’t have real reasons for war, but we still have problems with our character... Technology is representing technical changes, but wisdom doesn’t age, values do not change. So if you will go just on technology, you will endanger lives.”

Technology, he said, has to come “in the right proportions” with values.

And, as always, the forward- looking leader had a message for young people.

“Don’t pay so much attention to the show, pay more attention to the vision,” he said. “The great ideas [are] not when you’re thinking, it’s when you are dreaming.

When you are thinking, you are a little bit limited, you are afraid. When you are dreaming, nobody controls your brain.

“I will recommend to every young girl and young boy,” the late president said, “is to convince them that their potential is by far greater than they think – by far better than their surroundings tell them.

“Serve a greater cause than yourself; it will enrich your life.”

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