Peres: Building atomic reactor was one of my main achievements

Peres is credited with helping to establish the Dimona nuclear reactor in the 1950s before he became a minister.

dimona reactor 298.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
dimona reactor 298.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
"It's not the job, it's what you do," President Shimon Peres told a group of young intelligence officers that included his grandson on the Beit Hanassi lawn Monday. Peres was responding to a question as to what he considered to be the most important role in his career. "I suppose a minister is more important than a deputy minister," he said, "but building an atomic reactor was one of the most important things I did in my life." Peres is credited with helping to establish the Dimona nuclear reactor in the 1950s before he became a minister. People in public life are always being scrutinized, he said, more so today than at any other time. "The state of Israel has never been more under the microscope than it is today. Everyone is suspected of corruption. It doesn't make any difference whether you're a president, a prime minister or some other public figure." Although Peres has met with many groups of soldiers, this was a little different, because it included his grandson, the son of Pitango Venture Capital co-founder Chemi Peres and his wife Gila. Peres extolled the virtues of learning from others. "I learn more from children than I can teach them," he said. "Everyone has to develop his own potential and all of you have more potential than you realize," he told the young officers. Peres noted that it had been young people who had brought the high-tech revolution - one of his favorite subjects - to Israel. Meanwhile, Jewish, Arab, Druse, and Circassian children were waiting for Peres elsewhere in the grounds. The youngsters had come to Beit Hanassi so Peres could launch the annual Galilee Olive Branch festival, during which ancient and modern olive presses are open to the public. Visitors are also encouraged to join in the harvest and to attend workshops in which they can learn about the preparation of olive oil products. The festival is seen as a symbol of peace and coexistence; and in the next year or two will expand to the Negev. The primary and high school children harvested olives from the trees at Beit Hanassi, including one fig and olive hybrid, which Peres termed "a true symbol of peace and coexistence." Peres joined them, raking the fruit from the tree just as he had done in his years on kibbutz. Only, in those days, he wasn't wearing a suit.