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Shimon Peres Receives Medal of Freedom

At 88, after 65 years in politics, it seems that the veteran statesman Shimon Peres won’t be excited about yet another award bestowed upon him – but Wednesday night at the East room of the White House the Israeli President had a shy smile on his face, looking at the faces of the U.S. and Israeli officials that gathered around the tables decorated with tall white candles, to honor him – as if hardly believing Senya Persky from Wiszniewo shtetl, really got there.

There were Vice President Joe Biden sitting next to the Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who entered with her husband, the former President Bill Clinton, a bit late – sitting next to the Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren. There were Peres’ three children: Zvia, Chemi and Jonathan – who came with Dalia Rabin-Pelossof, daughter of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro came. So did former Middle East envoy George Mitchell and Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fisher. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright gently applauded. Later on, she sat at the same table with Peres, President Obama and his wife, and Haim Saban with his wife Cheryl.

There is a big age difference between the two Presidents – but the relationship between them seems easy – before President Peres’ remarks, President Obama fixed his microphone. Probably well aware of Peres’ ups and downs in Israeli politics, President Obama tagged him as “the ultimate comeback.”

For more, go to Haaretz.com

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