Shimon Peres Is Born in Belorussia

August 2, 1923

The only politician in Israeli history to hold the positions of both President and Prime Minister, Peres is born in Belorussia to Yitzchak and Sara Perski.  Immigrating to Mandate Palestine in 1934, Peres settles with his family in Tel Aviv, and attends Balfour Elementary school.  At the age of fourteen, he studies in the agricultural school Ben Shemen. A founder of Kibbutz Alumot in the Galilee, Peres is elected Secretary of the Ha’Noar Ha’oved Ve’ha’lomed Labor Zionist youth movement in 1941, where he begins his career as an organizer and integral member of the Labor political movement in Israel.

In 1947, Peres Joins the Haganah, where he is put in charge of managing manpower and arms purchases.  He then goes on to serve as Head of Naval Services during and immediately after the 1948 War of Independence once the Israel Defense Forces are established. In 1952, after heading the Defense Ministry’s delegation to the United States, he joins the Ministry of Defense, where after one year, he is appointed as its Director-General, a position he holds until 1959.  During this period, he is credited with building a relationship with France surrounding the 1956 Sinai Campaign, and helping establish Israel’s nuclear program, most of which is the result of French aid and technology.

In 1959, Peres is elected to the Knesset for the first time.  He has served in the Knesset longer than anyone in Israel’s history, at various times serving as Minister of immigrant Absorption, Minister of Transportation, Deputy Defense Minister, Minster of Defense, Minister of Finance and Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 1977, following the resignation of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, he serves as Acting Prime Minister for three months. He then serves as Prime Minster from 1984-1986, and again from November of 1995 until June of 1996. In June of 2007, he is elected as Israel’s 9th President.  In 1994, together with Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Peres was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He ends his presidency in July 2014.

In the photo, Prime Minister Shimon Peres shows President Bill Clinton how to write his name in Hebrew during the signing of an anti-terrorism agreement in April 1996.