By: Stuart Winer; timesofisrael.com
Tsvia Walden says former president had perspective that fascinated world leaders, while his driver remembers ‘most polite person in the world’.
The daughter of deceased former president Shimon Peres paid tribute to her father following his death early Wednesday, calling him a passionate and demanding man who “intrigued” world leaders with his tireless energy and drive to create a better future for the world.
Tsvia Walden told Non-stop Radio 103FM that Peres was able to make an impression on leaders because of his unique approach to global affairs.
“All the time he spent all his energy thinking about the future of the world, the future of Israel, the future of other countries; he was immersed in it all the time… that was his ability,” she said. “And people would be thrilled and curious: ‘Who is that man? He thinks about things that bother us, but he knows how to present them differently.’
“That was the first thing that intrigued everyone, what he would say about things that everyone knows and is familiar with,” she said.
Peres, 93, died in hospital two weeks after suffering a major stroke. Dozens of world leaders, ministers and figures of state are expected to attend his funeral in Jerusalem scheduled for Friday.
Walden said her father was “a complicated father, splendid, full, demanding, demanding of himself, entertaining, a storyteller. He had deep familiarity with the history of the Jewish people and the annals of the State of Israel. That intimacy changed the way he looked at many things, that I will remember well.”
The family will sit shiva (the mourning period) at the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa, beginning Friday after his funeral.
Peres, who during his long career was also prime minister and foreign minister, was able to deal with political adversity through sheer force of character, Walden explained.
“He had a passion that enabled him to get through hard things and not give up and not surrender. During the years when he was in the political arena there were a lot of difficult times, but I don’t think that changed his commitment.
“Alongside that, he was a true and suave gentleman, a reserved person. And people like a true gentleman who respects human beings.”
Ayelet Frisch, who served as Peres’s spokesperson for 12 years, said he was like “a father figure” to his staff. And his activism inspired those around him, despite the personal pressures of accompanying their globe-trotting boss.
“You know that you aren’t just living your life beside Shimon Peres,” Frisch told Army Radio on Wednesday. “You are living a full, active life and mostly of contribution and dedication to this country, which he loved so much.”
Even when the staff were far from home, Frisch recalled, “to move between world stages with him, to see his sacrifice and his enormous love for the country, that is something that fills one’s heart with pride.”
She said Peres was “always optimistic,” and unfazed by critics who questioned his service to Israel, despite being unaware of his activities away from the limelight.
“He would always say the truth will come out, even if it is only when I am 90, the truth will come out.”
Alon Navi, Peres’s personal driver for some 17 years, told Army Radio of his last trip with Peres — the drive to the Sheba Medical Center, when the former president fell ill a fortnight ago. Peres’s apparent confusion on that journey led Navi to understand that his boss was suffering from a serious affliction.
“I called the the doctor… and they took him straight for a CT brain scan,” Navi said.
“He was the most polite person in the world. He never raised his voice. He always spoke tenderly with me,” he added.