September 25, 2018

Simon Wiesenthal statement on the passing of Shimon Peres

“The passing of Shimon Peres, the 9th President of the State of Israel, two-time Prime Minister and Nobel Peace Prize winner, marks the end of an era. He was the last of the pioneers who helped found the State of Israel and no Israeli leader was more respected internationally than Shimon Peres. Every world leader would take his call immediately, said Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

 This past February, Rabbi Hier, and Richard Trank, Executive Producer and principal Writer/Director of Moriah Films, the Wiesenthal Center’s Academy Award™ winning documentary film division, interviewed Shimon Peres for an upcoming documentary on the life of David Ben-Gurion. The Center, its Museum of Tolerance Jerusalem, and Moriah have had a three decades-long association with President Peres, having interviewed him for several other film projects.

During the course of this particular interview, Rabbi Hier and Trank were asked by the President if they would be interested in producing the definitive documentary film about his life. Without hesitation, they answered, “It would be an honor,” and immediately went into production. Rabbi Hier and Trank made the decision to postpone the Ben-Gurion documentary until 2018 in the hope that the film about the then 92-year-old President could be completed by early next year. Peres was excited about the possibility of attending multiple premieres in Israel and the United States.

“To have had the opportunity to make the definitive documentary film about the one of the last pioneers that helped found the State of Israel, Shimon Peres. has not only been an incredibly rewarding professional experience, it has also had a profound personal impact on us as well. We intend on bringing his legacy not only to Israelis but to audiences around the world who we believe will be inspired by his message of optimism and peace and his positive vision for the future of Israel and Zionism,” said Rabbi Hier and Richard Trank.

This was apparent when in 2007, Rabbi Hier arranged a meeting for Jeffery Katzenberg and Jerry Seinfeld with the President in Jerusalem during Chanukah.  In the meeting, President Peres reflected the following, “Gentlemen, not all miracles are in the Bible.  You are visiting Israel. The whole country is a miracle!  We have no oil, no water, but look at what Israel has accomplished.  If this would have happened in the time of the Bible, it would have been included as one of the great miracles.”

In a letter to Rabbi Hier this past June, President Peres wrote the following: “The work the Simon Wiesenthal Center carries out is truly commendable.  You have made it your moral duty to never forget.  You carry the torch for holocaust remembrance and make it a humanitarian responsibility to confront anti-Semitism and spread tolerance, dignity and the importance of human rights.  May your initiatives and efforts continue to go from strength to strength. I hope to see you soon again.”

The Shimon Peres Documentary will be completed and is set to premiere in Los Angeles, New York, Washington DC, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in May of 2017.