Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Peres at presidents conference: Iran belongs in the past

President Shimon Peres opened his "Facing Tomorrow" presidential conference Tuesday by telling participants and guests that Iran belongs in the past while Israel represents the future.

He also emphasized the importance of discovery and science, for which Israel claims a significant role in its sixty years of existence.

"Iran belongs in the past. This conference is the answer to Iran, it is the future that exists," Peres said in his address, which he delivered at Jerusalem's International Convention Center.

The president also asserted that scientific discovery was more important than the discovery of America, because the new world had borders while science is infinite.

"At this conference we will try to address the future, a new world of terms," Peres added.

The president began his address by stating that, "over the last 25 years, since the time when an active computer was housed in a very large room and until the arrival of the cellular telephone, the power of computing has increased a billion fold."

"Here we discovered an amazing field of capability," Peres declared in the opening speech.

Peres also called on the "industrialists, the scientists, the visionaries, and especially the young generation not to fear, not to heed the experts who know everything except what is actually going on. This is a small country, whose inhabitants do not have to be small."

The president called today's scientists "Colombuses" discovering millions of new worlds that mankind has not yet begun to explore. "A country mustn't be measured by kilometers or population, but by its capacity to create new lands that are not geographical," the president said.

He added that "Israel has chutzpah. What is our battle cry? Chutzpah. To question the norm, to rebel against conventions, not to be satisfied with what we're given. Creative, enriching chutzpah is extremely important."

"Some say I'm optimistic," the president went on to say. "I really am optimistic because I think that a country's worth is measured by the number of Colombuses it has and the number of opportunities it offers. Not everything is global, this is individual. One person can discover entire worlds. If there is something that we can't expand it is our geography, which may even shrink if another state is established."

Olmert postpones speech on Diaspora relations due to Peres

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has canceled his plan to give a detailed speech on Israel-Diaspora relations at Tuesday's opening session of the "Facing Tomorrow" conference.

Olmert is planning to give a more general address on this topic Tuesday, but the original speech, which was to have outlined detailed initiatives to improve Israel-Diaspora relations, has been postponed until next month.

The delay is apparently unrelated to the new police investigation against Olmert; rather, it stems from the fact that Olmert does not want to make a substantial statement on a day that he will most likely be overshadowed by Peres.

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent