JERUSALEM, Sept. 30, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- "My beloved friend, Shimon Peres has died," lamented Dr. Mike D. Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion (FOZ) Museum in Jerusalem, where Peres, Israel's 9th President served as International Chair from its inception in 2014 and through its first year of operation. "It was my great pleasure to have known this man – one of the founding fathers of the State of Israel, and one of the most beloved Israeli leaders worldwide. His achievements as an Israeli leader were historic, and his brilliance was matched only by his compassion."
"There are no words to fully express our love and admiration for this amazing man," Dr. Evans said on behalf of the FOZ Museum family, including its Directors in Israel and abroad, staff and supporters. "He believed in our vision to honor the Friends of Zion throughout history. It was an honor to know Shimon Peres and to share his appreciation of those who support Zionism, Israel, progress and peace."
"It was a rare privilege and a delight for me to travel with him, when he presented the Friends of Zion (FOZ) award to Prince Albert II of Monaco; to President George W. Bush, and his wife, Laura, at the Bush Presidential Library in Texas.
"I was also honored to participate in a special meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican. As he and I met with Pope Francis, the pontiff wrapped his hands around those of President Peres, demonstrating deep feelings of admiration for the former President, Prime Minister and Peace Promoter. The two men spoke of the morality of leadership in the world as the Pope was invited to be a Friend of Zion," Dr. Evans noted.
"We had the same amazing experience with President George W. Bush at his presidential library in Dallas, Texas. After the presentation of the Friend of Zion Award, former President Bush looked at the former President of Israel and said, 'I'll bet you are older than my father.' President Peres smiled and answered, 'I am three years older.' The two Presidents enjoyed a very jovial chat as they walked through the library."
Dr. Evans continued, "When I first met him and shared my dream to unite non-Jewish friends with the State of Israel—Friends of Zion—he said to me, 'I will help you.' President Peres said, 'It takes more energy to make enemies than to make friends and to sustain them.' He generously reached out in love and compassion to serve the FOZ Museum, standing with us and making friends for the Nation of Israel a part of his life's work. No one made more friends for his beloved homeland than did Shimon Peres. Most of us do not accomplish even a fraction of what he has accomplished during a lifetime," praised Evans.
"Thanks to his amazing kindness, the Friends of Zion Heritage Center, Museum, and Global Initiative have now exceeded the eight-million-member mark during the first year of operation. In the many visits and meals shared with President Peres, I asked him repeatedly to please stop talking for a moment to give my brain a rest. It was my privilege to observe the genius of one of the most beautiful and brilliant minds ever created as he represented the Nation of Israel. He had the capacity to take the most complicated problems and make them more easily understood.
"President Peres was a kind and gentle soul, filled with amazing love. He refused to discriminate against anyone. I was often asked why, with his busy schedule, he would be so kind to the Friends of Zion Museum. The only reason is that he liked everyone and believed in the cause of friendship to his last breath. It has been my distinct honor to call him a 'friend.' Even though we had ideological differences, that which united us—our love for Israel—was so much greater. Words are insufficient to express my love for my treasured friend and a giant of a man, Shimon Peres," concluded Dr. Evans.
Dr. Evans returned to Israel to attend the State funeral held today at Israel's National Cemetery on Mount Herzl.
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SOURCE Friends of Zion Museum