President Shimon Peres to bring in top world personalities for
Israel’s 60th anniversary
By STEVEN GUTKIN Associated Press Writer
JERUSALEM, April 9 (AP) – Israeli President Shimon Peres is bringing in top personalities from around the world to celebrate the Jewish state’s 60th birthday. President George W. Bush, Barbra Streisand, Tony Blair, Mikhail Gorbachev and Rupert Murdoch are among those expected to attend a May conference focusing on Jewish and Israeli contributions to humanity.
“We are going to have probably 10 presidents from different countries, six former presidents, ministers, prime ministers, scientists, philosophers, artists,” Peres said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press.
The conference is expected to be one of the highlights of weeks of celebrations marking Israel’s 60th, including concerts, Holocaust remembrance events, a workshop promoting Arab-Israeli
coexistence and a 1,200-kilometer (750-mile) trans-Israel bicycle trail.
The May 13-15 conference will open with a tribute to Israel’s staunchest ally, the United States. It will be attended by Bush and feature Streisand singing the Hebrew prayer Avinu Malkeinu — Our Father Our King — which Peres described as “unbelievably beautiful.”
“After 60 years we want to stand up and say ‘thank you America,'” Peres said.
Peres said the subjects of the conference are “as varied as one can think of … from arts and science and philosophy and medicine and ecology.”
He said most of the of the conference’s 2,000 participants will be Jewish, but that it’s open to people of all faiths. The list of confirmed guests also includes Henry Kissinger, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, former Czech President Vaclev Havel, Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz, Google founder Sergey Brinn, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerman, Ratan Tata, chairman of India’s Tata group, U.S. billionaire Sheldon Adelson, and Abdurrahman Wahid, former president of Indonesia, a country with no diplomatic relations with Israel.
Israel declared statehood in 1948 in the wake of the Nazi genocide of six million Jews. The date is marked in Israel according to the Hebrew calendar and falls this year on May 8.