“Greetz from US Peres! Good luck mr. president!” writes PivotStorm, a US bank clerk with a penchant for using the F-word. Kigbfre, a woman whose comment is accompanied by a picture of her showing cleavage, posts: “Hello, I like your video.” YouTube users have found what political lobbyists across Israel are dying for — a direct line to President Shimon Peres.
Peres, 86, launched his own YouTube channel this week. YouTube’s co-founder Chad Hurley joined him at the Presidential Residence for the occasion.
Peres is by no means the first world leader to take to YouTube. Other important subscribers include members of the British monarchy, who have their own channel. But there is something rather unique about Peres’ initiative. For many public figures, turning to technology is a means to an end, just a way of getting heard. But with Peres, it’s part of the message.
Peres believes, in almost messianic terms, in the power of technology to change the human condition and seizes any opportunity to illustrate this. His YouTube profile makes this point, stating:
President Peres is renowned globally for his life long work toward peace as a statesman. Yet the President has also always been committed to harnessing technology and science to solve global challenges.
You can’t fake the excitement he showed at the President’s Conference in Jerusalem back in October, when he was in conversation with Raymond Kurzweil, one of the world’s most famous inventors and futurists. Wide-eyed Peres was fascinated by everything Kurzweil had to say, and spoke at length about the power of technology. Kurzweil’s immediate hope in the Middle East is the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but in the longer term, and taking a broader geographical view, he thinks that technological progress is the key to peace and prosperity.
In launching the channel Peres said he believes that the internet “has fundamentally changed the way we communicate with one another.” He continued: “As a man who believes in the power of technology, I am excited at the prospect of dialogue with the citizens of Israel and the world.” He is rumored to be personally keeping tabs on the comments and video responses he gets, which means he has probably read what PivotStorm and Kigbfre had to say.
You can see Peres’ Hanukkah address here.