Shalom, Dr Paisley, your legacy is lasting peace
LIKE most people in Northern Ireland, I absorbed the death of Dr Ian Paisley with shock.
The words from deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness were very moving and showed how far the people of Northern Ireland had moved on since the troubled days.
I had an opportunity to meet Lord Bannside at a talk I was giving at an address by the former Israeli Ambassador to the UK, His Excellency Mr Ron Proser, (now serving in the UN) in a Belfast hotel two years ago.
Dr Paisley sat down beside me and I explained that I'd been asked to give a resume of my 10 years working in Israel as a Northern Irish person (non-Jewish) for the Hilton Tel-Aviv during some difficult times.
Dr Paisley related his support for Israel and admiration for Jewish entrepreneurship, and pointed out how many times he had visited the country where the well-known Bible stories took place.
One man tried to crack a joke with him. "Dr Paisley," he proceeded, "I heard you'd become an alcoholic. Every time you enter Stormont you say, 'Where's McGuinness'?" The man, seeming pleased with himself, walked off and Dr Paisley said in a lower voice: "I've heard it before."
I also asked him for tips on public speaking as I was rather nervous. True to form, he instructed me almost in a gulder: "Just get up there and don't let them get a word in edgeways!" That could certainly be said for his own methods over the years which he claimed were instilled into him by his father on top of a mountain.
The familiar booming voice will always be remembered and be a part of Ulster history.
I think a more mellow Dr Paisley in his later years helped to formulate and clinch the success of the peace process that only he could have brought about.
His lasting legacy will be that peace which, in Hebrew, is the beautiful word 'shalom'.
Shalom Dr Paisley, it was really nice to have met you.