Published on Wolrd Jewish Congress website
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder on 28 October honored Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany Angela Merkel with the 2019 WJC Theodor Herzl Award. The award ceremony was held at the Jewish community center in Munich, co-hosted by President of the Jewish Community of Munich and Upper Bavaria & WJC Commissioner for Holocaust Memory Dr. Charlotte Knobloch.
Thanking WJC President Lauder, Chancellor Merkel expressed her heartfelt gratitude for the honor of being chosen as the recipient of this award, saying: "It is humbling for me that I, as a German chancellor, can receive the Theodor Herzl Award today. Jewish life in Germany must be supported – and protected."
Recalling the attack on the synagogue in Halle over Yom Kippur, a "heinous crime that fills us with utmost shame," Chancellor Merkel said: "These are deeply troubling developments; they are directed at Jews in our country, but by no means only them. Because they attack us all: Jews and non-Jews alike, everything that our country stands on, our values and our freedoms. They hit at the core of our shared existence, because they flow from a deep hatred of democracy. We must never accept the fact that people in Germany have to live in fear because of their religious convictions. We must do everything in our power to make sure they can live their lives free and safe. Antisemitism and racism do not begin with violent acts; it is much subtler. We must make sure not to wake up only after words have become deeds."
The Chancellor underscored the fact that hatred proliferates not just on the streets, but also online, a distinct catalyst to her government's decision to pass a series of regulations later this week to ensure that incitement and aggressive hate speech are punished more severely.
"I regard this award that carries the name of Theodor Herzl as an obligation never to be content with what has been achieved but to continue striving toward a better future in unison with our partners," Chancellor Merkel said. "I want to encourage all of you to continue working towards a diverse and secure Jewish life in Germany – just as I will continue to do myself."
“The UN’s bias against Israel has long undermined peace, by encouraging an illusion that Israel will go away. Israel is not going away. When the world recognizes that, then peace becomes possible,” former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Wednesday, upon accepting the World Jewish Congress’ prestigious Theodor Herzl Award from WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, an accolade that recognizes outstanding individuals who work to promote Herzl’s ideals for a safer, more tolerant world for the Jewish people.
As a freshman in the United Nations, Haley said, it became clear to her that certain “outdated customs” of the organization, such as bullying Israel, had become common practice – complete with a “monthly Israel-bashing session” in the Security Council. One of the first lessons she learned, Haley said, is that “the most important thing is to not be afraid to rely on your core values, even when they go against outdated customs… [which] have gone unquestioned for years. One of those core values is standing up for your friends.”
“Some people accused us of favoritism toward Israel,” Haley related, adding: “But what we did was really not about favoritism. In all that we did at the UN, our approach to Israel was tied together by one major idea. The idea is the simple concept that Israel must be treated like any other normal country,” she said. “And that demand is actually a demand for peace.”
Furthermore, Haley said, amid the rising threats facing Jewish communities around the world, it is absolutely vital to continue to fight against antisemitism. “It is baffling to me that antisemitism is not treated with the same disdain as racism or other forms of hate. It is exactly the same. It must never be tolerated. It must never be excused. It must never be rationalized.”
In presenting the award to Ambassador Haley, WJC President Lauder underscored Ambassador Haley’s relentless support for the State of Israel, as a leading voice in the fight against the prevailing double standards and biases within the international community. Calling Ambassador Haley “perhaps the most courageous woman in America today” and a “breath of fresh air” who subjected the UN to “a strong and clear voice of truth", President Lauder said: “The Herzl Award comes with our gratitude, and with our deep appreciation. But it also comes at a price. You will not be able to rest because we expect even greater things from you … Like Herzl, you have championed a cause that has, and continues to have, more than its share of enemies. But it places you on the right side of history. And if there is anyone in this room that has the fire, the courage, and the faith to take on this test, it is you, Nikki Haley.”
Read entirely on World Jewish Congress website
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