WJC to intensify battle against antisemitism on college campuses, Amb. Ronald S. Lauder announces at gala event

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NEW YORK – World Jewish Congress President
Ronald S. Lauder told the audience assembled for the organization’s gala dinner
Wednesday at the Museum of Modern Art that he had called an emergency meeting
to intensify the organization’s battle against antisemitism on college campuses.

“Today’s
hatred of Jews has set its focus on one target: the
world’s only Jewish state, Israel,” Amb. Lauder said, adding that its enemies
“are using a new weapon. … Now they may be
succeeding at undermining Israel politically. And they are concentrating their
efforts in high schools, colleges and universities to turn the next generation,
even Jewish students, against Israel.”

He also underscored the need for a
unified global Jewish community in securing the future of the Jewish people.
Amb. Lauder made the remarks just prior to awarding WJC’s top honor, the
Theodor Herzl Award, to Reuven (Ruvi) Rivlin, the Tenth President of the State
of Israel, for his courageous leadership on behalf of Israel and Jewish
communities worldwide.

The award celebrates individuals who work
to promote Herzl’s ideals through international support for Israel and enhanced
understanding of Jewish history, culture and peoplehood. 

“During a challenging moment in Israeli
politics, Reuven Rivlin’s positive voice, his optimism and his spirit, has
always been a reminder of the profound vision of hope for the Jewish State that
welcomes all people, of all religions, and all ethnic groups,” Amb. Lauder
said. “From his earlier work in the Knesset through his presidency, Reuven
Rivlin represents the very best of Israeli leadership.

Upon
accepting the award, President Rivlin said, “The Jewish people have the
historical, legal and moral right to sovereignty in our ancient homeland of
Eretz Israel,” He also said, “But sovereignty must also be earned by
responsibility, by the fact that we respect our rights as a sovereign nation to
uphold the civil rights of all citizens in our state. The State of Israel was
built in 1948 according to two values… that Israel must be a Jewish, democratic
state. Democratic and Jewish, Jewish and democratic — in one tone, in one
breath.”

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Also at the event, Ken Burns,
award-winning documentary filmmaker, received the seventh WJC Teddy Kollek
Award for the Advancement of Jewish Culture. Burns’ acclaimed 2022 series “The
U.S. and the Holocaust” vividly depicts the plight of Europe’s vulnerable Jews
and underscores the importance of WJC’s mission. 

Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, former U.S.
Secretary of State and 2014 Theodor Herzl Award honoree, whose family in 1938
fled Germany, introduced Burns.

Wednesday’s program included a
commemoration of the 84th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken
Glass, when Nazi forces in November 1938 perpetrated a wave of antisemitic
violence in Germany and Austria that killed 91 people and destroyed 267
synagogues. 

Also to commemorate Kristallnacht, a WJC
initiative displayed digitally reconstructed images of four destroyed
synagogues in Berlin, Dortmund, Frankfurt and Munich, Germany, on the buildings
that replaced them. At some sites, virtual reality glasses enabled viewers to
see the synagogue interiors of the time.

Previous recipients of the Herzl Award
include Dr. Albert Bourla, chairman and CEO of Pfizer;  President
Joseph R. Biden Jr.; German Chancellor Angela Merkel; UN Secretary-General
António Guterres; former U.S. Secretary of State Gen. Colin L. Powell; Elie and
Marion Wiesel; and, posthumously, President Ronald Reagan and German publisher
Axel Springer.

Actor Kirk Douglas was honored with the
inaugural Teddy Kollek Award in 2016, followed by film director George Stevens;
philanthropist Robert Kraft; Broadway actor, singer, director, and photographer
Joel Grey; Israel Philharmonic Orchestra Music Director Emeritus Zubin Mehta;
and violinist and conductor Itzhak Perlman. 

More information on the World Jewish
Congress event can be found here.

About the World Jewish Congress

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations.




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