The Theodor Herzl Prize for 2019 was awarded to German Chancellor Ms. Angela Merkel. The World Jewish Congress awards this prestigious prize to public and political figures for their significant contribution to making the world more secure and tolerant for the Jewish people.
WJC President Ronald S. Lauder presented the award to Ms. Merkel at the ceremony attended by the EAJC President Dr. Mikhail Mirilashvili and other EAJC leaders.
In his speech, Mr. Lauder emphasized Germany’s efforts after the Second World War, the country’s desire to overcome its bleak past: “You, Ms. Chancellor Merkel, are a genuine symbol of this incredible success. You are a symbol of all the best that is in Germany after the war. You have always supported the Jewish community in this state, you have always supported Israel. ”
Expressing her gratitude to the leadership of the EJC, Chancellor Merkel emphasized that “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 afterwards have become deeds.”
Mikhail Mirilashvili personally expressed his gratitude to Chancellor Merkel for her concern for the Jewish community of Germany and contribution to the fight against anti-Semitism in Germany as well as in Europe as a whole.
Previous recipients of the Theodor Herzl Award: the Rothschild family, former Secretary of State General Colin L. Powell, former US Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Israeli President Shimon Peres, Elie and Marion Wiesel, former secretaries of state Henry A. Kissinger and George P. Shultz, and, posthumously, Ronald Reagan and Axel Springer.