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Press Release

ADL Honors Italian President for His Unequivocal Stand Against Anti-Semitism and Racism

New York, NY, February 15, 2013 … In recognition of his “uncompromising, unequivocal stand against the evil of anti-Semitism” and for “defending the rights of immigrants, minorities and others underrepresented in Italian society, ” the President of Italy will be honored today in Washington, D.C. with the Anti-Defamation League’s highest honor, the ADL Distinguished Statesman Award.

President Giorgio Napolitano is scheduled to accept the honor late this afternoon in a ceremony at Blair House.  The award will be presented by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, in front of an audience of distinguished dignitaries, including the Italian Ambassador and top U.S. diplomatic and administration officials.

In his prepared remarks, Mr. Foxman said the award was a tribute to the Italian president’s long record of denouncing anti-Semitism, opposing terrorism, speaking up in support of Israel, and defending the rights of immigrants, minorities and others underrepresented in Italian society.

 “We thank you for your unflinching, uncompromising, unequivocal stand against the evil of anti-Semitism and your readiness to promptly, vigorously and clearly add your voice as Italy’s president in denouncing anti-Semitic and racist incidents,” Mr. Foxman said.  “You have continually made your commitment to this vital battle a clear part of your public life and political leadership.”

The longtime ADL leader noted Italy’s close alliance with the United States and Israel, and how Mr. Napolitano had played a seminal role in nurturing those relationships.

He also noted the Italian president’s remarks several weeks ago on the International Day of Commemoration of the Shoah, in which he expressed dismay at the rise of neo-Nazi fanaticism and violence in Italy, and committed to making certain the lessons of the Holocaust are not forgotten.

“We treasure your longtime support of Israel and your advocacy on behalf of fair treatment for the Jewish state among the community of nations,” Mr. Foxman said.  “No wonder Israel and Israelis have such high regard for you and see Italy as such a close friend among the leading members of the European community.”

Past recipients of the ADL Distinguished Statesman Award include Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (2009), Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski (2005), Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (2003), Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (2002), President Jacques Chirac of France (2000), Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis (1998), Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz (1997), Ambassador Madeleine Albright (1996), German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel (1995), and Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis (1990).

The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.

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ADL's Distinguished Statesman Award is a stylized menorah designed by the Israeli artist Yaacov Agam.

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