ADL Honors 9th Israeli President Shimon Peres and Google Chairman Eric Schmidt with its Highest Honors

New York, NY, September 23, 2014 … Last night at a celebratory dinner event in New York City, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) presented two of its top awards to Shimon Peres, the ninth president of the State of Israel, and Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google.

President Peres, a nonagenarian who has served in nearly every high official Israeli government post, was presented with ADL’s Distinguished Statesman Award in honor of his wisdom, statesmanship and remarkable career in service to Israel and the Jewish people.

Mr. Schmidt received the League’s International Leadership Award, which was established to pay tribute to exceptional individuals and corporations whose vision, imagination and creativity have left an indelible mark upon the global community.

The awards were presented by Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, who noted the synergy in presenting those honors to two global standard bearers whose leadership had changed the world for the better.

“Just think of the diverse contributions Shimon Peres has made to mankind,” Mr. Foxman said in presenting the award to the longtime Israeli leader. “Take his efforts to try to bring about Israeli-Palestinian peace reflected in his sharing the Nobel Peace Prize. … And then he went off in what appears to be a completely different direction in setting up a foundation to explore the human brain. What political figure anywhere can find the energy, the passion and the curiosity to engage seriously both the need for peace for his people and the profound questions about the amazing workings of the human brain?  But for Shimon Peres, medical research, technological advances, and economic development are vehicles to bring people together, promote understanding and eventually bring about peace.”

Mr. Peres spoke about the miracle of the survival of the Jewish people, despite anti-Semitism and persecution through the ages and attempts by multiple Arab armies to destroy the Jewish state.

“Out of communism was born the mighty Soviet Union, the great communist party. Out of Judaism was born a tiny little movement. But look what happened to communism, and look what happened to Zionism.  They started big, and they lost.  We started small, and we won.  And it was very much because we have two armies: a moral army, led by ADL and Abe (Foxman) is the commander who knows how to mobilize, how to stand, how to connect; and then there is a real army too, with soldiers, who just went through a very demanding, very difficult war against terror.” 

Mr. Peres added that at the end of the day “the greatest victory will be peace” between Israelis and Palestinians.

The awards were presented before an audience of distinguished dignitaries and diplomats, including Ambassador Ron Prosor, Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and members of the Israeli high-tech industry.

In accepting his award, Mr. Schmidt remarked that the internet had changed the world in profound ways.  He praised ADL’s effort to combat hate on the internet and bring together an industry working group to grapple with the issue -- resulting in the release of “Best Practices for Responding to Cyberhate” -- adding he believes the spread of technology has made it harder for bigots to hide their views.

“We think that this explosion of hatred is something new, but the real truth is that it has always been there and now we’re aware of it. It never happens now without us knowing about it,” he said. “ADL, inspired by you all, the leadership here, goes after it and you go after it with facts, you go after it with truth, you go after it with doubt.  The thing that the internet allows you to do is to find it, and we all have a responsibility in the moment you see it, to hit it.  Rapid response every time, and stop it before it takes off.  That’s the new world of ADL.”

Past recipients of the ADL Distinguished Statesman Award include U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano; former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski; Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi; Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; French President Jacques Chirac; Latvian President Guntis Ulmanis; Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz; Ambassador Madeleine Albright; German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel; and Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis.

The ADL International Leadership Award honors those who combine corporate success with a profound commitment to community involvement and to crossing borders and barriers with a message of cultural diversity and equal opportunity. Past recipients include Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE, Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen, Rupert Murdoch, CEO of the News Corporation, Maurice Levy, CEO of the Publicis Groupe, Jack Kliger, CEO of Hachette Filipacchi Media, Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, CEO of L’Oreal and Cees Van Der Hoeven, CEO of Royal Ahold.