New York, NY, September 19, 2014 … German media executive Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Axel Springer SE, today received one of the Anti-Defamation League’s highest honors for his and his company’s outspoken stand against anti-Semitism and staunch defense of the state of Israel.
Mr. Döpfner was presented with the ADL’s International Leadership Award in recognition of his leadership against anti-Jewish hatred and for “setting the standard for good corporate citizenship.” With headquarters in Berlin, Axel Springer is the largest media company in Europe.
The award was presented in ceremony earlier today at ADL National Headquarters in New York before an audience of international dignitaries.
“Mathias Döpfner and the company he leads, Axel Springer, are more than allies in the fight against anti-Semitism, on behalf of German-Jewish reconciliation and for maintaining a strong German alliance with Israel. They are true leaders,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, in presented the award. “Mathias Döpfner and Axel Springer have demonstrated unparalleled leadership in the business community to forge stronger and broader relations between Germany and Israel.”
In accepting the award, Mr. Döpfner remarked that, for him, speaking out about anti-Semitism wasn’t about courage, but “…it is just the natural thing, the obvious thing, the thing that any human being should do.”
“Anti-Semitism has no place anywhere in the world and particularly in Germany after the Holocaust,” Mr. Döpfner said, noting that anti-Semitism is gaining a new foothold in Germany society on the extreme far-right, the extreme far-left and among some fundamentalist Muslim immigrants. “We have to be very careful that this (anti-Semitic) voice that is now very loud in Germany -- and indeed across Europe – that this voice is not undoing everything that has been accomplished in Germany since the Holocaust.”
After a series of anti-Semitic incidents earlier this summer during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, Bild, Axel Springer’s flagship publication and the largest circulation newspaper in Germany collected more than 70 statements against anti-Semitism from leaders in all segments of German society. Those statements, which appeared in the newspaper on July 25, included clear condemnations of anti-Jewish hatred by the chancellor, the president, and prominent political leaders, as well as athletes, actors, celebrities, business leaders, media personalities and many others.
“That Friday morning, Bild’s readers may have been expecting celebrity news and the latest fashion model,” said Mr. Foxman. “Instead, they got a powerful message about anti-Semitism which reached every corner of Germany. That is leadership.”
Also this summer, Bild published the photos and brief profiles of every soldier and victim of terrorism killed during the conflict to stop Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza.
Under Mr. Döpfner’s leadership, Axel Springer has co-hosted the European-Israeli Dialogue, where Israeli and European leaders in defense, intelligence and strategy exchange opinions on common threats. And Axel Springer has sponsored for over a decade an exchange program for promising German and Israeli journalists, the Ernst Cramer Fellowship.
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 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.
The award is a special framed paper cut made in Israel, which reads, in Hebrew and in English, “V’ahavta l’reackha kamokha – “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” which is one of the most sacred admonitions of the Torah.
One of the largest digital publishing houses in Europe, with numerous multimedia news brands, such as Bild, Welt, and Fakt, Axel Springer, headquartered in Berlin, Germany, is active in more than 40 countries with subsidiaries, joint ventures and licenses. It was founded in 1946 by journalist Axel Springer.