New York, NY, June 23, 2015 … Numerous luminaries and public figures gathered on June 17 to pay tribute to Anti-Defamation League (ADL) National Director Abraham H. Foxman for his 50 years of service to ADL and the Jewish people.
Mr. Foxman, who is slated to retire on July 20, has been at ADL since 1965 and national director since 1987. He was feted at a dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City in front an audience of nearly 1,200 dignitaries, friends, lay leaders and donors. The event, which was hosted by Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric, also included remarks from Barry Curtiss-Lusher, ADL National Chair, who presented Mr. Foxman with ADL’s America’s Democratic Legacy Award.
“We wanted to do something to provide special recognition,” Mr. Curtiss-Lusher said. “We realized that the most appropriate recognition we could bestow is ADL’s highest honor to my partner, my friend and a great American.”
“Some of my most satisfying moments as Director of ADL were in witnessing people who did bad things and said vile things turn around and become better people,” Mr. Foxman said in his response. “I said many a time to all kinds of people that if I didn’t believe we could make progress in the battle against hate I wouldn’t be in this business. To be able to devote my entire adult life to the safety and security of the Jewish people would have been more than enough, but to do so within the framework of an organization so widely respected, an organization so widely known not only for its proud defense of Jews and Israel, but of all oppressed minorities, was a special blessing.”
President Barack Obama, President George W. Bush, and former National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger provided video tributes which were interspersed with remarks from other dignitaries in attendance including Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York. A letter thanking Mr. Foxman for his service from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was read by Couric.
“Wherever, however, whenever that sacred principle and the core of civilization is at risk we’ve come to count on the leadership of the voice of one Abe Foxman, whose credibility and eloquence in this noble cause is unparalleled,” Cardinal Dolan said. “Yes, I’m jealous that you seem to have better access to the Pope than I have.”
Other notables included the President’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice, who said Mr. Foxman was one of the first to call in support when she was the target of an attack ad earlier this year and detailed how much his support means to her and her family.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power described her relationship with Mr. Foxman over the years while serving in the White House, joked about inadvertently calling him after her young son reprogrammed her cell phone. “Even my butt was calling Foxman,” she said. “He said he loved getting my calls, but he was in California, and I was calling him at 4 am.”
Francoise Delattre, French Ambassador to the United Nations, referred to Mr. Foxman as a “national and international treasure,” and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman reflected on his long history with the ADL national director dating back to Jewish day camp in Wisconsin during their youth when Mr. Foxman was his counselor.
The tribute dinner also featured emotional anecdotes from NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, Yeshiva University President Richard Joel, Interfaith activist S.A. Ibrahim, Park East Synagogue’s Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Pulitzer Prize winning author Jon Meacham, NBA Commissioner Emeritus David Stern, Fox News Chairman and Chief Executive Roger Ailes, fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg and author and Israeli journalist Ari Shavit.
The dinner raised nearly $4 million in support of ADL.
Mr. Foxman was also recently honored in Washington, DC during the League’s national Leadership Summit by notables including Bob Schieffer, Anchor for CBS News Face the Nation, Ambassador Dennis Ross, Denis McDonough, President Obama's Chief of Staff, William Davidson Distinguished Fellow for the Washington Institute on Near East Policy, Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Leon Wieseltier, Isaiah Berlin Senior Fellow in Culture and Policy at The Brookings Institution and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ).
Israeli dignitaries also feted Mr. Foxman during a recent visit to the Jewish state, which included honors from Prime Minister Netanyahu, Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem, as well as letters and video tributes from Isaac Molho, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s special advisor and envoy, Professor Hanoch Guttfreund, Director of the Einstein Center at Hebrew University, Yuval Diskin, former Director of the Israeli Internal Security Service, Yossi Vardi, hi-tech and education entrepreneur, Amos Yadlin, Director of the Institute for National Security Studies, and former IDF chief of intelligence, Natan Sharansky, Chairman of the Executive, Jewish Agency, and Oshra Friedman, Coordinator of the Northern Region of the Rashi Foundation. The Israeli Foreign Ministry also honored Mr. Foxman during the 5th Global Forum for Combatting Anti-Semitism, and the Institute for National Security Studies and its director Amos Yadlin, presented Mr. Foxman with an award during a special evening in recognition of his distinguished career.
The entertainment industry also saluted Mr. Foxman during a November 2014 luncheon at ADL’s National Commission meeting in Los Angeles which featured tributes from Jim Gianopulous, CEO of 20th Century Fox, Lawrence Bender, creator of A Band Apart Productions, and actors Mark Feuerstein and Hal Linden.