The office of Israeli President Shimon Peres said on Thursday that he will confer Israel’s Presidential Medal of Distinction upon German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a ceremony in Jerusalem on February 25th.
In a statement, the President’s Office said the medal, the highest civilian award in Israel, is being bestowed upon Dr. Merkel “for her unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and the fight against anti-Semitism and racism in particular through education.”
Following the ceremony President Peres and Chancellor Merkel will conduct a diplomatic work meeting during which they will discuss the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the Iranian nuclear program and relations between Israel and Germany, the President’s Office said.
President Peres and the nomination committee said the following about choosing Dr. Merkel for the award:
“Dr. Angela Merkel, is an exceptional leader with a deep moral conviction and high ideals including in her warm relations with the State of Israel and the Jewish people. Chancellor Merkel sets a wonderful example on education against anti-Semitism, racism and hate and works tirelessly to expand the work being done on these issues with the aim of educating future generations in Germany towards equality, tolerance and acceptance of the other.”
“Chancellor Merkel not only strengthened the diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany but also the security relations. This commitment has been exemplified by the numerous examples of Germany standing absolutely by Israel’s side within the European Union and the firm stance taken by the government against the delegitimization of Israel in the world.”
“Chancellor Merkel placed Germany’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security at the forefront of relations between the two countries. The strategic and security cooperation between Israel and Germany have reached new heights under her leadership. Chancellor Merkel is a leader of vision and foresight, an outstanding personality and she has captured the hearts of the entire world. She is a leader whose values inspire hope and whose actions inspire wonder.”
The advisory committee for the Presidential Medal of Distinction includes retired Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, former President Yitzhak Navon, Professor Suzie Navot, Dr. Mohammed Issawi, Rabbi Dr. Ratzon Arusi, Gil Shwed and Professor Anita Shapira.
Previous winners of the award include U.S. President Barack Obama, U.S. President Bill Clinton, Noble Laureate and The Algemeiner Advisory Board Chairman Elie Wiesel, Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, the Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr. Zubin Mehta, Attorney Uri Slonim, Judy Feld Carr, The Rashi Foundation and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.
The award is bestowed annually to private individuals and organizations that have made unique and outstanding contributions to Tikkun Olam (Bettering the World), Israeli society and the State of Israel’s image around the world, and which constitute examples of initiative, innovation, creativity and vision.
The medals themselves feature the North Star to symbolize the right path and a menorah, the symbol of Israel. The medal is crowned with the words from Samuel 9:2 “from his shoulders and upward.”
Israel’s Presidential Medal of Distinction is comparable to France’s “Legion of Honor” or the “Order of Canada.”