Shultz tells WJC: US should form coalition against ISIS with Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Europe
NEW YORK – Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), honored former Secretary of State George P. Shultz on Monday with the prestigious WJC Theodor Herzl Award. Lauder and former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, himself a past Herzl Award recipient, presented the award to Shultz at a gala event at New York’s Waldorf Astoria.
Upon receiving the award, Shultz took to the podium and recounted how as US Secretary of State, he helped Soviet Jews immigrate to Israel. He then turned to the Middle East, offering his advice on contending with the security situation. “What do we need to do? We need to establish the fact that we need the United States. Because when we set out to do something, we do it.” Nevertheless, he admonished the US for “making empty threats” and stressed that “the US needs to get its credibility back.”
“Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of state terrorism,” continued Shultz. “When you look at Iran, you see a country that obviously wants to get a nuclear weapon. And every other day they say they want to exterminate Israel.”
Shultz also defended Israel’s actions against Hamas during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza: “The party that puts weapons in the midst of civilians is the war criminal – not the party that knocks those weapons out.”
Shultz further recommended that the US take a strong leadership role and organize a coalition against ISIS including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and America’s European allies. “If the US doesn’t lead, we get chaos,” he added.
Shultz praised the World Jewish Congress in his speech and stressed the importance of the American-Israeli friendship. “In these difficult times, trust is the coin of the realm — and we need to rebuild it,” he said. “And this organization, from all I can see, is helping to do that. It’s something we must do: we have to have a relationship of trust and common interest with our friends in Israel. God bless.”
The WJC Herzl Award recognizes outstanding individuals who work to promote Theodor Herzl’s ideals for a safer, more tolerant world for the Jewish people. Past recipients include Israeli President Shimon Peres, Elie and Marion Wiesel, Henry A. Kissinger, and, posthumously, Ronald Reagan and Axel Springer.
“There have been many famous speakers in this ballroom, but tonight we may have the greatest concentration of genius and achievement, with George Shultz and Henry Kissinger in one room,” said Lauder. “Two secretaries of state, two men who brought freedom to millions, and who left the world safer under their watch. Two men who made a difference and still do.”
“In 1938 the world said nothing, it did nothing – there was utter silence. Adolf Hitler clearly understood that silence,” Lauder said. “In some ways, nothing has changed in 77 years, but tonight we have a voice, and that voice is loud and clear and strong. Unlike in 1936, the World Jewish Congress today has tremendous influence and today our voice will be heard.”
Kissinger, upon introducing Shultz, recalled his own family’s escape from Europe that same year, saying, “I’ll never forget what America saved us from.” Kissinger praised the former Secretary of State for teaching him “the importance of standing for unshakeable principles.”
President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and Nadav Levy, a senior lecturer of economics at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and the son of Shultz’s former student, Joseph Levy, sent their congratulations to Shultz. “[George] helped save so many lives through what he called the ‘smart statecraft’ needed to secure the freedom of over a million Soviet Jews,” Kerry wrote. “He was, and remains, a firm believer in the importance of ensuring Israel is a safe and secure Jewish state.”
George Shultz served in the Reagan administration as Secretary of State (1982-1989) and, before that, as chairman of the President’s Economic Policy Advisory Board (1981-82). A New York native, he graduated from Princeton University in 1942. After serving in the Marine Corps, he earned a Ph.D. from MIT. He taught at MIT and the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, where he became dean in 1962. He was appointed Secretary of Labor in 1969, Director of the Office of Management and Budget in 1970, and Secretary of the Treasury in 1972. From 1974 to 1982, he was president of Bechtel Group Inc.
Shultz is Honorary Chairman of the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Chair of the Precourt Institute Energy Advisory Council at Stanford, Chair of the MIT Energy Initiative External Advisory Board, and Chair of the Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy at the Hoover Institution.
The WJC Herzl Award Dinner was co-chaired by WJC President Lauder, WJC Governing Board Chairman David de Rothschild and WJC Treasurer Chella Safra. The Vice Chairs of the event were Len Blavatnik, Eli and Edythe Broad, Terry and Jean De Gunzburg, Simon and Jana Falic, Michael J. Horovitz, Robert K. Kraft, Norma Lerner, Nancy and Howard Marks, Julius Meinl, John A. Paulson, Ira Leon and Ingeborg Rennert, Aby Rosen, Haim Saban, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, Jerry I. Speyer, and Thomas J. Tisch.
The WJC has announced that German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be honored with the WJC Herzl Award in 2016.
About the World Jewish Congress:
The World Jewish Congress (WJC) is the international organization representing Jewish communities in 100 countries to governments, parliaments and international organizations.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs is the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada. We are a national, non-profit, non-partisan organization tasked with advancing the public policy interests of Canada’s Jewish community. CIJA is the Canadian affiliate of the World Jewish Congress.