Italy's Highest Civilian Honor Presented to ADL Leader
New York, NY, December 21, 2004 … In recognition of his work against racism, anti-Semitism and the protection of the rights of minorities, Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was honored by the Italian government with one of Italy's highest civilian honors, the Commendatore of the Italian Republic.
The award was presented to Mr. Foxman by Pierferdinando Casini, President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, during a landmark two-day conference on anti-Semitism convened last week in Rome by ADL, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian newspaper, Il Foglio. The award, conferred by President of the Republic Carlo Azeglio Ciampi on the recommendation of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, also cited Mr. Foxman's contributions to bettering U.S. – Italian relations.
"This is a very humbling moment and a reflection of how far we have come from the dark days of the Holocaust," Mr. Foxman, a Holocaust survivor, said in receiving the award at a ceremony during the Rome Conference, "Anti-Semitism – A Threat to Democracy," on December 16.
Recalling the traditional prayer recited by Jews on Passover, Dayaynu, Mr. Foxman continued, "It would have been sufficient if I had survived when 1.5 million children perished. It would have been sufficient to have become the head of ADL and to have the opportunity to fight anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance, and it would have been sufficient to have the privileged to stand with heads of state in that fight. But to now be regarded so highly by a people and a government that has taken the lead in fighting anti-Semitism in the 21st century, and in standing with the Jewish State of Israel, is for me the highest of honors. I hope that in the future I will earn what this award stands for."
The Commendatore of the Italian Republic consists of a certificate and a bronze medallion.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.