ADL Honors Polish President for Leadership in Combating Anti-Semitism
New York, NY, September 19, 2005 … In an address to top leaders of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the President of Poland reaffirmed his country's commitment to combating "the twin scourges of anti-Semitism and xenophobia" both at home and as a leader on the world stage.
"There is simply no room for anti-Semitism in a democratic and law-abiding state," President Aleksander Kwasniewski told top ADL and Jewish community leaders at a September 16 lunch in his honor at the League's National Headquarters in New York City. President Kwasniewski was presented with ADL's Distinguished Statesman Award, an honor conferred on world leaders who exhibit a commitment to furthering the achievement of regional and world peace, and who possess a special commitment to promoting human and civil rights.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor born in Poland, cited Kwasniewski's "inspired leadership" in promoting Holocaust education and his "strong, unequivocal denunciation of anti-Semitism" among Poles.
"In his 10 years as President of the Polish Republic, Aleksander Kwasniewski has fought against all manifestations of anti-Semitism and has stressed the vital issues of education and the media as tools in the struggle against it," said Mr. Foxman. "Thanks to the determined leadership of President Kwasniewski and those who follow his march toward tolerance and justice, anti-Jewish bigotry is waning."
Poland has a unique responsibility to perpetuate the memory of the Holocaust and the history of Jewish culture that thrived there for centuries, President Kwasniewski said in accepting the ADL award.
"I do hope ever more of my fellow citizens shall come to regard the knowledge of the history of Polish Jewry an integral part of the knowledge of their own past," he said. "Taking action with the aim of arresting historical amnesia and dispelling ignorance is a precondition for combating the twin scourges of anti-Semitism and xenophobia that sprout to life again in many places around the globe."
Past recipients of the ADL Distinguished Statesman Award include Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (2003), Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (2002), President Jacques Chirac of France (2000), Guntis Ulmanis, President of Latvia (1998), Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz (1997), Ambassador Madeleine Albright (1996), German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel (1991), and Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis (1990).
Elected President of the Republic of Poland in 1995 and re-elected in 2000, Kwasniewski has led his country through a period of profound change. Under President Kwasniewski, Poland has emerged as a leading European democracy, with membership in both the European Union and NATO.
President Kwasniewski has actively promoted warm relations between Poland and the United states and is a key ally in the battle against global terrorism. He has overseen the development of close political and commercial ties between Poland and the State of Israel, and has ushered in a new era of reconciliation and understanding between the Polish and Jewish peoples.
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.