New York, NY, October 16, 2006 … Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), today was presented the French Legion of Honor for his lifelong service in the fight against anti-Semitism and prejudice, and for working to build bridges of understanding among nations and people.
The medal, France's highest civilian and military honor, was presented by President Jacques Chirac in a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
Mr. Chirac cited Mr. Foxman's commitment "to the service of mutual human understanding," noting that throughout his life he has championed three "inseparable causes:" the duty to remember the Holocaust, the battle against anti-Semitism, and promoting dialogue for peace among nations and people.
Mr. Chirac added that devotion to these causes is shared by the French government and people.
"You draw the strength of this commitment from your personal life experience, marked by the tragedy of the Holocaust," said President Chirac. "The duty to remember concerns first and foremost remembering the suffering of the Jewish people, the horror of the camps and the criminal collusion. You have actively contributed to this memory …."
"Your life and your contribution to peace among men are exceptional. Today, France expresses its esteem and gratitude to you," added President Chirac.
In his acceptance remarks, Mr. Foxman thanked President Chirac for his "strength, moral courage and friendship to the Jewish state and people."
"Why did I survive and 1.5 million children perish? Why am I here? I don't have an answer but I believe that maybe it is to have the privilege and opportunity every day to stand up -- in every way possible -- to hate, bigotry and anti-Semitism," said Mr. Foxman. "If I did not use that right to build respect and fight hatred, then my survival would have been meaningless."