President Shimon Peres shakes hands with Elie Wiesel and the Dalai
Lama (center) in the Petra Conference of Nobel Laureates.
Photo: Moshe Milner, GPO, 06/18/2008
The President of the State of Israel, President Shimon Peres, and the advisory committee for the Presidential Medal of Distinction, announced the names of the latest recipients of the award which is conferred upon 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.
Among the recipients is world famous Hollywood film director Steven Spielberg who is being awarded the medal for his contribution to cinema over the past 50 years and specifically his unique contribution to the memory of the Holocaust, to the State of Israel, to the Jewish people and Tikkun Olam. Spielberg has made a series of important historical films and has been central to the shaping of the Jewish and American ethos. Most famously he directed the Oscar Winning, Schindler's List, one of the most important films in the history of cinema. Also among the recipients is Professor Elie Wiesel who is one of the world's top Jewish writers and intellectuals, a Holocaust survivor who for decades has worked to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust across the world and is the leading figure in the United States of America on the subject. He has published over 40 books and has been awarded a host of literature prizes. In 1986 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.
The other recipients are Brig. Gen (res.) Avigdor Kahalani who is receiving the award 40 years after fighting in the Yom Kippur War (for which he later received the Medal of Valor) for his leadership and lifelong contribution to Israel's security. Rabbi Elimelech Firer who, with no formal medical traiing, created a unique medical network which today serves as a central focal point for those requiring medical assistance and consultation. Dr. Zvi (Harry) Tabor who moved to Israel as a young scientist, created the National Physical Laboratory of Israel and played a prominent role in Israel's solar energy program. Avi Naor who is the founder, Chairman and driving force of Or Yarok (the association for safer driving in Israel), an organization he founded following the death of his son in a traffic accident.
Background Information on the Presidential Medal of Distinction:
The Presidential Medal of Distinction is awarded 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 and the continuous link between past and present. The medal is crowned with the words from Samuel 9:2 "from his shoulders and upward." The Presidential Medal of Distinction is comparable to the "Legion of Honor" (France) or the "Order of Canada."
Previous winners of the award include President Obama, former President Clinton, former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, the Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr. Zubin Mehta, The Rashi Foundation and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. 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.
Communicated by the Spokesperson's Department Office of the President