Legislation would award Israeli President with the Congressional Gold Medal
Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) announced today (05/19/2014) that legislation to honor Israeli President Shimon Peres with the Congressional Gold Medal (H.R. 2939) passed the House of Representatives byvoice vote. The bill was introduced last year by Rep. Kennedy and Rep. Franks in the House and Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) in the Senate. The Senate passed a companion version of the bill in March by unanimous consent.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian decoration in the United States, awarded to an individual who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States. This Congressional Gold Medal would be the first awarded to a sitting President of Israel.
“For over 70 years President Shimon Peres has dedicated himself to the enduring bond that unites Israel and the United States,” said Congressman Kennedy. “There has been no greater champion for our shared values and defender of our shared interests. The passage of this bill signifies that Congress and the American people stand strong in our support of Israel and her people. In recognition of his tireless efforts and of the friendship embedded deeply between our two countries, I am honored to join my colleagues in moving this bipartisan legislation forward.”
“President Shimon Peres has embodied a commitment to the mutual values shared by the United States and Israel — values that include the preservation of life, faith, family, and freedom,” said Congressman Franks. “As a figure instrumental in deepening US-Israeli relations, Peres’ lifelong dedication to these foundational principles, as well as his steadfast dedication to making the world a safer place from the sort of hateful ideologies that lead to terrorism, more than warrants his receiving a Congressional Gold Medal.”
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the United States. It is awarded to individuals, organizations, or events that have made a tremendous contribution to the history and culture of our country. Passage of today’s legislation would place Peres within a unique and dignified group of only nine individuals to have ever been awarded both the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which President Obama awarded Peres in 2012.
Other historic dual recipients of this award include Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Elie Wiesel, and Aung San Suu Kyii, the Burmese democracy activist. Of the eight dual medalists, four are also Nobel peace laureates.
“On behalf of my colleagues Stanley Treitel, Lee Samson, Robert Rechnitz, Hassan Ali bin Ali, and Joe Stamm, I’d like to thank Congressman Kennedy and Congressman Franks for introducing this legislation and ensuring its passage. The U.S. Israeli relationship has been greatly enhanced by this leadership and we look forward to their continued leadership for decades to come,” said Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group. Friedlander spearheaded the establishment of the Shimon Peres Congressional Gold Medal Commemoration Committee.
“The passage of this momentous legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Israeli President Shimon Peres marks another great chapter in the U.S. Israeli bond of shared democratic and cultural values,” said Rabbi David Baron, Chair of the Clergy Cabinet of the Shimon Peres Congressional Gold Medal Commemoration Committee and spiritual leader of the Temple of the Arts.
About Shimon Peres:
Shimon Peres was born in Poland in 1923 and his family emigrated to Tel Aviv in 1934. Peres went on to serve in several high-level cabinet positions in the Israeli government, including as Minister of Defense, Foreign Minister, and Prime Minister – a career in public service that spans over 70 years. A member of Israel’s founding generation; he was elected president in 2007. He celebrated his 90th birthday on August 2, 2013.
About the Congressional Gold Medal:
Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Each medal honors a particular individual, institution, or event. Although the first recipients included citizens who participated in the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the Mexican War, Congress broadened the scope of the medal to include actors, authors, entertainers, musicians, pioneers in aeronautics and space, explorers, lifesavers, notables in science and medicine, athletes, humanitarians, public servants, and foreign recipients.