Your Excellency, Ambassador Ron Prosor, Mr. Allan Jacobs, My Friend Mr. Dan Mariaschin, My Friend George Aaron, Friends and Family, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am honored to be here tonight to accept this prestigious award. I would like to thank you all for coming and for the generous support many of you have given to this event and to the B’nai B’rith. Allow me also to express my appreciation for the exceptionally kind words of George Aaron and allow me also to say how difficult it is to speak after the eloquent oratory of Ambassador Prosor.
This award is indeed prestigious and bestows a great honor on those who receive it. It is an incredible accolade, an indication of making it to the top of one’s profession.
At its very core Israel is a country imbued with the values you so generously support, values that can never be forgotten, ignored or taken for granted. Some of you may not know my background. My parents vigorously opposed apartheid in South Africa and Rhodesia in the 1960’s, and twice we were forced to leave our home and country. On one occasion the family was forced to flee in the middle of the night when my father received word that he was to be arrested the next morning. As someone who fled Apartheid and political oppression and who is part of a family that has committed itself to human rights, I know exactly why those values mean so much.
…To make this economy a world‐leading economy, I believe Israel must commit itself to focusing on unique internal challenges. These include educating all sectors of the society and continuing that education through higher grades, bringing into the economy the minorities including the Haredi, the Arabs, Druze, Bedouin and Ethiopians, creating the economic opportunities and conditions to reverse the current brain drain, stopping the hemorrhage of intellectual property out of the country, resolving the tensions that exist between the free market economy and the socialist based institutions, cultivating conditions for the young families of Israel to own homes, driving for best practices in corporate and government operations including adopting more rigorous and accountable governance standards, developing and implementing a clear philosophy of taxation and capital allocation, and elevating the level of the press.
This array of goals may sound daunting. But I believe that they are key to achieving a sustainable Israeli economy, an economy that will generate growth though high value jobs , one that will have sufficient revenues to underwrite its defense and domestic
needs, one that will have enough educated workers with the knowledge of core subjects required to staff those jobs and one that will have enough democracy and fairness embedded in it to secure the stability of the economy. All sectors of the Israeli economy must flourish for Israel to flourish.
Israel, a democratic nation, is important not just for Jews but also for all those who believe in democracy. And Jewish values are at the heart of this nation – the values that B’nai B’rith supports and encourages. The values we all should stand for. B’nai B’rith has stood as the voice of the Jewish people worldwide and as a staunch supporter of the State of Israel. Your impact on the citizens and the State of Israel is profound. And it is because of this that I would like to thank Dan and the organization for this award tonight – I am proud to receive this recognition from an organization that so fundamentally supports and cherishes core values that so closely match mine.