The premier B’nai B’rith International honor was presented on June 9 to Colombian President Alvaro Uribe in Bogota. The Presidential Gold Medallion for Humanitarianism is awarded to only a select few recipients who practice outstanding leadership and service to their communities.
B’nai B’rith International President Dennis W. Glick presented the award to Uribe and praised his efforts to combat terrorism and promote democratic values, as well as his support of the Jewish community and Israel. He also praised Uribe’s strong ethical and moral principles, through reference of the Jewish concept, “Pirke Avot.”
“The Pirke Avot tells us ‘Who is honored? He that honors mankind.’”Glick said at the award presentation. “It is a concept that says so much about why we are honoring you with this important award.”
The event was attended by more than 200 people, including members of the local Jewish community, diplomats, government officials, and the press.
Uribe was humbled and grateful in accepting his award.
“We in Colombia care and love the Jewish fellow countrymen and women who have brought to this country strong will to work hard for all the society, great creativity and imagination, culture and education,” Uribe said, “And I have a deep feeling of respect and admiration for Israel, a brave country always fighting for its rights and democracy. I feel deeply moved by this B’nai B’rith award but I receive it on behalf of the entire Colombian people."
As its latest recipient, Uribe joins select company honored with this prestigious award. Past winners include first Israeli Prime Minister David Ben Gurion; fourth Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir; former U.S. Presidents Harry S. Truman and John F. Kennedy; former Prime Minister of Australia Malcolm Fraser; and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
“We are pleased to present President Uribe with this award as he joins the many important leaders who have earned this honor,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “While President Uribe is such a good friend of the Jewish community and Israel, his greatest trait is his courage to act on moral principles when it is not always popular.”