U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo listens during the news conference in Reykjavik.
(photo credit: ASGEIR ASGEIRSSON/REUTERS)
The World Values Network, the organization helmed by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, will honor US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at its annual dinner in New York City next month.
The event, scheduled for March 28 in the Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, will also honor Marion Wiesel, the wife of the late Elie Wiesel, and feature a concert by Israeli Eurovision winner Netta Barzilai.
In a statement, the organization said it was honoring Pompeo for “his strong and enduring support of Israel and the Jewish people and opposition to Iranian threats of death to America and Israel.”
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, Boteach said that “we’re giving him our highest award because he’s a friend of Israel and he deserves it. I think the American Jewish community was traumatized by the Iran nuclear deal... Pompeo’s eloquence and adamance in repeatedly warning the world to the dangers of Iran were remarkable.”
The rabbi acknowledged that the White House decision to pull troops from Syria is certainly not in Israel’s best interest, but “not every decision the Trump administration is going to make is going to be in Israel’s favor... this is the most pro-Israel administration in Israel’s history, but it’s not perfect.”
Three other individuals are also slated to be honored at the event in March: Jason Greenblatt, the Trump administration’s Middle East envoy; Carnegie Hall executive director Clive Gillinson; and Candi Carter, the executive producer of The View who will be feted for “building opportunities on behalf of individuals with disabilities.”
This is the seventh annual gala dinner hosted by Boteach and his organization. Last year, the honors were given to transgender media personality and Olympian Caitlyn Jenner, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and former White House press secretary Sean Spicer. In previous years, the awards have gone to Rwandan President Paul Kagame, US senators Robert Menendez and Ted Cruz, actors Ben Kingsley and Sean Penn and philanthropists Sheldon and Miriam Adelson.
Boteach pushed back against the idea that honoring a slew of Trump administration officials could give the event a partisan tinge.
“We don’t want to be partisan, and we’re not partisan,” Boteach said. “I don’t feel partisan. We will honor and acknowledge those who stand up for Israel and the Jewish people.”
Boteach told the Post Tuesday that he had also invited Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to attend the dinner and accept an award on behalf of her late father, Sen. Thomas D’Alesandro Jr., who supported actions aimed at saving Jewish refugees during the Holocaust. He said Pelosi had yet to give him a final answer on her attendance at the event.
“Nancy Pelosi is a great supporter of Israel,” he said. “We hope she can come.”
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