Malcolm Hoenlein (center) receives his honorary doctorate from Bar-Ilan University flanked by (from left) Gail Propp, Prof. Arie Zaban, president of BIU, Michael Jesselson s and Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky.
(photo credit: CHEN DAMARI)
SITTING IN the executive lounge of Tel Aviv’s Dan Hotel on May 8, Malcolm Hoenlein reflects on his 50-year career as an American Jewish leader ahead of a festive ceremony that evening in which he will receive an honorary doctorate from Bar-Ilan University. Already dressed impeccably in a beautiful suit, he articulately reflects on the last three decades during which he has steered the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella group of more than 50 diverse groups, and appeals for Jewish unity as Israel recently celebrated its 70th anniversary.Hoenlein is a superb storyteller. I ask him what he thinks about President Donald Trump’s decision to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14, the day on which David Ben-Gurion declared the State of Israel. In classic Hoenlein fashion, he answers with the story behind getting what is called the Jerusalem Embassy Act passed by Congress in 1995.