In a world where antisemitism is on the rise, seven individuals have dedicated their lives to fighting this scourge. On Monday, they were honored with the inaugural AJC David Harris Award from the American Jewish Committee (AJC), named after the organization’s legendary former CEO.
According to a statement on behalf of the AJC, the envoys have shown exemplary leadership, moral courage and outstanding contribution to the global fight against antisemitism. They were honored in Tel Aviv during the AJC Global Forum, the organization’s annual meeting.
The envoys include Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, United States Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism; Katharina von Schnurbein, European Commission Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism and Fostering Jewish Life; Dr. Felix Klein, Federal Government Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany and the Fight Against Antisemitism; Lord John Mann, Independent Advisor to the Government on Antisemitism, United Kingdom; Eddo Verdoner, National Coordinator on Combating Antisemitism, Netherlands; Fernando Lottenberg, Commissioner for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism, Organization of American States (OAS); Rabbi Andrew Baker, AJC director of International Jewish Affairs; Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office on Combating Antisemitism.
The dedicated individuals
Holly Huffnagle, AJC’s US Director for Combating Antisemitism, introduced them at AJC Global Forum. “These are dedicated individuals who have tirelessly devoted themselves to exposing and confronting antisemitism around the world. And we see success. These envoys have shown how we can make progress when we refuse to back down.”
Von Schnurbein credited Harris, Huffnagle and others at AJC for convincing governments of their responsibility to act. “Today, more than 30 governments and international organizations have appointed envoys.”
David Harris was AJC CEO from 1990 until October 2022. He is the most decorated American Jewish leader in US history and was once called by the late Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres “the foreign minister of the Jewish people.”
Harris said at the ceremony in Tel Aviv that even after World War II, many nations found it difficult to acknowledge that antisemitism remained a persistent threat within their borders.
AJC president Michael Tichnor later said that Harris “stands in a category of his own when it comes to protecting and advancing the well-being of the Jewish people.”
Tichnor noted that under Harris’s leadership, AJC was the first to sound the alarm about rising antisemitism in Europe in the early 2000s. “David spent decades working with government officials to ensure they knew that fighting antisemitism is not the responsibility of Jews alone.”
AJC is a global advocacy organization for the Jewish people with headquarters in New York City and offices across the US and overseas.