WJC confers its Herzl Award on Henry Kissinger

‘US must make up its mind’ what role it will play in Middle East, says former secretary of state from Nixon years

WJC PRESIDENT Ron Lauder (left), broadcaster Barbara Walters and former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger (photo credit: MAYA SHWAYDER)
WJC PRESIDENT Ron Lauder (left), broadcaster Barbara Walters and former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger
(photo credit: MAYA SHWAYDER)
NEW YORK – The World Jewish Congress celebrated the achievements of former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger by presenting him with the Theodor Herzl Award to honor how his “forward- thinking and bold action have shaped our globe.”
In his acceptance speech on Tuesday night, Kissinger, 91, touched on the existential threats facing Israel, including a Middle East where a “nuclear option seems more feasible.”
The US needs to decide what place it has in this world in which revolutions are quickly rewriting a map drawn less than 100 years ago, he said.
“The United States must make up its mind whether its primary objective is the democratic evolution of other countries, and to what extent and what price we will pay. It is crucial for the US to develop a conception of the future that we can sustain over a long period of time,” Kissinger said. “America must be a central and decisive player in these issues.
“In the United States, we have come to think of peace as something which can be contrived in a single effort, and will be permanent,” he concluded. “But we must understand that [for peace] we need countries and commitments, and the friendship between the US and Israel is an essential element.”
Kissinger was a crucial player during the Yom Kippur War, and in the reestablishment of close ties between Egypt and the United States during his tenure as secretary of state, both moves that made him popular with the crowd at the Waldorf Astoria on Tuesday.
He received the award from veteran broadcaster Barbara Walters, who told several funny anecdotes of interviewing Kissinger back in his days as secretary of state, sometimes having to ask him to repeat his answers to her questions because his accent – Kissinger was born in Germany and fled the Nazis in 1938, when he was 15 – made him hard to understand. A few years later, Walters recalled, she met Kissinger’s younger brother Walter, who did not have an accent. “I asked him why he didn’t speak with an accent, and he told me, ‘Because I listen!’” Walters recalled.
WJC President Ron Lauder, who opened the evening, told Kissinger, “We could really use you right now in Washington.”
Lauder told The Jerusalem Post that Kissinger’s speech was “spectacular” and a clear message to “stay strong” in the face of all that had happened recently.
Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor told the Post that the speech was a “deep reflection of the amazing bond between Israel and the US,” and of the values of “democracy and life” that Americans and Israelis share.