U.S. President Barack Obama will receive the Presidential Medal of Honor from his Israeli counterpart, President Shimon Peres during his visit to the Jewish State next month.
The medal – likened to the French Legion of Honor and the Order of Canada – features the North Star “to symbolize the right path,” and a menorah, and is given to individuals and organizations “that have made unique and outstanding contributions to Tikkun Olam ("repairing the world"), Israeli society and the State of Israel’s image around the world, and which constitute examples of initiative, innovation, creativity and vision,” said a statement from the president’s residence.
America's cooperation was essential in creating the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, the statement went on to explain, "which saved the lives of many in Israel, and allowed space for political maneuvering by the Israeli government during times of crisis."
The awards committee added that Obama's presidency "is characterized by uncompromising faith and constant practices which promote equality regardless of religion, race, gender and sexual orientation, and the strengthening of the poorer classes in the United States, and the empowerment of democratic values, human rights, unity and peace in the world.
"Through his personal story and his actions as president of the United States, Barack Obama has become a symbol and model for democratic values and he reflects the spirit of equal opportunity in American society."
The President's Medal, which was awarded for the first time last year at the initiative of the Israeli president, is given to exceptional people and institutions who have made unique and extraordinary efforts to "repair the world" and who are a model of entrepreneurship, innovation, creativity and vision.
Last year, Obama awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor to Peres in a ceremony in Washington.
In remarks he made prior to handing Peres the medal, Obama described Israel as “one of our strongest allies and one of our closest friends," and said that Peres, “teaches us to never settle for the world as it is. We have a vision for the world as it ought to be and we have to strive for it."