The American Jewish Committee last week honored U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice with its prestigious Distinguished Public Service Award.
"I’m deeply moved to receive AJC’s Distinguished Public Service Award,” said Rice. “I’m proud to accept this honor as a tribute to the dedicated work by President Obama, his administration, and my colleagues at the U.S. Mission to the UN.”
AJC Executive Director David Harris presented the award at the annual AJC Women’s Leadership Board luncheon. Nearly 250 attended the event at the UN Delegates Dining Room. Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, delivered the keynote address.
“You cannot succeed as U.S. ambassador to the UN unless you are feisty, tough and unafraid to speak out,” said David Harris. “Ambassador Rice puts courage and principle above convenience and cynicism.”
The plaque on the AJC award recognized Ambassador Rice’s role at the UN as a “staunch defender of human dignity and democratic values.”
Rice praised AJC for its long engagement with the UN, which began in 1945, at the very founding of the world body, and reviewed current challenges, especially the place of Israel at the UN.
“AJC has a distinguished history fighting for human rights, democracy, the Jewish people, and the state of Israel. I commend AJC and its leadership for your thoughtful approach,” said Rice. “We all understand the UN’s flaws. But AJC has also understood the importance of the UN, and of working for change with persistence, patience, and principle. That’s not the easiest path, but it is the most constructive one, and I’m grateful.”
One of the most glaring flaws of the UN has been the treatment of Israel. “Anyone who cares about the international system has to be concerned when one member state is unfairly singled out,” said Rice.
The continuous “barrage of obsessive, unbalanced, and relentless criticism” of Israel “undermines the UN’s own highest values,” Rice continued. “From President Obama on down, our view is that Israel-bashing at the UN isn’t just a problem for Israel. It’s a problem for all of us.”
Rice spoke about the U.S. commitment to countering the ongoing challenges both to Israel’s security and legitimacy. “The UN should be a place where conflicts are cooled, not inflamed—where confidence is built, not eroded,” she said.