Photo Credit: courtesy, Russian Jewish Congress
RJC executive committee member Viktor Vekselberg and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Nov 18 2020

In a virtual award ceremony from Moscow Tuesday night, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that “relations between Israel and Russia have been growing stronger” thanks to the leadership of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian Jewish Congress has presented Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with its ‘Global Influence Award’ “for an invaluable contribution to upholding peace and security.”

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Netanyahu received the award held November 18 2020 in a virtual ceremony due to the circumstances of the current COVID-19 pandemic. He thanked his presenters and the Russian Jewish community in a special video message: “The decision to bestow this award on the prime minister of Israel is a testament to your unequivocal and unwavering support for the State of Israel, support that is much appreciated by the people of Israel and by me personally,” he said.

“I appreciate your tireless efforts to strengthen Russian Jewry, to bolster Jewish education, Jewish heritage, Jewish identity, to enhance Jewish communal cultural and spiritual life, to fight anti-Semitism, to ensure Holocaust remembrance. I’m grateful for the respect and support President Putin gives to Russia’s Jewish community. Under his leadership, relations between Israel and Russia have been growing stronger,” Netanyahu said.

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Viktor Vekselberg, a member of the RJC executive committee, congratulated the prime minister at the presentation. “Benjamin Netanyahu has devoted his life to the security not only of his country, but the whole Middle East, one of the world’s biggest hotspots,” Vekselberg said.

“The fact that today, thanks to Netanyahu’s efforts, fewer and fewer Arab nations continue to consider themselves Israel’s sworn enemies, but, instead, are becoming its partners in order to face common challenges together, is a major achievement in attaining peace and true security.”

Israel’s newly appointed ambassador to Russia, Alexander Ben-Zvi, took part in the event, which became his first public appearance since taking office.

In addition to the prime minister, the 2020 RJC award was also presented to Denis Protsenko, head of the Kommunarka infectious diseases hospital, and one of the founders of the social art movement, Alexander Melamid. Last year’s event, held in Moscow’s Barvikha Luxury Village event hall, honored World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion and music artist Andrey Makarevich.

Funds raised by the RJC during this year’s online charitable marathon will go toward delivering food packages to the elderly, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers who care for bedridden patients, and for continued funding for the organization’s longstanding programs which include “Caregivers,” “Companions”, and “Mental Helpers.”

“We did our very best to ensure this virtual event feels as much in-person as possible. To do that, we kept pretty much all the attributes typical of our offline events,” explained RJC President, Yury Kanner, who spearheaded the marathon. “Every year, we gather hundreds of people help them do more acts of kindness. A tiny virus, which has had such a profound impact on our lives, cannot stop us from keeping our traditions this year, despite its many challenges. United, we can beat the virus – we won’t let it change our lives or eliminate our need to help others.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.
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