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Adviser to Moroccan king to receive Presidential Medal of Honor

André Azoulay, a senior adviser to King Mohammed VI, and former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler are among the prize's 13 recipients.

President Isaac Herzog speaks at the Herzliya Conference on May 22, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
President Isaac Herzog speaks at the Herzliya Conference on May 22, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

A senior adviser to the King of Morocco and an internationally renowned Canadian law professor involved in combating global antisemitism are among the recipients of the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor, the President’s Office announced on Sunday.

The award, bestowed upon individuals who “made a unique contribution to the State of Israel,” will be conferred upon André Azoulay, 82, a senior adviser to King Mohammed VI, and Irwin Cotler, 83, a former Justice Minister of Canada and a world-renowned human rights advocate who has been a global leader in the fight against antisemitism.

“Azoulay has made an extraordinary contribution to Moroccan Jewry, the Jewish world, and the State of Israel, in cultivating and preserving relations with Morocco over the years, preserving Jewish heritage in Morocco, and providing support and advice to Israeli leaders in their quest for peace in the Middle East,” the President’s Office said in a statement announcing the honorees.

Azoulay founded the organization “Identity and Dialogue” in order to restore the Jewish heritage in Morocco and promote cross-cultural communication between Jews and Palestinians. In 2020, in the presence of the Moroccan King, a center for Jewish culture that Azoulay founded “Beit Dakhira,” was inaugurated in Asavira and “serves as a meeting place for Muslims and Jews and even hosts artists and creators from Israel.”

“His vision of establishing friendly and peaceful relations between Israel and Morocco was realized in the Abraham Accords and his influence is evident in every area of these relations,” the statement said.

Former Canadian Justice Minister Cotler, the statement continued, “is an influential leader who fights against the delegitimization of Israel and manifestations of antisemitism in the international arena. He has greatly contributed to Israel’s standing on the international stage with his commitment to the continued prosperity of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

In all, 13 people, ranging in age from 35-102, will receive the prize, in a festive ceremony in September, coinciding with Israel’s 75th anniversary year.

The Presidential Medal of Honor was an initiative of the Ninth President of the State of Israel, the late Shimon Peres, and was awarded for the first time in 2012. To date, the award has been awarded to 26 recipients, on the recommendation of an advisory committee headed by the retired president of the Supreme Court.

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