President Paul Kagame has been awarded with the Dr Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Award for Outstanding Friendship with the Jewish People from the World Values Network.
The award was presented, yesterday, at the World Values Network annual gala in New York, US.
The award recognises Kagame’s role in the fight against genocide as well as in contributing to Rwanda’s relations with Israel and the global Jewish community.
While presenting the award to him, Dr Mehmet Oz described him as a champion for human dignity and a fearless leader.
Speaking while accepting the recognition, President Kagame said that for a Rwandan, friendship with the Jewish people is entirely natural given the shared history.
The President noted that human dignity was at the centre of everything and it was the duty of all to protect it and curb all ideas and tendencies of hatred.
“Hatred can never be justified, irrespective of whatever grievance one may hold. It may not be easy but it is our responsibility to keep this corrosive emotion in check and out of public affairs. More generally we must always endeavour to be different from those who adhere to ideologies of hatred,” the President said.
He highlighted the role of forgiveness and reconciliation in rebuilding countries and societies after atrocities.
“As we know, acts of repentance and forgiveness among brothers and sisters are what have allowed us and allowed the divided family of Jacob to reconcile and ultimately become the nation of Israel which endures today. In Rwanda we see similarities with this lesson, everyday Rwandans are devoting themselves to the urgent task of deepening our national unity,” the President said.
Trivialising the Genocide
President Kagame said, across the world, efforts to deny and trivialise the Genocide against the Tutsi were on the rise despite the evidence present.
He called on concerted efforts to stand against Genocide denial.
“Efforts to deny and trivialise the genocide are on the rise around the world yet the fact of genocide cannot be avoided. We must come together to confront this serious threat and ensure that it does not take root in any society,” Kagame said.
He commended Rabbi Shmuley Boteach one of the curators of the event for establishing the International Genocide Centre, which he said Rwanda was ready to collaborate with in tackling denial.
Going forward, Kagame said that in the face of threats and danger, Rwanda will never rely on external promises of security and wellbeing but rather will always protect itself.
“Wherever we can we will also contribute to protecting others who are at risk,” he added.
The event also honoured Elie Wiesel, an internationally renowned Nobel Laureate, activist and Holocaust survivor who passed on last year.
While paying tribute to him, Kagame said Wiesel’s moral conscience transcended his own experiences and his messages were universal and timeless.
The World Values Network works on genocide education and prevention among other roles.
In 2013, the organisation launched the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards gala to recognise people who strive to affect society positively.