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No. 17

October 16, 2000

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Appeal of Conscience
Honors German Chancellor

By Tim Boxer

OLOCAUST survivors, and German speaking ones at that, were the center of attraction as the Appeal of Conscience Foundation honored German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder at the Pierre Hotel during the United Nations Millennium Summit.

“My evening is fulfilled!” Dr. Ruth Westheimer exclaimed. “Henry Kissinger hugged and kissed me!”

Dr. Ruth came from Frankfurt and found safety as a child in Switzerland, while Kissinger and his family escaped to America just before the war began.

Rabbi Arthur Schneier, who created the Appeal of Conscience Foundation in 1965, found it ironic that he, a Holocaust survivor from Vienna, would one day be presenting an award to a German head of state.

With Henry Kissinger’s approval, Rabbi
Arthur Schneier presents World Statesman
Award to Chancellor Gerhard Schroder.

The rabbi wanted to deliver his speech in his native German but thought better of it. “I don’t want to inflict my American accent on the chancellor,” he said.

Kissinger, secretary of state from 1973-77, also declined to address the chancellor in his mother tongue. He didn’t want to cause any embarrassment, for he speaks in a “demoralizing” low dialect while the chancellor speaks High German.

While Schneier praised Schroder for trying to arrest “the new scourge of ethnic and racial conflict” in his country, other speakers praised the rabbi for leading an organization that works for religious freedom and human rights around the world.

“Massacre and hatred are not relics of the 20th century,” Gov. George Pataki said. “That’s why the foundation is so important.”

Phillp Purcell (from left), chairman/ceo
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter; Dr. Daniel
Vasella, chairman/ceo Novartis AG;
Chancellor Gerhard Schroder of Germany,
and Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president of
Appeal of Conscience Foundation.

Schneier also honored Dr. Daniel Vasella of Switzerland. He’s chairman and ceo of Novartis, which emerged in 1996 with the merger of Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy.

Vasella said that his pharmaceutical company  “recently decided to donate all medication needed for the worldwide elimination of leprosy.”

Adolph Ogi, president of Switzerland, arrived in the middle of dinner due to the crush of traffic.

“I’ve had nothing to eat, nothing to drink, but I have to make a speech,” he said good-naturedly. “I’ll make it short so I can get something to eat.”

Beset by unrest at home from extremists who oppose minorities, Schroder called for tolerance of foreign people and new ideas. Pointing to the United States, he said this is an example of the way talent and skills of people from various parts of the world can develop a country.

“Diversity enriches,” he said. “Diversity releases energies and fosters innovation.”

One of his main concerns, he said, is to ensure that his country remain open and attractive to people of different nationalities and religions.

“The percentage of our population who were born abroad is now as high as in the U.S. Against this backdrop, we have amended the law and made naturalization easier.”


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