Nina Boxer and Bono
Leica Digilux 1

Have Camera, Will Shoot
Bono at Tolerance Event

Story and Photos by Tim Boxer

DONNED my tux and took my wife to the Broadway Marriott Marquis for the annual Simon Wiesenthal Center fundraiser. With punk rock star Bono the heavy draw, I made sure I had my newly acquired Digilux 1.

The center, renowned worldwide for its research in prejudice and hate, chose well to honor the lead singer of the Irish group U2 with its Humanitarian Laureate Award.  Bono grew up in Ireland with a Catholic father and Protestant mother, so he knows what tolerance is all about.

Nina and I came to chronicle this auspicious event. Leica’s most formidable digital camera, with its one-button operation, commanded the respect of everyone it targeted. The brilliant images that instantly appeared in the monitor aroused the admiration of everyone I photographed. [See review in Products.]

Leica Digilux 1 could set a new standard for photojournalists.

Elizabeth Vargas, anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight Saturday, praised Bono effusively. In fact, every speaker praised Bono to no end.

“Bono’s lyrics speak about breaking down barriers,” Vargas gushed.

Jeffrey Sachs and Bono
Leica Digilux 1

She also lauded Rabbi Marvin Hier: “He is the best sound bite in the business.”

Rabbi Hier, founding dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, based in Los Angeles, honored Bono for his courageous efforts in fighting bigotry and standing up for the victims of AIDS and hunger in Africa.

Israeli Ambassador Yehuda Lancry joined the praise parade. He applauded Bono’s “unshakeable commitment to fight bigotry and hate.”

Even Bill Clinton, who wasn’t even present, got into the act. He sent a letter full of flattery for the rock star.  Rhonda Barad, eastern director for the center, read Clinton’s message. Taking his cue from the Haggadah, the former president said:

  • If Bono were only an extraordinary musician, dayenu [it would suffice].

  • If he were only a successful artist who worked for peace, dayenu.

  • If he only helped relieve poor nations of their debt, dayenu.
  • Dinner co-chair Ira Lipman, founder of Guardsmark, a security services company, announced that Wiesenthal has raised $11 million for its New York Tolerance Center. It will open on May 8.

    Jeffrey D. Sachs called his friend Bono “an incredible humanitarian.”

    The former Harvard economics professor, now head of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, told of accompanying Bono this year on a fact-finding mission to Africa.

    “We saw things that are almost impossible to describe,” Sachs said.

    “We went to a village in Malawi that was nothing more than a vast orphanage due to the scourge of AIDS. Millions of children are bereft of their parents who died from AIDS or the drought.

    “These deaths are avoidable. We just have to get the drugs to them.”

    When Bono mounted the stage for his rebuttal, he begged the audience, “Don’t tell my band I’m here. They don’t know I’m wearing a black tie and white shirt. That’s so unhip.”

    The singer said he sells music. But he also sells ideas. Right now he’s working on three ideas concerning Africa:

  • Increase debt cancellation for the poorest countries.

  • Fight the spread of AIDS.

  • Establish free trade zones.
  • He is especially keen on fighting AIDS. He said that 2.5 million Africans will die next year. They will leave behind 25 million orphans.

    “All because we don’t provide the drugs for them,” he said.

    Bono and fans
    Leica Digilux 1

    When Bono met Tom Lantos, the California Congressman talked about how the Nazis sent people on trains to the death camps.

    “Are we not watching people being put on trains again?” Bono said.

    “That’s what’s happening in Africa,” the congressman conceded.

    “I want to offer my services to lie on the tracks,” Bono said.

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