U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-Dist. 4) was honored by the American Jewish Committee for his many years of leadership in the worldwide fight against anti-Semitism.
The annual Congressional Leadership Award was presented to Smith at AJC’s April 27-29 Global Forum in Washington, DC, for his “indefatigable efforts to combat worldwide anti-Semitism, rescue Soviet Jewry in the 1980s, and defend human rights.”
In accepting the award, Smith said, “Whether it be strengthening support for Israel or Jews worldwide or confronting the Iranian threat, pushing reconciliation in Sudan, or opposing the hypocrisy of Syria’s all-too-serious bid to join the already discredited UN Human Rights Council, the American Jewish Committee has a record of unparalleled competence and accomplishment.”
Smith recalled that in 1982, during his first term in Congress, he traveled with AJC leaders and others as part of a congressional delegation meeting with Soviet leaders and refuseniks in Moscow and Leningrad.
“For hours on end, our delegation heard stories of Soviet physical and mental abuse, systematic harassment, gulags and psychiatric prisons, and an array of wanton brutal acts of anti-Semitism,” he said. “Many of us got angry, and I for one decided in Moscow that I was ‘all in.’”
In presenting the award, Rabbi Andrew Baker, AJC director of international Jewish affairs, said, “For 30 years, Chris Smith has been our friend, ally, and a tireless advocate for human rights. As cochair of the Helsinki Commission, Chris organized a hearing on escalating anti-Semitic violence in Europe. It led to the first official conference on anti-Semitism ever mounted by an international governmental organization” — the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.
The AJC forum brought together a host of world leaders, AJC’s international partner agencies, and approximately 1,500 supporters — including a delegation of 36 from New Jersey — to celebrate the organization’s 106th anniversary.
Louis “Buzz” Warren of Bloomingdale, president of Metro NJ AJC, expressed pride that for the second year in a row, a member of the NJ congressional delegation had been recognized. Last year’s leadership award winner was Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).
Among the highlights for Warren was attending a dinner with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nickolay E. Mladenov, who, he said, in addressing the gathering decried “the threat of rising xenophobia and anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.”