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The Anti Defamation League for over 100 years has led the charge to deter and counter hate crimes, anti-Semitism, and all forms of bigotry. During the course of its existence, ADL has vigorously defended democratic ideals and fought for the protection of civil rights. This profound commitment to human dignity makes it an honor for me to accept the Anti Defamation League’s Achievement Award this evening.
I’m looking forward to sharing this evening with close friends and family as the ADL honors me with this prestigious award. I would like to thank the ADL and everyone involved in tonight’s event for this tremendous honor. I am forever grateful and I look forward to continuing to work alongside ADL to combat prejudice, extremism and intolerance across the nation and throughout the world.
For those of you who are attending tonight’s dinner, you will hear me speak in greater detail about the importance of ADL’s mission. For those of you who follow my blog, I’ve included a copy of my prepared remarks below. Additional information about ADL and its fine work can also be found at www.adl.org.
Remarks of Fred Malek
Anti-Defamation League Award Dinner
December 15, 2014
Thank you to my friends of 4 decades, Abe Foxman, and to my wonderful family and friends for being with us tonight. I am truly honored to have so many turn out for me, and of course for the ADL. Many nice things have been said about me tonight, and my heartfelt appreciation to Abe, Andrea, Ben, Bobbie, Norm, and Norm and special thanks to David Friedman and his regional team for all they did to make this evening successful. But in my mind, all of you here tonight deserved to be honored. More than a career or body of work, what truly matters in the long run is that we treat all with dignity and respect, that we are true to our word, and loyal to family and friends. We will be remembered much more for that than any career accomplishment. I believe that all in this room exemplify these values, and I believe any one of you would be a worthy honoree.
Tonight, I’d like to use my time to personally thank and honor the ADL for its mission, its work, and its vision.
One hundred and one years ago, when the ADL was started with two desks in a small Chicago law office, it was impossible to imagine the number of lives that would soon be sacrificed to the worst forms of hatred and prejudice.
World War I had not yet started, and hardly anyone used the word, “Holocaust.” We did not speak of civil rights, and in that year, 1913, when women asked for the right to vote, they were spat upon and beaten. How far we have come, and yet how far we still have to go.
Last May, the ADL released a ground breaking study, which found that over one-quarter of the world’s adults have anti-Semitic attitudes. That translates into more than one billion people. And that is a tragedy for all of us in the 21st century.
Seventy years after Auschwitz, it is heartbreaking, particularly for those of my generation, who can recall the atrocities of World War II, to hear anyone in Europe, or in any part of the world, chanting anti-semitic slogans. Such statements are inexcusable and indefensible. It is vitally important that the ADL continue to document and call to account those who would speak or act upon these horrible thoughts and words. “Never again” must always mean, never again.
But in its mission, the ADL reminds us that hate and bigotry are not confined simply to anti-Semitism. From its beginnings, the ADL believed that fighting against one form of prejudice required fighting against all forms of prejudice.
It is my sincere hope, and I believe the hope of everyone in this room, that in another hundred years, the need for the ADL will be greatly diminished. But until we become a color-blind, class-blind, and faith-blind society and nation, until we can truly become “a world without hate,” the ADL’s mission and message will remain essential to protecting our most basic freedoms.
All my adult life, I’ve used as my personal and ethical code the motto of my alma matter, West Point. It is three simple words that have a most profound meaning: “Duty, honor, country.” There is no greater honor that can be shown to our country than defending the ideals of democracy, protecting civil rights, and ending bigotry, and no greater duty for all of us. I am honored to be in your company. Thank you again.