To honor the 90th birthday of Israel’s president Friday, members of the House and Senate are to vote on whether to honor long-serving politician and diplomat Shimon Peres with the Congressional Gold Medal.
Peres, who presided over a celebrity studded conference in Jerusalem in June to mark his upcoming nonacentennial, was already awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama this year.
The House bill was introduced by Rep. Joseph Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Trent Franks, an Arizona Republican, while the Senate version was introduced by Sens. Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, and Kelly Ayotte a New Hampshire Republican.
“Shimon Peres has honorably served Israel for over 70 years, during which he has significantly contributed to United States interests and has played a pivotal role in forging the strong and unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel,” the House bill proclaims.
Franks said in a statement, "President Shimon Peres has embodied a commitment to the mutual values shared by the United States and Israel -- values that include the preservation of life, faith, family, and freedom.
"As a figure instrumental in deepening US-Israeli relations, Peres' lifelong dedication to these foundational principles, as well as his steadfast dedication to making the world a safer place from the sort of hateful ideologies that lead to terrorism, more than warrants his receiving a Congressional Gold Medal."
Should the legislation pass, Peres, who turns 90 on Friday, would be one of just nine individuals to win both the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which President Obama accorded Peres last year. The two medals are the highest U.S. civilian honors. Dual recipients include Nelson Mandela, who led the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa; Martin Luther King, the U.S. civil rights giant; Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust memoirist; and Aung San Suu Kyii, the Burmese democracy activist.
"The Congressional Gold Medal to Shimon Peres will reaffirm the United States Congress’ continual support for Israel as we commemorate Israel’s 65th anniversary and Shimon Peres’ 90th birthday, both significant milestones in Israeli history," wrote Ezra Friedlander, a New York-based lobbyist and consultant in a letter seeking support for the measure. Friedlander spearheaded the push to award the medal along with Rabbi David Baron of the Temple of the Arts in Beverly Hills.
Peres made this video in 2012 promoting his Facebook page and looking back on his career.
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