University Honors German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and Hollinger's David Radler
The Foreign Minister of Germany, Mr. Joschka Fischer, headed a list of leading lights in different fields of endeavor on whom the University conferred its highest award, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Honoris Causa, at two separate hooding ceremonies marking the climax of the University’s 30th Board of Governors Meeting.
An unexpected scheduling conflict brought Fischer to Israel too late to arrive in Haifa on time for the scheduled evening ceremony. The hooding of the Foreign Minister took place the next morning, and another conferee, David Radler, president of Hollinger Inc., joined him on the dais for the second conferment ceremony.
The honorary doctorate conferees and their citations:
Joschka Fischer has been Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs and Vice-Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany since 1998. A declared friend of Israel from the start of his activity as a politician, he has been a vice-president of the German-Israel Society for some years. He was cited for “his leadership as a statesman who advances peace, equality, social welfare, and the preservation of the quality of the environment; … his determined struggle against racism and anti-Semitism; [and]… his contribution to the efforts to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
In his conferment speech, Fischer accepted German guilt for the Holocaust. “The responsibility for our history does not vanish or disappear,” he said, adding that “this must never happen again, not in democratic Germany.” He wondered what his country would be like today had not German Jews like Einstein and Martin Buber been forced to flee or murdered but lived “as respected citizens of Germany.”
“What Hitler and the Nazis did to German Jews,” the foreign minister stated, “they did first and foremost to Germans….”
He pointed out history’s lesson: “All forms of anti-Semitism have to me with our determined opposition.” The best response for “the darkest chapter in our history,” he said in conclusion, was “a growing Jewish community in Germany that can live safely and freely and an Israel whose people can live safely, free from terror and violence.” [See separate story on Fischer’s meeting with students.]
Martha C. Nussbaum is a distinguished philosopher who serves as Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, where she teaches in its Law School, Divinity School, and Department of Philosophy. A past president of the American Philosophical Society, she has dealt with a range of subjects in her philosophical writings: literature, law, classical studies, education, feminism, and sociology. The University recognized “her wide-ranging studies in the field of interdisciplinary philosophical thought, … [and] her contribution to the advancement of philosophical dialogue in [the United States] and around the world.”
For Nussbaum, addressing the idea of international society, “lasting peace requires a strong cultivation of international sympathy and understanding.” This may be gained from learning about distant nations, a process that in her view requires compassion. “Education of the heart,” she calls it. The world is interdependent—“moral laws bind us”—and “the urgent task,” she said, “is to give the young the information, to criticize stereotypes.” In this regard, “a beacon of hope and compassion might be born here in Israel,” she suggested.
F. David Radler, a co-founder of Hollinger Inc., which has grown to be one of the world’s largest international media companies, serves as deputy chairman and president of the corporation, which has more than 600 holdings spread over four continents. Among its newspapers are The Daily Telegraph (U.K.), The Jerusalem Post, and The Chicago Sun-Times. He was conferred with the honorary degree “in recognition of his contribution to international press communication; his support of cultural enterprises and higher education in Canada, the United States, and Israel; [and] his commitment to the Jewish community in Canada and in Israel.”
Radler told of the “tough decision” he had to make as a newspaper publisher in regard to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. “In this dispute,” he said, “there is no equivalency between the two sides. We do not seek balance. There is no moral equivalency between the suicide bomber and the victim.”
The publishing executive went on to say that his company would defend the integrity of Israel and point out the deficiencies of Israel’s adversaries.
Peretz Revesz went from helping to smuggle Jews out of Holocaust-rent Europe and later from Communist Hungary, where he was also director of Youth Aliya, to being elected secretary of his kibbutz twice. He then became involved with Kfar Tikvah, a communal settlement for people with special needs, which he served first as care manager and thereafter as responsible for raising funds for its support and for recruiting volunteers from abroad. His scroll cited “his heroic activity at risk to his own life in saving many Jewish lives during the Holocaust; … his central role in the rehabilitation of children and youth who survived the Holocaust and immigrated to Israel; [and] his assistance to his fellow human beings and his venerated activity at Kfar Tikvah; and his contribution to instilling the heritage of the Holocaust for the generations to come.”
The 76-year-old Revesz said that he had never been aware of doing anything extraordinary, the “tasks merely met a necessity.” He remarked that in accepting the honor, he was “representing many brave, devoted youngsters who took part” in the rescue activities during and following the Holocaust. He concluded by acknowledging his wife of 62 years, Nonika, “who was always by my side with her support.”
Joseph Schlessinger, a renowned immunologist who has set up companies to produce pharmaceuticals that he developed to fight cancer and diabetes, is now based at Yale Medical School. The Israeli-reared and educated scientist has published more than 400 scientific articles, on his innovative ideas and research in the areas of medicine, medical genetics, and biotechnology. The University acknowledged “his unique and wide-ranging scientific contribution to the advancement of molecular biology, pharmacology, and medicine; … his dedication to the training of young researchers; and his cultivating of academic life in Israel.”
The scientist revealed that he has been “curious about the secrets of nature since childhood.” This curiosity has led to his trying to obtain a precise picture of the inner workings of cells. “I hope to engage in this work as long as I live,” he announced. He also looks upon the scientific endeavor as “a bond between nations,” noting that researchers from some thirty countries have trained in his laboratories.
Germany’s Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer (l.) and Hollinger Inc. president
F. David Radler find common ground after being conferred with the
University’s honorary doctorate.
This Year’s Honor Roll at 30th Board of Governors Meeting
(l.-r.) Peretz Revesz, Prof. Martha Nussbaum, and Prof. Joseph Schlessinger.
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