Nikki Haley receives prestigious Zionist award: ‘Most courageous woman in America today’

The former American ambassador to the U.N. received recognition for her staunch defense of Israel in the international body.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Nikki Haley said that she depended on her “core values” to defend Israel in the U.N. when she was presented with the Theodor Herzl Award Wednesday for her unwavering support of the Jewish state in the world body during her tenure as U.S. ambassador.

Accusing the Security Council of following years of “unquestioned, outdated customs” like “a monthly Israel-bashing session,” she told the appreciative audience that her strength to counter it came from “not [being] afraid to rely on your core values.” For Haley, this includes “standing up for your friends.”

It was not a matter of favoritism, she said. “In all that we did at the U.N., our approach to Israel was tied together by one major idea. The idea is the simple concept that Israel must be treated like any other normal country. And that demand is actually a demand for peace.”

She quickly learned that this was not what the U.N. was about, however.

“The U.N.’s bias against Israel has long undermined peace, by encouraging an illusion that Israel will go away. Israel is not going away. When the world recognizes that, then peace becomes possible,” Haley said.

The ambassador, who served for two years in the U.N. (2017-2018) and whose name has been floated as a future presidential contender, also touched on the rise of global anti-Semitism in her acceptance speech.

“It is baffling to me that anti-Semitism is not treated with the same disdain as racism or other forms of hate. It is exactly the same.  It must never be tolerated.  It must never be excused.  It must never be rationalized,” she said.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) gives the award, its highest, to those individuals who work to promote Herzl’s ideals for a safer, more tolerant world for the Jewish people.

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In presenting Haley with the statuette, WJC President Ronald Lauder called the ambassador “perhaps the most courageous woman in America today” as one who was “a strong and clear voice of truth” in the U.N.

He added that the award comes with a price, but one that he was sure Haley could pay.

“The Herzl Award comes with our gratitude, and with our deep appreciation. But it also comes at a price. You will not be able to rest because we expect even greater things from you … Like Herzl, you have championed a cause that has, and continues to have, more than its share of enemies. But it places you on the right side of history. And if there is anyone in this room that has the fire, the courage, and the faith to take on this test, it is you, Nikki Haley.”

The other 2019 recipient of the Theodor Herzl Award was German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This choice aroused some controversy, as many felt that Merkel has not done enough to counter the rising anti-Semitism in her country, including her refusal to designate all of Hezbollah as a terrorist entity, as have the U.S., the U.K., and Israel.

Merkel is also held responsible for allowing a million Muslim refugees into Germany, many of whom have brought anti-Semitic attitudes with them.

Lauder defended that decision in a Jerusalem Post op-ed earlier this month.

He wrote that Merkel “has indeed been strong in our defense. She has been, at times, a lone voice among European leaders defending Israel. She has followed in the traditions of previous chancellors, starting with Konrad Adenauer, to defend the Jewish people, and she has been one of the strongest voices against anti-Semitism.”

He also said that the award would “encourage” Merkel “to take stronger steps in this regard.”