awards

Johann Peter Rupert
Thank you, Rabbi Schneier, Maurice. Merci beaucoup. Christine, well done. And now that I have to call you Secretary of Treasury Mnuchin, I’ll defer to you. Thank you for your nice words. But a special thank you for Dr. Kissinger for being here. Rockefeller’s grandson came up to me today just now, and I was saying to him what a favor he did me by giving me a job in the ‘70s and introducing me to you. Wonderful days. Thank you for your guidance and wisdom over the years. It’s a real pleasure to see you, sir.

Now Maurice, my late mother would have been very proud of everything that you said, but my wife and daughters and friends here know it’s total nonsense, but my mother would have been very proud. Now once again please accept my sincerest apologies for the delay in the replying initially and for Alain Dominique Perrin that I’ll get out of later for not replying, but it’s not really, Gaynor, my wife’s nor my style, big galas.

Some of you remember the late great friend, Jimmy Goldsmith, who we used to say, “How much do I have to pay not to go?” So, then I had a look at the Appeal of Conscience Foundation. Remember I live in Cape Town. I used to live in New York. You weren’t as famous in the ‘70s. In any case, I was in Studio 54, so you wouldn’t have found me. There’s another reason that year ago Alain, and I decided we will never, ever, ever be in New York again during United Nations week. As every New Yorker knows, it’s to be avoided. So Alain, thanks.

Then I’ve always been suspicious of awards and testimonial event. Could someone perhaps somewhere be thinking I should retire? It seems always the case. Then my late mother also reminded me to consider that the praise of today is most probably as excessive as the criticism of tomorrow. Now this is an honor. Rabbi Schneier has promoted freedom, religious freedom, democracy, diversity, human rights, peace and mutual respect for over half a century. We should really be honoring him.

He used the words “peaceful coexistence,” and I was surprised because this was the motto of my father’s life, peaceful coexistence, and it was difficult. The real irony is even though our family first went there in 1662, because Cape Town was 1652 the Dutch East Indies Company, and New York was 1650 I think the Dutch West Indies Company.

Now for you entrepreneurs, rapacious capitalists, Eve(?), Alain, those were the first two limited liability companies in the world because these Dutchmen were partners. They suddenly realized if a ship sinks and they’re partners, they’re toast. So, they formed limited liability companies, Dutch West Indies here in New York, New Amsterdam and Cape Town.

So, given the idea that we’ve been there for a while, my first forefathers went there in 1662 with Africans, but things have not always been smooth sailing, and obviously during the apartheid era, things weren’t ... they were difficult and especially if you were white and Afrikaner, of Dutch heritage. You were considered a traitor, and you were called a communist, left-wing anarchist, locked up. In the ‘80s especially things got nasty.

Then F.W. de Klerk, bless his soul, for moral reasons decided to abolish apartheid, and very few people know that it was because of his religious beliefs, and he comes from nearly as conservative a background as you do in religion, The Reformed Church, and he just said it’s wrong, so he abolished apartheid. He knew he’d be hated by the Afrikaner. He released President Mandela, and I was in the remarkable position that he called me a year before his speech.

This was President de Klerk, and he asked me to promise him that I wouldn’t tell my wife, my parents, my children, but this is what he was going to do. He was going to release President Mandela, unban the ANC, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. Needless to say, I was shocked because I mean he hadn’t told his wife. He certainly hadn’t told his party. For a year we sat, and ironically the last two months of President Mandela’s stay in a home inside a jail, he’d been freed to go for quite a while, but he didn’t want to be released in the Cape. He wanted to be released in Pretoria.

In prison, de Klerk said, “You’re crazy. If I release you in Pretoria, you walk straight to the Union Buildings and you’re the president, so forget it. You are not getting released in Pretoria. You are getting released in Cape Town.” But in the meantime, the ANC had started a campaign of discrediting President Mandela, because they couldn’t believe it. They’d visit him off Robben Island, and he had a white butler.

Now so the ANC realized they had to act, so the famous day came. We were in London, and then that fateful telephone call that a lot of us in the room must have heard. “When are you coming home?” We were living in London, and he said, “No.” He’d read what I’d said, and I had to come home. From that day onwards, he really acted like a second father to me and to my wife and like a grandfather to our children. Alain was there with my godson. We’d call. Go and have dinner. We were very privileged. Things were good. We had President Mbeki.

Then a dark period set in, and unfortunately, we had a president that I believe had a little bit of a problem like the late Errol Flynn who said, “The problem with my life is that my gross needs exceed my net income.” When that happens, you become bribable. The world piled in. This is not to say that the ANC had not been bribed during previous times in, amongst others, by the French government (Inaudible), and the Germans and the Swedes and, and, and. Not America because of Jimmy Carter’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, but everybody else got in onto the act, but in those days the money, Jabu, went to the party. It didn’t go to individuals.

Then came President Zuma, and our country was sold, and unfortunately helping them were American advisors like Bain, McKinsey, SAP Software. Today I saw another name, but civil society fought back. Jabu knows. I had your equivalent of the IRS nine years. They finally apologized two months ago. The FBI equivalent, the CIA equivalent, the NSA equivalent, they were really tough. If can say one thing to you, Martin Luther King I never met. I idolized him, but when he said that in the end he remembered not the lies and the smears but remembered the silence of your friends, then that is so true. Everybody quiet. Not Jabu, but everybody else quiet.

That’s why I so thank you for what you’ve done for my wife and children here because we don’t often say thank you enough for people who do these things. However, we’re stuck with a mess because they took out tens and tens of billions of dollars. Without a breakthrough now that with the UAE, we can have a discussion about criminals, but we need to find the money, and I’m not going to repeat what I said earlier on where I’ve pleaded with some of my friends on my right over here to help us, but we’re going to need help.

If we don’t get help, I’m going to be seeing a lot of Christine Lagarde because we will be visiting the IMF quite regularly, and I don’t want to see you in a professional way on behalf of the country. So, we are going to need help. As for philanthropy, what’s so bad about sharing a bit of luck?

As an Irish friend of mine, J.P. McManus said, “If you’re lucky, what’s so bad about sharing a little bit of luck?” My family and I have decided that it’s much better to share, but what you’re doing, Rabbi Schneier, about peaceful coexistence in mankind, I would like to extend, and I think man should also live in peaceful coexistence with nature, and I think if we don’t take it more seriously and if people can actually believe that climate change is not for real, then frankly they live in a world that I don’t live in.

Sometimes I worry about us as superior species. We’re killing off species annually, and we are very involved in peace parks and the way we literally do tens of millions of hectares to give animals a place to roam and places to be free. Now from here to Central Park is a little bit over a mile. If you take that mile and you turn it into a cube and you squeeze every single human being alive today like sardines ... Christine, they don’t know what a kilometer is, but it’s five eighths of a mile.

All the human beings alive today will fit into a cubic kilometer, seven and a half billion, and yet we’ve denuded the planet. We’ve created over eight billion metric tons of plastic. Ninety percent is not recycled. So, whilst we’re looking at peaceful coexistence between man and man, and this I use in a strictly sexually neutral sense that’s mankind – it’s man and woman before you think anything – mankind, we should also think of peaceful coexistence with the planet. I thank you very, very much.

It’s been an honor. Rabbi, thank you.
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