Presentation of the Commander of Wissam Alaouite Medal
November 19, 2015
New York, NY
Presentation of the Commander of Wissam Alaouite Medal Your Excellency Ahmed Toufiq,
Your Excellency Serge Berdugo,
Your Excellency Ambassador Rachad Bouhlal,
Your Excellency Ambassador Omar Hillale,

I am grateful to you both for being the dedicated emissaries of His Majesty King Mohammed VI in bestowing the prestigious Commander of Wissam Alaouite medal upon me and my beloved friends and co-partners at the Appeal of Conscience Foundation
His Eminence Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan,
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios,
In Washington, His Eminence Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Imam Mohamed Hagmagid.

On the 16th anniversary celebration of His Majesty King Muhammed VI's rule on July 30, 2015 in Rabat I was privileged to personally thank His Majesty for bestowing this high distinction and also thank him for being a role model of inter-religious peaceful coexistence between the children of Abraham.

We pray for the French people who faced a brutal terrorist attack once again, the worst in Paris since WWII. ISIS and other radical Islamists have devised a new warfare aimed at civilians. Most recently Beirut, the downing of the Russian civilian airplane, stabbings of civilians and terrorist attacks throughout Israel, blowing up churches, mosques and synagogues killing people at prayer.

In contrast His Majesty Mohammed VI is a firm rampart against those who misuse and abuse religion. I firmly believe “a crime perpetrated in the name of religion is the greatest crime against religion.”

Abraham’s mission statement, “be a blessing for life and not for death”. His Majesty’s decision to elevate spiritual leaders of the three monotheistic religions to the rank of Commanders of the Wissam Alaouite exemplifies the remarkable Moroccan tradition, which has been promoting for the last centuries an Islam of enhanced understanding and of shared life.
In 1983, I led the first ACF Inter-religious mission to Morocco. In 1986 in the Royal Palace, I joined the 200th anniversary celebration of Morocco’s recognition of the United States. In 1786 the first country to do so. As a survivor of the Holocaust I expressed to His Majesty Hassan II my gratitude for having foiled the infamous policy of Vichy government aimed at deporting Moroccan Jews to the Nazi extermination camps; Morocco became a haven of refuge. In one of the darkest chapters of history, His Majesty Hassan II was a beacon of light and justice.

In the Kingdom of Morocco, the 2011 constitution promulgated by King Muhammed VI is based on the long tradition of inter-religious coexistence. This explains the strong attachment of the Moroccan Jews to their ancestral land of birth.

Kibbud Hamet - honoring the dead - is an exemplary mitzvah which His Majesty King Mohammed VI has earned by supporting the rehabilitation of the Jewish Cemeteries of Morocco; a project which His Excellency Serge Berdugo, President of the Jewish Community, made his life's work.

I invoke upon His Majesty the fervent prayer "hanoten teshua lamelakhim" - He who gives salvation to Kings may He bless, guide and protect His Majesty and the Royal Family.

My brothers and fellow Commanders of the Wissam Alaouite Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop Demetrios, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Imam Hagmagid I am sure say amen to this blessing.

In a world of disorder and conflict, may religious leaders teach respect for diversity.
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