Moroccan King’s advisor André Azoulay awarded Presidential Medal of Honor by President of Israel
President of Israel, Isaac Herzog, awarded, on Sunday, the Presidential Medal of Honor to the Moroccan King’s Advisor, André Azoulay, known for his historic commitment to peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and to a two-state solution in which the words sovereignty, dignity and justice would be conjugated in the same way and with the same requirements for both peoples.
Past recipients of the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor include US Presidents Joe Biden, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, as well as such eminent figures as Henry Kissinger and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
André Azoulay’s lifelong challenge has always been rooted in and determined by his Moroccanness and his way of living his history, his identity and the various responsibilities that have been his throughout his life.
Probably the most important and emblematic date of his commitments was 1973 when, with his Jewish Moroccan and Sephardic intellectual friends, he created, in Paris, the Identity and Dialogue Movement, a pioneering Jewish organization to have mentioned in its charter of creation, the absolute necessity of giving a chance to the two-state solution, Israel and Palestine.
André Azoulay and his friends were among the first to get in touch with the PLO. And it was in a courageous move, unprecedented and widely criticized in the Jewish world at the time, that André Azoulay met, for the first time in 1974, in Toledo, Spain, Abu Mazen, then Yasser Arafat’s closest collaborator.
These contacts, clandestine but no less regular, were for a long time the route for the first discussions between the Israeli peace camp and Palestinian leaders.
At the time, Yasser Arafat had appointed the late Issam Sartawi, the great Palestinian leader assassinated in Lisbon during a meeting of the Socialist International, as a permanent contact for André Azoulay’s Identity and Dialogue Movement.
The other battle that embodies André Azoulay’s commitment is that of giving Moroccans of the Jewish faith, in Israel, Morocco, France, Canada and just about everywhere else in the world, the opportunity to reconcile with their own history, to reappropriate their heritage and their civilization on a spiritual, philosophical and moral level.
André Azoulay has often recalled in his writings and statements that the central and overriding objective of the Identity and Dialogue movement was to break the shackles of post-colonial cultural alienation, which had led a large part of the Moroccan Jewish community to turn their backs on their own three-thousand-year-old history, at the risk of cutting the umbilical thread of their identity and origins. It was a time when Moroccan Jews changed their names and places of birth.
This era is over and the reference to their Moroccanness is today a reason for the pride of almost all Moroccan Judaism reconciled with itself.
Whether an activist or a leader, André Azoulay acted and moved forward throughout his life, strengthened by the attentiveness, advise and support of the late king Hassan II and of King Mohammed VI, in their capacity as Chairman of the Al-Quds Committee. This consultation, this respect and this guidance have been the Ariadne’s thread from which the commitments of André Azoulay have developed and been strengthened. Today, he embodies in the world a Moroccan identity rich in its diversity, its modernity, and the exemplary ethics of its citizenship open to all humanities which, elsewhere, are confronted with doubt, withdrawal, and the most archaic regression.
The President of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder, has commended the distinction granted by the Israeli President to the Royal Advisor, André Azoulay, saying that it represents a tribute to the role of King Mohammed VI in promoting interfaith dialogue and peace in the Middle-East.
“President Herzog’s decision to award him with the Presidential Medal of Honor is a fitting salute to the impact he has made as advisor to His Majesty King Mohammed IV in fostering dialogue between Jewish and Muslim communities globally,” Mr. Lauder told MAP.
“I have known André Azoulay for more than 30 years”, he added, stressing the importance of Azoulay’s action not only in consolidating Jewish-Moroccan relations but also in endeavoring to bring about peace through a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.