WASHINGTON, April 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC will honor Panama President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal with its prestigious Light Unto the Nations award at the advocacy organization's Global Forum. The award will be presented at AJC's Annual Gala on Thursday, April 28, 7 p.m., at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
"President Martinelli personifies what it means to be a Light Unto the Nations," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "The President's firm support for the State of Israel is grounded in doing what's right, and rejecting the temptation to succumb to automatic international condemnation of Israel. For that deeply principled position, as well as for his steadfast friendship with the Jewish people, we are deeply appreciative of President Martinelli's leadership."
Light Unto the Nations is the highest award AJC presents to distinguished national leaders. Previous recipients include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, U.S. President Bill Clinton, Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
Martinelli, after his election in 2009, fulfilled a campaign promise to review Panama's voting record on the Arab-Israeli conflict in the UN and other international forums. "President Martinelli has made abundantly clear that he stands by the side of a fellow democracy, Israel," said Harris.
Recently, Panama was the only country in Latin America, and one of only seven worldwide, which voted against the UN resolution requesting that the Security Council accept the recommendations of the controversial Goldstone report, which sharply condemned Israel for alleged actions during its campaign against Hamas in Gaza in 2009.
AJC, through its Latino and Latin American Affairs Institute, has extensive relations throughout the region. An AJC senior leadership delegation visited Panama in March 2010, and met with President Martinelli as well as several senior government officials.
The Panama Jewish community is an AJC international partner, and a large delegation will attend this year's Global Forum.
The Global Forum is the new name for AJC's annual meeting, and this year will bring together nearly 1,100 participants from across the United States and 50 Jewish communities around the world, including 100 delegates from Latin America alone.