TEL AVIV (Feb. 26)
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the now-defunct Soviet Union, will make his first visit to Israel in June, to accept a peace award presented by the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.
Gorbachev, who will receive the prestigious Harvey Award, has been cited for his role in “reducing regional tensions in the framework of his overall world view.”
He was informed of his selection last month by Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy, who was in Moscow for the multilateral conference on Middle East regional issues.
In a letter to Technion President Ze’ev Tadmor, Gorbachev said he is “deeply grateful” for the honor, which he regards as “a manifestation of good will and as support of my activities.
“I also see in it a reflection of the new relations between the USSR, Russia and Israel, which I am convinced are of high significance for peace, security and cooperation in the Middle East,” Gorbachev wrote.
The $35,000 award was established in 1972 by the late Leo Harvey of Los Angeles to recognize major contributions to human progress in science and technology. It has been expanded to recognize contributions to the advancement of peace.
The prize committee, consisting of senior Technion faculty and members of Israel’s Academy of Science, decided this year to establish the new category to recognize Gorbachev’s “substantial contributions to peace in our region.”
The award also cites Gorbachev for opening the gates to free emigration of Soviet Jews and for “ending the era of persecution of Jewish culture.”