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Peres to honor Spielberg, Wiesel with medal

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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli President Shimon Peres will award his Presidential Medal of Distinction to Steven Spielberg, Elie Wiesel and five other recipients.

The awards were announced Thursday with a statement from Peres’ office.

Spielberg is being awarded the medal “for his contribution to cinema over the past 50 years and specifically his unique contribution to the memory of the Holocaust, to the State of Israel, to the Jewish people and Tikkun Olam,” according to the statement.

Wiesel, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, “is one of the world’s top Jewish writers and intellectuals, a Holocaust survivor who for decades has worked to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust across the world and is the leading figure in the United States of America on the subject,” the statement said.

Other recipients of this year’s award, which was instituted in 2012 by Peres, include Brig. Gen (res.) Avigdor Kahalani, a veteran of the Yom Kippur War, “for his leadership and lifelong contribution to Israel’s security;” Rabbi Elimelech Firer who has created a unique medical network for those requiring medical assistance and consultation; Dr. Zvi (Harry) Tabor, who created the National Physical Laboratory of Israel; Avi Naor, founder of Or Yarok , the association for safer driving in Israel; and a member of Israel’s security services who must remain anonymous.

Previous winners of the award include President Obama; former President Clinton; former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger; the music director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Mr. Zubin Mehta; The Rashi Foundation; and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

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