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Ronald Lauder honored in Paris by French President

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Renowned Jewish philanthropist Ronald Lauder receives France's highest honor from President Francois tHollande

Renowned Jewish philanthropist Ronald Lauder receives France's highest honor from President Francois tHollandeOn Wednesday, February 6, French President Francois Hollande honored World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder with the order of officer of the Legion of Honor, calling him “a man of peace, of culture and of commitment,” according to a report on the European Jewish Press web site.

“Since 2007, you have served as World Jewish Congress president, heading an organization that represents Jewish communities in 100 countries. You travel the world, and you convey the message of tolerance and peace. You have the ear of Jewish communities who are in need of support, leadership and values in a world of menaces, a world where old hatreds are resurfacing that we thought had disappeared long ago,” Hollande said in his address during a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris.

Lauder is in the French capital at the head of a delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, of which he is a past president. After his visit to France, the delegation will travel to Israel for the annual Leadership Mission.

The French President paid homage to Lauder “the businessman who has developed with talent an enterprise that is today a world leader” (Estee Lauder) and also to the art collector Lauder who the president said owned “the most beautiful modern art collection ever assembled by an individual.”

“With you, France honors a man of peace, of culture and of commitment. The cause you serve is to preserve the memory in order to build the future,” Hollande said.

The ceremony was also attended by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls and several French government officials.

Lauder also held talks with President Hollande during which he raised issues of concern to Jewish communities, notably the Iranian threat.

The French president told Lauder that Iran was not the problem of Israel alone but of the whole world.

The WJC leader called on France to support an initiative to put Hezbollah on the European Union’s list of terrorist organizations, following the evidence presented by Bulgaria on Tuesday that the Lebanese Shiite movement was involved in the Burgas bombing of a bus carrying Israeli tourists in July 2012.

France has so far appeared to resist such move to blacklist Hezbollah because of its historic ties with Lebanon, its former colony.

In his response, Hollande reportedly said his country would study the evidence assembled by the Bulgarian investigators before making any decision.

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