U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) Awarded Distinguished Public Service Award for US-Israel Relationship, Combating Terrorism

September 19, 2016

Kirk Continues to Champion Efforts to Defend Israel’s Security, Defeat Terrorism Worldwide, and Prevent a Nuclear-Armed Iran

CHICAGO – U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today was awarded the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Distinguished Public Service Award for his strong leadership in combating anti-Semitism and hate, advancing human rights and human dignity in the Middle East and throughout the world, strengthening the U.S.-Israel alliance, and confronting Iran’s nuclear and terrorism threats.

“Simon Wiesenthal, after surviving the Holocaust, dedicated his life to fighting for justice on behalf of those who suffered and died during the Shoah,” Senator Kirk said. “I am profoundly honored to be recognized by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a critical organization that continues their namesake’s mission to confront anti-Semitism and hate it all its forms. I will never stop working to strengthen America’s alliance and special relationship with Israel, to fight against anti-Semitism and for human dignity, and to ensure the survival of the Jewish state in the 21st century.”

“The Simon Wiesenthal Center is honored to bestow Senator Mark Kirk with the Distinguished Public Service Award at the 2016 Spirit of Courage Benefit recognizing the Senator’s efforts to defend Israel’s security, defeat terrorism worldwide, and prevent a nuclear-armed Iran,” Alison Pure-Slovin, Director Midwest Region of the Simon Wiesenthal Center said. “Senator Kirk continues to prove that he is a true friend to Israel and its people.”

Photo L-R: Stuart Isen, Simon Wiesenthal Center Trustee; Steve and Janice Hefter, 2016 Spirit of Courage Award recipients; Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Rabbi Meyer May, Executive Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Richard Edelman, International Leadership Award recipient; Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal; Alison Pure-Slovin, Director Midwest Region, Simon Wiesenthal Center; U.S. Senator Mark Kirk, IL, Distinguished Public Service Award Recipient

During his time in the U.S. House of Representatives, Kirk worked every day to advance the U.S.-Israel alliance and counter the threats posed by Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. As a Senator, he continues to champion efforts to defend Israel’s security, defeat terrorists worldwide, and prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

In February 2016, Senator Kirk, co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Human Rights Caucus, introduced the Combating BDS Act of 2016 (S. 2531) with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). Now supported by 45 Senators, Kirk’s bipartisan legislation would authorize state and local governments to divest from any company engaged in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) conduct targeting Israel and Israeli-controlled territories. In June 2016, he succeeded in adding the anti-BDS measure to the pending Senate appropriations bill to fund the State Department and foreign operations that has been sent to the Senate floor.

Senator Kirk is a longtime supporter of U.S.-Israel cooperative missile defense programs. Last year, he worked across the aisle to get Congress to approve $487.6 million in funding for key Israeli missile defense systems, which is more than three times than the $157.8 million initially requested by the Administration. This year, he is leading congressional efforts to fully fund U.S.-Israel missile defense programs at $601 million.

Senator Kirk co-authored two U.S. laws to impose crippling economic and financial sanctions against Iran that were unanimously approved the Senate in December 2011 and November 2012, respectively. In 2015, Congress approved an annual funding law that included Kirk-authored language to require the Administration to track how much sanction relief money Iran diverts for supporting Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorists, and for threatening the security of the United States and Israel.

Kirk recently co-authored a new bill with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) to prohibit the federal government from paying ransom, and to stop payments from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Judgment Fund to Iran until Iranian Government pays the money that it owes American victims of Iranian terrorism under U.S. court judgments — some $55.6 billion, according to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) estimate.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center is an international Jewish human rights organization that confronts anti-Semitism, hate, and terrorism, promotes human rights and dignity, stands with Israel, defends the safety of Jews worldwide, and teaches the lessons of the Holocaust for future generations. The SWC has a constituency of over 400,000 families, and maintains offices in the U.S., Toronto, Jerusalem, Paris, and Buenos Aires.

Other Recipients of 2016 Simon Wiesenthal Awards:
• Community Leadership Award Richard Edelman, President & CEO of Edelman, communications marketing firm
• Spirit of Courage Award – Steve & Janice Hefter, Upstanding leaders of Chicago’s Jewish community and proud champions of Israel