Rwanda President Paul Kagame on Sunday attended the 5th Annual Champions of Jewish Values Award Gala held in New York City.
Rwanda won the Dr. Miriam & Sheldon Adelson Award for Friendship with the Jewish People.
This is his speech:
It is an honour to be with you tonight, for this very special event.
For a Rwandan, friendship with the Jewish people is entirely natural. We share experiences, which empower us to understand what justice and fairness mean.
This award is therefore deeply meaningful to us, and it is greatly appreciated. To Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, I want to say thank you.
The moral conscience of Elie Wiesel transcended his own experiences, and it was a privilege to have known him. His message was universal and timeless, and it is the reason we are here tonight.
Two points in particular, stand out.
First, he placed human dignity at the absolute centre, of everything else. We are called upon to have solidarity with those who stand up, and to fight back against those, who would deprive others of this dignity.
Second, hatred can never be justified, irrespective of whatever grievance one may hold. It may not be easy, but it is our responsibility to keep this corrosive emotion in check, and out of public affairs.
More generally, we must always endeavour to act differently, from those who adhere to ideologies of hatred.
The price of redemption is repentance, and it is sealed by forgiveness. Peace is built on mutual respect, and sustained by compassion.
As we know, acts of repentance and forgiveness among brothers and sisters, are what allowed the divided family of Jacob to reconcile, and ultimately become the nation of Israel, which endures today.
In Rwanda, we see similarities with this lesson. Every day, Rwandans are devoting themselves to the urgent task, of deepening our national unity.
Doing so, must remain a priority, for every future generation.
Efforts to deny and trivialise genocide, are on the rise around the world. Yet the fact of genocide cannot be avoided.
We must come together to confront this serious threat, and ensure that it does not take root in any society.
I would therefore like to take this opportunity, to commend Rabbi Shmuley and the World Values Network, for the initiative to establish the International Genocide Centre.
We look forward to collaborating with it, actively, in Kigali.
In the face of such persistent dangers, we cannot rely on empty words and promises, for our security and wellbeing.
We will always protect ourselves. Wherever we can, we will also contribute to protecting others, who are at risk.
To echo the famous words of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, “the main thing is to have no fear”. When you are doing the right thing, fear gives way to courage and determination.
I thank you once again, for this recognition of our friendship. And I wish you all an enjoyable evening.
President Paul Kagame’s speech in New York, May 21, 2017