WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), U.S. Representative Chris Stewart (R-UT), and U.S. Representative Grace Meng (D-NY), announced today that they would be introducing a bi-partisan and bi-cameral bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by U.S. Congress, to the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. As the centennial of Sadat’s birth approaches in 2018, he will be honored with the highest civilian decoration U.S. Congress can award for his courageous and steadfast contributions to the history of peace in the Middle East.
President Sadat was essential to establishing lasting peace between Israel and Egypt by expunging previous hostilities toward Israel and becoming the first Arab leader to officially recognize Israel as a nation-state. In a series of meetings arranged by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and held at Camp David, Sadat and former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin negotiated the peace treaty that came to be known as the Camp David Accords. Before commencing negotiations, Sadat courageously traveled to Israel and in his address to the Knesset said, “Together we might build a durable peace based on justice, to avoid the shedding of one single drop of blood from an Arab or an Israeli. It is for this reason that I have proclaimed my readiness to go to the farthest corner of the world.”
“President Sadat was the first Arab leader to recognize Israel. He displayed courage and vision when he negotiated the Peace Treaty, fundamentally changing the course of history in the Middle East for the better,” said Senator Ben Cardin, the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Awarding him the Congressional Gold Medal honors this legacy and underscores the enduring commitment of the United States to upholding the Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel.”
“Sadat took countless personal risks to achieve a society grounded in peace and diplomacy – an endeavor that ultimately cost him is life,” explained Sen. Orrin Hatch. “Thus, awarding Sadat with the Congressional Gold Medal celebrates and gives homage to Sadat’s courageous, remarkable, and enduring imprint on history.”
“Sadat was a once-in-a-generation leader,” said Rep. Chris Stewart. “He demonstrated a moral and political courage that is rare among world leaders, and which transformed the course of history. It’s wholly appropriate that we recognize that courage with the Congressional Gold Medal.
“Anwar Sadat was an extraordinary leader, visionary and peacemaker who as President of Egypt became the first Arab leader to visit and recognize Israel,” said U.S. Rep. Grace Meng. “Awarding him with the Congressional Gold Medal would be an outstanding way to honor the enduring legacy he left behind, and pay tribute to his courage, and the contributions he made to peace in the Middle East. I’m proud to help introduce this bill, and I urge the House and Senate to pass it.”
“What is most remarkable about Sadat’s diplomacy is the dramatic first step he took toward peace by visiting Israel before negotiations commenced. This symbolic action generated goodwill and significantly contributed to the success of the peace treaty,” said Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group, who has helped to coordinate the effort to award Anwar Sadat the Congressional Gold Medal in conjunction with Project Legacy, which recognizes individuals whose leadership has advanced peace, human rights, democracy and freedom.