June 20, 2019, Jerusalem – Tonight, the Laureate of the 2019 Genesis Prize Robert Kraft was honored at a gala ceremony in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Genesis Prize Foundation Chairman Stan Polovets bestowed the award on Kraft in front of an audience of 600 Israeli and international dignitaries.
The $1 million Genesis Prize, dubbed "the Jewish Nobel" by Time Magazine, honors extraordinary individuals for outstanding professional achievement, contribution to humanity, and commitment to Jewish values. Previous honorees include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg; philanthropist and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; actor, producer and peace activist Michael Douglas; and "Fiddler to the world" maestro Itzhak Perlman.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "I am delighted to welcome Robert Kraft to the august family of Genesis Prize Laureates. This prestigious award honors Robert's generous life-long philanthropy, his commitment to the Jewish people, and his love for Israel. It also recognizes his principled stand against anti-Semitism and efforts by our enemies to undermine the State of Israel through BDS and other similar campaigns. Israel does not have a more loyal friend than Robert Kraft."
Kraft previously announced he would forgo the $1 million monetary award so that the funds could be granted to initiatives combating anti-Semitism, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS), and other efforts to delegitimize Israel. This is in line with the tradition established by previous Genesis Prize Laureates, who have "re-gifted" their awards to philanthropic causes they support.
Kraft used his acceptance speech to announce the establishment of a foundation dedicated to combating anti-Semitism. Kraft has already raised over $30 million at its launch by seeding the foundation with a $20 million personal donation and two $5 million gifts, including one by Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich. Kraft invited other philanthropists to join him in making contributions to fund this foundation to fight anti-Semitism.
"The new foundation I am announcing tonight is a platform to galvanize the global fight against anti-Semitism, uniting all people of good conscience around this goal," said Robert Kraft. "My vision is to work to end the violence against Jewish communities. To counter the normalization of anti-Semitic narratives that question Israel's right to exist, disguised as part of legitimate debate on campuses and in the media. To educate, to inform, and to heal inter-communal relations. In combating the scourge of anti-Semitism, my solemn ambition is to counter all forms of intolerance in the spirit of the ancient Jewish value of tikkun olam – to heal and repair the world."
"From Pittsburgh to Paris, from San Diego to Berlin, Jewish communities have been under attack," said Stan Polovets. "We can no longer be complacent or pretend these are isolated incidents. Make no mistake; the wave of anti-Semitism is rising once again. Tonight, we stand together with Robert Kraft in our determination to turn back this tide of darkness and to channel significant human and financial resources toward this goal."