TAU awards UN chief highest honor
Tel Aviv University has awarded outgoing Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon its highest honor, the George S. Wise Medal, "in recognition of his long and distinguished career as an international diplomat and statesman; his respected leadership of the United Nations over the past nine years, during which time he championed major global issues and advanced important reforms; his courageous condemnation of anti-Semitism, racism, and terrorism in all their forms; and his committed endeavors to facilitate peaceful solutions to ongoing humanitarian and geopolitical crises throughout the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict."
TAU President Prof. Joseph Klafter opened the June 27, 2016, ceremony in TAU's Jaglom Auditorium by welcoming the Secretary-General and accompanying UN delegates, including Danny Danon, Israel's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and TAU Rector Prof. Yaron Oz.
"Mr. Secretary-General, you have been a tenacious supporter of global bridge-building," Prof. Klafter said. "You have spoken up for the things that matter — freedom, equality, and education. You have spoken against censorship and extremism. We are proud and privileged to honor you today with the George S. Wise Medal."
"I am delighted to visit TAU, and deeply honored to receive the George S. Wise Medal from this prestigious academic forum," Ban responded. "This recognition symbolizes common goals of our institutions: progress, prosperity, and peace. I accept it in the name of all the women and men of the UN working to advance peace, development, and human rights around the world and around the clock."
"Start up peace, understanding, and reconciliation," UN leader says
"The biggest war being waged today does not involve guns or tanks or fighter jets," Ban continued. "The biggest confrontation is the battle for minds. Do not allow the extremists on either side to further fuel the conflict. Palestinians and Israeli leaders must stand firm against terror, violence, and incitement. We need innovative thinking and action to tear down the walls of mistrust. I urge the Start-up Nation to help us all start up peace, start up understanding, start up reconciliation for a better world.
"Universities are a place of dreams, and there is nothing greater or nobler than the dream of peace. Let us work for it together for the future of Israelis and Palestinians and your shared destiny on this shared land and our shared planet," Ban concluded. Click for video of full speech.
TAU's contributions to global development showcased
Following Ban's speech, the audience was welcomed to The Innovation and Research Symposium, showcasing the contributions of Israel and TAU to the global sustainable development agenda. Speakers discussed TAU's breakthrough innovations in food safety, wastewater technology, cancer therapeutics, and Israel's shift to the "cyber market."
"TAU is particularly poised to contribute to the 2030 Development Agenda launched by the UN last year," Prof. Klafter said. "We have research, teaching, and outreach programs in all the 17 Sustainable Development Goals aimed at achieving a vastly improved world. Our newly launched Boris Mints Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions to Global Challenges is targeting energy, food security, and social inequality. And through our Porter School of Environmental Studies, Steinhardt Museum of Natural History, and other units, TAU operates the largest and most comprehensive center for environmental and biodiversity studies at any university anywhere."
This article was originally published by AFTAU.