In the closing hour of its virtual national conference Monday, the pro-Israel, pro-peace advocacy organization J Street presented its Tzedek v’Shalom, or Justice and Peace Award to former President Jimmy Carter. Accepting on behalf of the 96-year-old Carter was Paige Alexander, CEO of The Carter Center, based in Atlanta.
In presenting the award, J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami spoke of the role of the U.S. in pursuing peace in the Middle East. “Perhaps no figure in recent American history deserves a more prominent place than former President Jimmy Carter,” Ben-Ami stated.
Carter brokered the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt at Camp David in September 1978, bringing “nearly half a century of peace to two countries that experienced decades of war,” Ben-Ami said. Carter “has been a courageous and principled voice for human rights and democracy around the world.”
Ben-Ami acknowledged that Carter “may have ruffled feathers in the Jewish community, but they were always grounded in a sincere desire” for peace.
J Street’s Tzedek v’Shalom award goes to “distinguished individuals who have made critical contributions in their lives to the cause of peace for Israelis, Palestinians and the wider Middle East,” according to the organization’s announcement of the award. Previous recipients of the award include Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), philanthropists Stephen and Pilar Crespi Robert, and J Street’s Chair Emeritus Morton Halperin.
Ben-Ami called Carter “one of my political heroes.” In Carter’s acceptance speech read by Alexander, he noted that Ben-Ami volunteered for his presidential campaign as a teenager.
The Camp David agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was featured prominently in a short video about the 39th president shown during the conference. Carter called the agreement an “achievement no one thought possible.” Giving credit to Carter who brought the group together in the second year of his presidency, Begin joked in the video that instead of calling it the Camp David conference, it should have been called “the Jimmy Carter conference.”
In his prepared remarks presented by Alexander, Carter said that “helping to broker the Camp David Accords was one of the proudest moments of my presidency.”
Carter received the award at the end of the J Street conference, about the same time as the news of the death of Carter’s vice president, Walter Mondale, was announced.
Other Atlantans who spoke during the conference were Georgia’s two senators, Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock.
- Jan Jaben-Eilon
- Camp David
- President Jimmy Carter
- J Street
- The Carter Center
- Paige Alexander
- Justice and Peace Award
- Tzedek v’Shalom
- Jeremy Ben Ami
- Rep. Barbara Lee
- Stephen and Pilar Crespi Robert
- Morton Halperin
- Menachem Begin
- Anwar Sadat
- Walter Mondale
- John Ossoff
- Raphael Warnock