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Chirac honours Professor Ady Steg

I am enclosing a translation from the French of the speech of the President of France, Monsieur Jacques Chirac and the reply by Professor Ady Steg to this remarkable speech which I think should be considered for your journal.

Professor Steg and myself are joint Chairmen of The Consultative Council of Jewish Organisations which is one of the oldest non-Governmental organisations at the UN. It is in this capacity that I have forwarded the speeches to you, although of course he is also the President of the Alliance Israelite Universelle.

The occasion of which a photograph is enclosed was the Award of the Insignia of Grand Officer of the Legion d’Honneur to Professor Ady Steg at the Palais de l’Elysee in France.


Clemens N Nathan



I shall simply state this morning that as a teaching professor you held the chair of Urology at the Cochin Hospital, that through your work, your publications and books you are recognised as an authority throughout the world, and that you have won numerous awards and distinctions in France and elsewhere in Europe. The Hebrew University in Jerusalem awarded you an honorary doctorate, as did the University of Athens last year, and this may well be followed by one from Rome, in recognition of your outstanding achievements. As a "senior administrator" you have acquired authority and fame. As a doctor of medicine you have a down-to-earth simplicity.

It is just as much for the distance you have travelled as for the point that you have reached that I should like to congratulate you, first and foremost.

Your whole life has been lived beneath the sign of commitment.

You committed yourself to the community. You were Vice-Chairman of the World Union of Jewish Students and President of the Alliance Israélite Universelle. This last responsibility is probably the one that matches your personality the best, given your desire to pass on your knowledge and to study, as well as a sense of dialogue, openness to others, and respect for others.

It is the commitment of the grown man, a Frenchman and a Jew, a Jew and a Frenchman, who wanted to reconstruct, revive and rebuild that which the Shoah tried to destroy. The message is there. You carry with you the aspirations of a multi-cultural citizenry for whom love of France and love of Israel, concern for Israel are inseparable.

Respect signifies the recognition by all of the legitimacy of the State of Israel, of its inalienable right to safe and recognised borders, whilst naturally respecting the other peoples in the region. Everyone knows there can be no solution other than peace.

Dear Ady Steg, it is for the whole of your life’s journey, in your professional, personal, moral and spiritual capacity, travelled in the greatest harmony with your lady wife, who has had the same goals and share everything with you, and to whom I present my affectionate homage, that today France offers you its highest accolade. I shall be awarding it to a teacher, a chairman and a public figure, but just as much to the little seven year old boy who came to France with a wide-open heart.


It is with a heart full of gratitude that I come, Mr President, to express to you my deepest thanks for the eminent distinction of the accolade that you have awarded me at this wonderful ceremony to which you had the finesse to invite such a huge crowd of my friends.

Thanks to you and through your voice, France recognised its responsibility for the role played by the Vichy Government in the anti-semitic persecution under the Occupation. You considered that you had a moral duty in this regard. "Recognising the wrongs of the past", you declared. "and the wrongs committed by the State, concealing nothing of the blackest hours of our history".

If I dared, I would abrogate to myself the power of the Chief Rabbi of France, who has the right to bless the country, something which, in fact, all our rabbis do every Saturday morning in synagogue, reciting the prayer that begins with:

- May France live happily and prosperously, may it be strong and great among the nations".


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