Washington – Monday, November 20 marked the 40th anniversary of late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s shocking yet inspiring visit to Israel. Hosted by Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, he addressed the Knesset in Jerusalem, declaring “I decided to come to you with an open mind and an open heart and with a conscious determination so that we might establish permanent peace based on justice.”
It was an unprecedented move for an Arab leader to propose a permanent peace treaty with Israel after decades of conflict. Sadat’s visit was considered very courageous given the virulent opposition he faced at the time from the Arab world.
His speech at the Knesset marked an important landmark in the long journey to peace between Israel and Egypt.
Despite the outrage from Egypt’s regional allies, Sadat continued to pursue peace with Begin, and in 1978 the two leaders met again in the United States, where they negotiated a historic agreement with at Camp David.
Indeed, the Camp David Accords, signed in September 1978, laid the groundwork for a permanent peace agreement between Egypt and Israel after three decades of hostilities. The final peace agreement-the first between Israel and one of its Arab neighbors-was signed in March 1979. The treaty ended the state of war between the two countries and provided for the establishment of full diplomatic and commercial relations.
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of Sadat’s visit, Senators Orrin Hatch and Ben Cardin along with Representatives Chris Stewart along with Grace Meng introduced legislation to award the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat with a Congressional Gold Medal and hosted a Luncheon which featured the participation of Egypt’s Ambassador to the United States H.E. Yasser Reda who shared his emotions how his father a general in the Egyptian Armed forces embraced peace with Israel some 40 years ago.
“A two- thirds supermajority is necessary for passage of a Congressional Gold Medal, to mark this important milestone. I am proud to announce on behalf of the Anwar Sadat Congressional Gold Medal Committee established to spearhead the advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill, that the legislation has garnered over 160 House and 33 Senator co-sponsors-the half-way point” said Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Ben Cardin presented an award to the CEO of Delta Galil, Isaac Dabah, in memory of Mr. Dov Lautman, founder of Delta Galil.
Dov Lautman’s visionary approach to Middle East peace influenced his decision to invest in Egypt after the signing of the peace treaty. Furthermore, Mr. Dabah announced that Delta Galil is in the final stages of opening a fourth plant declared “It is clear to me, as an American, that the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt serve the national security interests of the United States and is a beacon of hope for future peace in the Middle East”.
Bestowing the Congressional Gold Medal upon Anwar Sadat 40 years after the peace treaty was signed would send a clear message of hope and encourage every leader in the region to pursue true and lasting peace”.
“In honoring President Sadat, we honor a man who truly embodied the statesmanship and fortitude necessary to bring peace to the Middle East virtues that are as important today as they were then” said Rabbi Elie Abadie, Jack Avital, Andrew Friedman, Leon Goldenberg, Sol Goldner, Gil Kapen, Harvey & Gloria Kaylie, Dr. David Moskovits, Aubrey Sharfman, Joseph B. Stamm, Ambassador H. Russell Taub, Stanley Treitel who co-chair the Sadat Congressional Gold Medal Committee.
Sadat and Begin were jointly awarded the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts. However, Sadat’s peace efforts were not universally accepted in the Arab world, and he was assassinated on October 6, 1981, by Muslim extremists in Cairo. Despite Sadat’s death, the peace process has flourished to this very day.