On Wednesday, April 10, Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger received the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Humanitarian Award, the global human rights organization’s highest honor, during its 2019 Tribute Dinner in Beverly Hills, California. The prestigious award was given to Iger in recognition of his longstanding support for the Simon Wiesenthal Center and its educational arm, the Museum of Tolerance, and for the ongoing commitment to cultural diversity, social responsibility and philanthropy that has helped guide him as a leader in the entertainment industry.
“Diversity has always been one of our nation’s greatest strengths, and that includes diversity of thought,” said Iger, as he accepted the award, acknowledging “respectful disagreement” as a vital part of a healthy democracy. “We have to redouble our efforts to promote tolerance and, more importantly, we have to do a better job at practicing it. We need to lead by example, so the generations that follow can see the power of tolerance in action and understand that it’s our saving grace and the hope of humanity.”
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations, with more than 400,000 member families in the United States. The Center, which is dedicated to researching the Holocaust and hatred in a historic and contemporary context, is an accredited NGO at international agencies such as the United Nations, UNESCO, OSCE, Organization of American States (OAS), the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino). At the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, the Center engages hundreds of thousands of children and adults annually through interactive exhibits, special events and customized programs that are designed to provide a deeper understanding of the Holocaust while also examining all forms of prejudice and discrimination in our world today.
Iger was honored alongside Holocaust resistance hero Kurt Kleinman, Immigrant rights activist Florence Phillips and the courageous rabbi of Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, Jeffrey Myers, who saved numerous lives during the terrorist attack on the synagogue in October 2018 by sheltering those around him and placing the safety of his congregation ahead of his own. The three received the Simon Wiesenthal Center Medals of Valor, which the organization bestows upon individuals who exemplify outstanding attributes of personal heroism.
Encouraging a shared responsibility to promote inclusivity and renounce and reject hatred in all forms, Iger said, “We can take our cues from the fine work of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which never wavers in its commitment to change the world for the better and meets ally and adversary alike with strength, resolve and integrity. We can also take inspiration from the heroes here tonight, whose lives and achievements prove that each one of us has the ability and the obligation to be part of the solution.”