The Greek-American community has honored American Jewish Committee with its prestigious Frizis Award. “AJC is an extraordinary organization,” said Andrew Manatos, President of the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes. He presented the award at the 28th Annual Cyprus and Hellenic Leadership Conference.
The annual award, named after a World War II Greek Jewish war hero, is bestowed upon a prominent member of the American Jewish community who has made significant contributions to Hellenic issues. Colonel Moredchai Frizis was the first high-ranking Greek military officer to die in battle against Axis forces in December 1940.
“I am privileged to accept this high honor from our friends in America’s Cypriot and Hellenic leadership. The Frizis Award speaks to the eternal bond between sister communities and nations,” said Jason Isaacson, AJC’s director of Government and International Affairs, who accepted the award on behalf of the premier global Jewish advocacy organization.
“AJC is proud of the contributions we have made over the years to Greek-Jewish dialogue and understanding in our own country,” said Isaacson. “The bonds of friendship and solidarity between our sister ethnic communities over the last century or so of European immigration are so natural as to be almost unremarkable. And on policy matters of importance to both of our communities – relating to religious discrimination here or in countries in the region, the settling of bitter regional conflicts, and the assurance of stability and the protection of vital U.S. interests in the Eastern Mediterranean – AJC has been privileged to be your partner.”
The award contains soil from Greece, the U.S. and Israel and states “for commitment to the defense of the principles for which the United States, Israel and Hellenism stand. From this hallowed earth have come these great principles.”
Isaacson spoke of those shared principles in reviewing AJC’s engagement, as an American non-governmental organization, over the years with Cyprus and Greece, nurturing closer ties with the U.S. as well as with Israel.
“AJC’s commitment to the Greek-American alliance, to a healthy and secure Greece at peace with its neighbors, to a just resolution of the Cyprus problem –by which I mean a free and united Cyprus, and to partnership with our Greek- and Cypriot-American neighbors in pursuit of a range of common objectives, shared values and humanitarian concerns is a matter of record – and an important element of our international, inter-religious and inter-ethnic agenda,” said Isaacson.
“There is a natural logic – there are natural synergies and sympathies – in the deepening interconnections of Greece, Cyprus and Israel. The mutual discovery and elaboration of these synergies is a dramatically positive development for these countries and their peoples, and for peace and stability in a volatile region,” said Isaacson. “We are committed to taking whatever constructive steps we can to inform our constituency of this new Eastern Mediterranean alliance, this new Eastern Mediterranean reality – and to assure the three countries the maximum opportunity to reap its potential benefits.”
AJC leaders regularly visit Cyprus and Greece. Last month, Cypriot Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis and Greek Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos addressed the annual AJC Global Forum
Honorary AJC President Maynard Wishner was the first recipient of the Frizis Award, in 1993. Wishner, who lived in Chicago and was a beloved figure in the Greek and Jewish communities, passed away last year.