In introducing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the Appeal of Conscience Foundation awards dinner, Henry Kissinger made note of his own public service as National Security Advisor in the White House and Secretary of State in the 1970s.
“The only reason I mention it,” he said, “is because never before and never since has the White House and the State Department been as amicable as it was then.”
Harper declined an invitation to address the annual General Assembly of the United Nations. Instead he appeared at the Waldorf Astoria on Sept. 27to accept the Appeal of Conscience World Statesman Award.
Rabbi Arthur Schneier, founding president of the foundation, described him as “more than prime minister—he’s a mensch.”
Harper labeled the government of Iran “a clear and present danger” for a combination of reasons: “its appalling record of human rights abuse, its active assistance to the brutal regime in Syria, its undeniable support of terrorist entities, its determined pursuit of nuclear weapons” as well as routine threats to the existence of Israel, anti-Semitism and constant denials of the Holocaust.
“It is important to state,” Harper said, “that whatever Israel’s shortcomings, neither its existence nor its policies are responsible for the pathologies in that part of the world.
“We are also mindful of the lesson of history: that those who single out the Jewish people as a target of racial and religious bigotry will inevitable be a threat to all of us.”
He added, “When confronted with evil, we take strong principled positions in our dealings, whether popular or not. I believe that the appeal of our conscience requires us to speak out against what the Iranian regime stands for.”
Three weeks earlier Canada had cut diplomatic ties with Iran.
Stephen Schwarzman, chairman/CEO of the Blackstone Group private equity firm, presented an Appeal of Conscience Award to Vikram Pandit, CEO of Citigroup.
Peter Peterson, former secretary of commerce and co-chairman of the Blackstone Group, presented the Appeal of Conscience Award to Virginia M. Rometty, chairman/president/CEO of IBM.
“We’re both graduates of Northwestern University,” Peterson said. “Ginny’s degree was in engineering and computer science. Mine was in retailing and as a result I can’t even do email.”
Rometty countered: “Peter, with all your accomplishments for the world, I think I should go back and a get a retailing degree.”