On Israel trip, Obama to get medal
February 18th, 2013
10:59 AM ET
9 years ago

On Israel trip, Obama to get medal

(CNN) - When President Barack Obama visits Israel next month, he'll be awarded the Presidential Medal of Distinction, Israeli President Shimon Peres' office announced Monday.

Obama, the first sitting U.S. president to receive the recognition, will be awarded the medal for making "a unique and significant contribution to strengthening the State of Israel and the security of its citizens," according to a release announcing the news.

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He'll receive the award at a dinner at Peres' residence in Jerusalem, slated to be attended by senior figures from Israeli public life and the Obama administration. The award is given to "private" individuals and organizations that have made "outstanding contributions to bettering the world."

Previous winners of the award include former Secretary of State Dr. Henry Kissinger, the Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, Attorney Uri Slonim, and Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz.

It's not the first time the two presidents have exchanged awards. Obama bestowed Peres the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor, last year at the White House. Twelve others also received the award in 2012.

The Medal of Distinction comes as Obama makes his first trip to Israel as president–a trip expected to receive wide attention in light of the Obama administration's at-times turbulent relationship with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Despite getting off to a rocky start with Netanyahu by pushing for a comprehensive freeze of Israeli settlements, Obama's vocal support for Netanyahu through the November crisis with Gaza and U.S. financial support for the "Iron Dome" anti-missile program, could pave the road for greater trust in the relationship, and more flexibility from Netanyahu when it comes to the disputed Iranian nuclear program.

READ MORE: What is the future of the Obama-Netanyahu relationship?

And in his State of the Union address last week, Obama said when he travels to the Middle East, he'll deliver a message signaling that the U.S. will "stand steadfast with Israel in pursuit of security and a lasting peace."

- CNN National Security Producer Jamie Crawford contributed to this report.

Filed under: Benjamin Netanyahu • Israel • President Obama
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. ChrisG

    No medals for the GOPers. Guess we know who Israel supports

    February 18, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. rs

    Well now, watch the GOP spin this into "they hate him in Israel".

    February 18, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. lottie

    meanwhile that goof ball Rubio is in Israel stirring up stuff when he should be home working with the congress to keep us from going into recession . So much for the repo rhetoric that Israel does not like president Obama.

    February 18, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  4. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    "a unique and significant contribution to strengthening the State of Israel and the security of its citizens,"
    So you're trying to tell me that all of the right wing propoganda that President Obama has thrown Israel under the bus isn't true? It may have to do something with that Iron Dome system the President provided to Israel.

    February 18, 2013 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  5. yanni

    You see warmth from the gaze of their eyes for these two rational leaders. Another deserving owner for our President, and another discredit for the far-right zealot.

    February 18, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. ST

    And what about "give a bottle a chance" ( I mean Marco Rubio) will get?? Nothing for him??? Why is he even going there??

    February 18, 2013 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  7. PJ

    Don't you just love it?

    February 18, 2013 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  8. Norma Vessels

    Another reason people should completely ignore Fox News .. from now on.

    February 18, 2013 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  9. pw

    I will never understand US-Israel relations. I comprehend them. I don't understand them.

    February 18, 2013 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  10. PaulCat

    Everybody loves Obama except the republican party / tea party people of the United States of America. They are so afraid that an educated black man can do a fine job as president. SO SAD.

    February 18, 2013 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  11. Sharon

    Yeah, Obama deserves this medal about as much as he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. Well, at least he did accomplish one thing............Obama has launched more missiles than all Nobel Peace Prize winners combined.

    February 18, 2013 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  12. PaMom

    Isreal is paying homage to the great one for political reasons only. Anyone who reads the Isreali news on the internet or Belgium news will learn the truth. Their news is not government controlled. How sad americans have become.

    February 18, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  13. Iran's last chance.

    President Obama's first term gave Iran a chance to reconcile with Israel and to show good faith in its nuclear program.
    Iran didn't accept the President's overtures for peace and reconciliation. So now, Iran will soon be held accountable; militarily and in covert actions.

    February 18, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  14. Fair is Fair

    " It may have to do something with that Iron Dome system the President provided to Israel."
    The Iron Dome system was developed by the Israelis... it wasn't "given" to them by ANYONE. Israel began the design for it in 2005, when Obama was still organizing communities. You're entitled to your own opinions, just not your own facts.

    February 18, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  15. freedom

    What?? He's been the least supportive president to Israel. And he doesn't even try to hide his animosity toward Netenyahu. This is as strange as the Nobel peace prize he received. What's going on in the world? Don't they see he's bringing America down? Oh – maybe that's why he's receiving awards from other countries.

    February 18, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  16. amadea

    You've got to be kidding? Mr. O has the worst track record of any POTUS vis-a-vis Israel. I don't get it. I simply do not get it. Check out Jerusalem Post for reaction to this story and see how real Israelis feel about Mr. O.

    February 18, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  17. ChrisG

    And the repubs and fox news just cant believe Israel supports President Obama

    February 18, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  18. Evergreen

    Does mean that Mr. Hagel's nomination can go through? Obviously the President isn't the Israel hater the GOP claimed.

    February 18, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  19. slk

    very good Pres Obama. we love you and Pres Peres' thinks you deserve this, and you do.
    Do not worry about any na-sayers.

    February 18, 2013 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  20. Malory Archer


    Isreal is paying homage to the great one for political reasons only. Anyone who reads the Isreali news on the internet or Belgium news will learn the truth.


    Oh, you mean such truth as the neoconservatives had their backsides handed to them in the election a few weeks ago as voters overwhelmingly marked their ballots for the Progressive candidates? Yeah, ya don't hear about THAT in the "librul" media.

    February 18, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  21. Ken78

    Why are American taxpayers borrowing money from China to give it to Israel? Who are American politicians representing? Americans? Or rich Israeli supporters who finance their campaigns? Wake up, folks..

    February 18, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |