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In recent years, The City College of New York's Engineers Without Borders-USA Student Chapter has spent summers and winter breaks working on water distribution and sanitation projects in rural Honduras. This winter, the chapter will extend its goodwill closer to home and help build a green and sustainable community center on a reservation.

Five members of the chapter are headed to the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota to spend a week, January 20-27, helping develop a community center for the Sicangu Lakota and Rosebud Sioux tribes. The center will be part of the larger scale Keya Wakpala Waíçageyapi (Turtle Creek Development) venture --a multi-phased project on over 600 acres of land.

The project's goal is to provide a central location for the community to hold ceremonies and gatherings. The team traveling to South Dakota is comprised of the following:

Frank Poma, project manager (junior, civil engineering);
Alexander Swyst, secretary (junior, mechanical engineering);
Darlenis Ventura, assistant project manager (junior, civil engineering);
Jillian Panagakos (junior, environmental engineering);
Nadia Makara, advisor (Class of 2014, environmental engineering).

Their project will feature construction that is based on principles of resilient green design. The community requested that local labor and materials be incorporated into the design process whenever possible to ensure that it is both culturally relevant as well as sustainable.

The 30-member chapter's previous work has focused mainly on improving water distribution and sanitation in the Honduran communities of La Nueva Suiza, Las Chicas and Milla Tres. #

DeanVisitNBabylon2.jpgOn December 8, the students at Parliament Place had a special treat.

Children's author Michael Sampson, who is also Dean of the School of Education at St. John's University, visited the school.  He met with the children to discuss the process authors use to write books, and to read aloud some of the books he has written such as Chicka Chicka 1- 2-3.  Dr. Sampson personally autographed the copies of the books the children purchased.  He was very impressed by the questions the students asked and their responses to his questions.

President Obama's plan for free tuition at community colleges sends a powerful signal of the importance of access to a quality education and of these vital front-line higher education institutions to America's future. We look forward to reviewing the details of the plan and working closely with the White House, United States Congress and leaders in New York in order to assess the likely impact on CUNY's 100,000 degree-seeking students in attendance at our seven community colleges and prospective applicants.

We are particularly encouraged by the President's recognition of CUNY's Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) as a national model of effectiveness and successful student outcomes. In 2014, ASAP produced a three year graduation rate of 57%, over triple the rate of urban community colleges nation-wide. Overall the graduation rate since the program's inception has been over 50%.

We join with President Obama in offering ASAP as a national model to be expanded both here in New York and throughout the nation. Here at CUNY, more than seven out of ten full-time community college students attend tuition-free due to federal and state financial aid. We will be looking closely at the remaining costs in order to determine how the President's plan might assist greater numbers of students to achieve student success.

by Allen Frances, M.D.

In many previous blogs, I have bemoaned the shameful state of psychiatric care and housing for people with severe mental illness.

My conclusion was that the United States now is the worst place and worst time ever to have a severe mental illness. Hundreds of thousands of the severely ill languish inappropriately in prisons. Additional hundreds of thousands are homeless on the street. 

But it gets worse. Having a severe mental illness also means that you will probably die very young. I have asked Dr Peter Weiden to explain why and to suggest what we should do about it. He is Professor of Psychiatry at University of Illinois Medical Center and has spent his professional career working on improving outcomes and reducing side effects and complications for people with serious mental illness.

Dr Weiden writes: "In the general population, our life expectancy in the United States is approximately 80 years (77.4 years for men, and 82.2 years for women). This is a stunning improvement in life expectancy since back in the 1970's when life expectancies were a full decade shorter, around 70 years. The rapid and profound decrease in smoking is probably the single most important factor.

Certain groups do not share this good fortune. For example, black Americans live about 5 fewer years than whites. But one group suffers by far the most- with an average of 20 years of reduced life, in the ballpark of the life expectancy in Rwanda or Afghanistan.

Who is dying so young? You might think it would be people with HIV or severe asthma or some other serious medical condition. But it is not. As you have guessed by now, the group in question are those with a diagnosis of serious mental illness-schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or treatment resistant depression.

It has been known for many years that individuals with serious mental illness were more likely to have medical problems like diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease, but most of the mortality concern was on suicide prevention and other kinds of injuries that come from poorly controlled psychiatric symptoms.

The wake up call came in 2006 when a groundbreaking study of mortality statistics showed that individuals with severe mental illness were dying between 13 and 31years early, averaging to over 20 years of life lost relative to age matched general populations. Their causes of death were actually very similar to the causes of death in the general population, only happening on average about 20 years earlier.

While suicide and accidental deaths are still much more likely to happen in the severely mentally ill relative to general population, these are still relatively uncommon, whereas there is a doubling or tripling of the mortality from heart disease, diabetes, respiratory ailments, and cancer. People mostly die in their 50s of the same problems that kill off the rest of us 20 years later.

Many reasons conspire to create this shameful statistic. People with severe mental illness are less likely to take good care of themselves, more likely to smoke heavily and have sedentary lifestyles, and have more difficulty than most negotiating the complicated medical care system to go for appointments and follow-up care. And primary care physicians are not well trained or compensated for the additional complexities involved in diagnosing or treating medical problems in the severely ill.

A word about medications for mental illness, and their role in mortality. It is a complicated question because medications can be very effective in controlling psychiatric symptoms so that patients are better able to reduce medical risks and actively participate in medical care. On the other hand, some medications cause significant weight gain and dyslipidemia (increase in triglycerides and cholesterol) which can make the already bad situation worse. This dilemma is better now that there are effective medications that do not often cause weight gain or elevated lipids. Though this remains a vexing challenge for mental health professionals, the major problem seems to be the greater number of medical risk factors among persons with mental illness and their lack of access to high quality medical care.

A growing research literature shows that bringing the medical doctor to the psychiatric patient works much better than trying to bring the patient to regular medical services. The merging of primary psychiatric care with primary medical care is urgently needed.

Is this too much to ask? When we get surgery we expect other doctors to be available. The surgeon will be surrounded by a team including radiologists, anesthetists, and if there are heart problems a cardiologist. Having an appropriate medical team working together is usually not available for those who have psychiatric conditions.

Which throws the basic inequality into stark relief. Society would not tolerate 20 years of lost life expectancy for other groups, even those that also suffer discrimination like Latino or blacks or gays. If this were HIV or breast cancer or multiple sclerosis, we would not tolerate the total fragmentation of healthcare as we do with mental illness.

We are complacent because the lives of those with severe mental illness do not matter to us. Unless the person dying young is your parent or your child, or your brother."

Thanks so much, Peter, for this glum, but much needed assessment. Until recently, I have assumed that the reduced life expectancy in the severely ill was attributable to the big four of lousy medical care, heavy smoking, sedentary lifestyle, and antipsychotic use. To my great surprise, a large and well conducted study recently found the lowest mortality in the severely ill who had received low to moderate doses as compared to those who took no medicine or high doses. This is just one study and can be interpreted in different ways, but it does suggest that antipsychotics are less the culprit in early death than I had imagined.

Which focuses attention even more on lousy medical care, and smoking. Clearly, we must improve not just the current totally inadequate psychiatric care and housing provided for the severely ill, we must also follow Dr Weiden's suggestion that medical care be an essential part of the package- along with smoking cessation and exercise.

Will anything change? The (non)treatment of severe mental illness in the US is our national shame. This is voiceless constituency in the US that very few people seem to care about. It is different in much of Europe where enlightened policies and adequate funding for the severely ill lead to decent lives in the community and better healthcare.

There is media and political outcry when there is poor health care for the military, or children, or women or minorities. everyone went crazy when one person died of Ebola. We should be deeply ashamed of ourselves for neglecting the severely ill- creating a system that imprisons them, renders them homeless, and allows them to die so young. We need a Charles Dickens to illustrate their plight and a new Pinel to free them of their chains. Two centuries ago, the age of enlightenment banished the idea that mental illness was caused by witchcraft or possession. As Harry Stack Sullivan put it- people with schizophrenia were more simply human than otherwise. Its long past time that we remembered this and acted accordingly. #

The China Institute Newsletter

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Gallery:

Mao's Golden Mangoes and the Cultural Revolution ~ Through April 26, 2015

Around half a century ago during the Cultural Revolution (1966 - 1976), China was in a political "mango-fever." In 1968, after receiving a gift of mangoes from the visiting Pakistani foreign minister, Mao Zedong sent the fruit to the "Worker-Peasant Mao Zedong Thought Propaganda Teams." It coincided with a turning point in the Cultural Revolution from student-leading to worker-peasant-leading. Mangoes, an unfamiliar fruit at that time in China, became a temporary political symbol of Chairman Mao's benevolence and love for the people. Illustrations and photos of mangoes appeared in publications, paintings, posters and badges, as well as on everyday objects such as mirrors, quilt covers and enamelware. Wax mango models were displayed in glass boxes to express respect for Mao, along with circumstances of the gift printed in red on the cases. By showcasing over 80 mango-related objects, Mao's Golden Mangoes and the Cultural Revolution will explore the interaction of material culture and politics during this period. This exhibition is organized by the Museum Rietberg Zürich and is curated by Alfreda Murck and Alexandra von Przychowski. The China Institute Gallery showing of the exhibition has been expanded to include loans from the Collection of Judy Manton and from an Anonymous Private Collector.

Art and Chinese New Year Lecture and Festive Reception ~ February 27, 2015

Join us for this special 2nd annual lecture and festive reception in celebration of Chinese New Year. In honor of the Year of the Ram, Dr. Jerome Silbergeld will lecture about this animal's role in Chinese art and history. The Chinese twelve calendrical animals system 生肖dates back at least to the Qin dynasty, complemented by the twenty-eight figures of the lunar "mansions" in Chinese astrology 二十八星宿and the four directional animals 四神. This year's animal, the yang 羊, is unique among the twelve in being not one animal but two: the sheep and the goat, two animals that could hardly be more different from each other. This presentation will look at the calendrical system, particularly the two yang and the various roles that they have placed in Chinese cultural and historical lore.

Education

For PreK-12 Students:

Chinese for Children Spring 2015 ~ Early bird Discount

Learn Chinese in a fun and immersive environment! With classes starting the week of January 26th, Spring 2015 registration is open and we are accepting NEW students! We are introducing new textbooks to further strengthen our curriculum and to help our students achieve high proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Sign up before January 10th, and have the $50 registration fee waived! 5% discount for siblings. To register, please contact Valerie Ong at vong@chinainstitute.org or 212-744-8181, ext. 110.

Open House for Parents & Children ~ January 10, 2015

On January 10th, the Children & Youth Program will be hosting a Spring Open House for parents and students. Please join us at China Institute to learn about our future curriculum and teaching philosophy and to find out about our selection of textbooks and teaching materials. We will also be holding demo language classes and will be showing a classical Chinese short film for children. Please feel free to invite friends to this event. To RSVP, please contact children@chinainstitute.org or 212-744-8181, ext. 110.

Children's Outreach Workshops

China Institute's We All Live in the Forbidden City program offers a series of children's workshops that can be brought to schools, museums, and libraries near you. Led by the program's experienced teachers, students will learn about Chinese culture through creative activities, interactive storytelling, animations, and group discussions. The first two workshops in the series teach children about the life and responsibilities of an emperor, and how nature was the inspiration behind the architecture of the Forbidden City. Please contact us if you are interested in bringing these workshops to your community.

For Adults:

Adult Chinese Language & Studio Classes ~ Winter 2015

Classes start the week of January 12th. Register now to save your spot!

We have added NEW courses to the Adult Language Group Classes. China Institute offers a wide range of Chinese language classes for students at every proficiency level and with different expectations or goals.

We are pleased to announce the following NEW course offerings in Winter 2015:

[NEW] Chinese for Heritage Learners (Intermediate)

[NEW] Reading Chinese Media Texts (Newspaper and Internet)

[NEW] Lunch-Hour Conversation (High Beginner)

We continue to offer our very popular FREE one-on-one tutoring sessions to registered students while group classes are in session. Each tutoring session is a 45-minute one-on-one segment that students sign up for on a first come first served basis. The tutoring office hours are available on Monday through Thursday from 10:30am-12:45pm and 5:30-7:45pm.

In the adult studio program, we continue to offer our long-standing and well-received art and culture courses, including Chinese calligraphy, brush painting and Taijiquan.

Short Course - A Course on the Uniqueness of Chinese (3-Sessions) ~ Starts February 17, 2015

Given by lecturer Ben Wang, this course will explore the musicality of the language and the artistic and ingenious features of the written characters as living images of the Chinese culture. An in-depth understanding of Chinese written characters, their sounds, and the tonal system enables one to grasp the structure of the Chinese language.

Special Events

Chinese New Year Celebration ~ February 20, 2015

Please join us for our annual festive Chinese New Year's celebration on Friday, February 20, 2015 at Cipriani 42nd Street.

Renwen Society

Lecture: The Last Giant in Chinese Poetry, Calligraphy and Painting ~ January 10, 2015

Well cognizant of the inevitability of pain in life, which leads to a melancholy resignation to the all-too-quick passing of life's golden, halcyon days, Pu Ru, whose great-grandfather was Emperor Daoguang, the 6th emperor of the Manchu dynasty, lived through the twilight years of the Qing. This last giant in poetry, calligraphy and painting, a bon-vivant who luxuriated in a privileged early life, eventually settled quietly down to a threadbare existence on the island of Taiwan after 1949. Throughout the tumultuous changes, he persisted in his literary and artistic creations indefatigably and transformed what to others would be unendurable despair into works of lasting beauty. Ben Wang, co-chair of the Renwen Society, will discuss the accomplishments of Pu Ru in Chinese poetry, calligraphy and painting.

Lecture: Liangzhu Writing and the Shennong Society ~ January 25, 2015

Mr. Hing Wan Cheng, an art collector and connoisseur, will discuss in this lecture the discovery of the writing in the Liangzhu period, 5300-4200 BC, and the light it sheds on the existence of a Shennong society in China.

Concert: 2015 Winter Piano Competition at Carnegie Hall ~ February 1, 2015

The Renwen Society is a co-sponsor of the 2015 Winter Piano Competition, which is part of the 2015 International Youth Winter Music Festival. The competition will be held on February 1st at Carnegie Hall. Candidates range in age from 6 and 21. #

Today, the Foundation for Excellence in Education's (ExcelinEd) CEO Patricia Levesque applauded legislative leaders, State Superintendent of Education John White and the Louisiana Department of Education for their work on Louisiana's Course Choice Program which led to students enrolling in more than 19,000 courses, greater than a 700 percent increase in one year.

"In just a few short years, Louisiana has shown that the student demand for personalized education is at an all-time high. We applaud the efforts of Louisiana's executive and legislative leaders, including Senator Conrad Appel and Representative Steve Carter, for ensuring that more students can enrich and customize their learning opportunities through Louisiana's Course Choice Program.

"Most of all, I want to congratulate Louisiana's students. They have shown that the desire to learn cannot be contained within four walls and a roof. All students can learn, and all students deserve access to the learning environment that fits their needs. We are proud to have collaborated with so many in Louisiana to expand course access, and we look forward to future opportunities to share the Louisiana model with other states."

The Louisiana Course Choice Program gives students access to hundreds of online and face-to-face courses like Advanced Placement, career and technical education, college credit opportunities and other learning opportunities that may be unavailable or underserved at their current school, without having to completely change students' current learning environments. Louisiana provides families the ability to pick from a simple online catalog for free courses. The state has become known as a leader for implementing high-quality courses and accountability for the course providers and the results.

In July 2014, Louisiana's course access program was highlighted in ExcelinEd's white paper, " Leading in an Era of Change, Making the Most of State Course Access Opportunities," and infographic which profiles states that are using innovative policy and technology to expand educational choices for schools and students, focusing on collaborative opportunities for efficiently delivering quality programs.#

Interview by Dominique M. Carson and Dr. Pola Rosen

Transcribed by Dominique M. Carson

Tina Flaherty is an accomplished author, businesswoman and philanthropist. She is known as "One of America's top corporate women." Flaherty's career has truly expanded; she got her start as a TV and radio personality and then became a corporate Vice President for three organizations: Colgate-Palmolive, Grey Advertising, and GTE (now Verizon). She has received many accolades in public service, academic achievement, and writing including an honorary degree from St. John's University. Flaherty took the time out to converse with Education Update about her third book, What Jackie Taught Us: Lessons from the Remarkable Life of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, which highlights Jackie's significant contributions to America and to society. In her book, Flaherty explains why Jacqueline Kennedy's memory and life will forever engage the public.

Education Update (EU): What made you decide to publish a book on the late Jackie Kennedy?

Tina Flaherty (TF):  I was a Vice President of three corporations. It was eighteen men and only one woman and I was that one woman. I broke grounds in 1976. But, when you're ambitious yourself, you always wonder what gives people their edge, what makes them? Why is Jackie so beloved? Why does the world idolize Jackie?  It was curiosity and I knew she had a lot to teach because she was so smart. I wanted to know what gave Jackie her edge.

EU:  What other information you can tell us about Jackie Kennedy that we didn't know?

TF: Jackie almost married another man; his name was John Husted. He was socially prominent but Jackie's mother was not that keen on him. Jackie wrote in her yearbook that her ambition was not to be another cake-baking housewife. She met John Kennedy at a dinner party and while at first it didn't click, she decided he had everything she wanted in a man. Another thing I should tell you about Jackie that most people don't realize is that she had a negative self-image. Her mother told her she was not feminine, her shoulders were broad, and her hips were too wide.

EU: When Jackie married John F. Kennedy, what job did he have?

TF: He was a junior senator.

EU: Now you live in the same building where Jackie Kennedy lived?

TF: Yes, I live in the same building where Jackie spent the final 30 years of her life. I've been here since 1989 and Jackie died in 1994.

EU: Did you ever see her in the lobby or the elevator? Did you ever invite her for a cup of tea?

TF: I didn't know Jackie well. We would have a nod and a smile. I did have an interaction with her son, John Jr. because he loved dogs. He came over to speak to me in the lobby of the building when he saw me walk in with my dog, Liam. He wanted to ask me whether I thought it was fair to have a dog in a New York City apartment instead of providing a big yard for them to play. I told him it didn't matter, as dogs just want to be wherever their pet parent is.

EU: How did you decide which of the 14 opinion leaders, as you call them, would be featured?

TF: The original book came out in 2004 but this book, in 2014, is expanded to include new and original essays from a striking array of people who are in art, politics, fashion, and history. Some of the people knew her. For example, Ken Barwick, who was president emeritus of the Municipal Art Society, shared with Jackie a focus on saving Grand Central Station. Ashton Hawkins, Executive VP of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, knew Jackie well and wrote a wonderful essay about her dedication to the museum.  Hawkins was frequently Jackie's escort. Best selling author, Dr. Andrew Roberts just came out with a book about Napoleon.  I wanted to know if Napolean and Jackie had any similarities and indeed he says they did. They both had the gift of self-awareness.

Liz Smith, an author and columnist, is in the book and it begins with her introduction. She said Jackie didn't exactly despise her fame; she just didn't want to cooperate with it unless it was on her own terms. Jackie was the most attractive, exasperating, intelligent, frustrating historical icon ever. She told the media that publicity was okay for her just as long as it was on her own terms. It was good when it was on the subject matter she wanted but otherwise she didn't want to cooperate.

EU: Did you write about Jackie and her men?

TF: Yes, there's a whole chapter.  Her relationship with Maurice Tempelsmen was, I think, the most satisfying relationship for Jackie.  He put her first and Maurice invested her money wisely; 45-250 million to be exact. The other two didn't put her first. One was running the country and Onassis was his own kind of guy but in the case of Maurice, he put her first.

EU: There was some discussion why Jackie married Onassis. Some say she married him for his money and because he would give her the privacy she wanted and shield her from the public. What do you think?

TF:  Some people forget the year she married him; it was an important year as it was 1968. Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. I think it was June 5, 1968 and her famous quote was "they're killing Kennedys again, my children are next, I hate this country, I want to leave." And there was Onassis in the background on a private island, which was very hard to get to. He had an army of 75 and a private airline. But, he was also an interesting man.

EU: How do you think Jackie influenced society?

TF: I think she influenced society because she was a do-er. She had big dreams but she made sure that she made them happen. Jackie changed the image of America. Before her we were thought of as the ugly Americans without any culture or taste. Jackie put on these wonderful and magnificent State dinners at the White House where she showcased the best of what America offered to people.

EU: Do you think she would've been thrilled with the way her children turned out?

TF:  I think she would've been pleased with Caroline because she was a hands-on mother like she was. I think with John, her eyes would light up just the mention of his name. I think she would've of been proud of John because John had a very creative nature like his mother. Jackie appreciated the fact that he loved the written word.

EU: Can you shed some light on Jackie's education?

TF: She went to Miss Porter's School and then spent two years at Vassar College. She studied a year abroad in Paris, France, attending classes at the Sorbonne during her junior year.  That was the first time she felt like she didn't have to hide her natural intelligence. Jackie's mother told her that men don't like smart women so Jackie used to hide it and not answer questions. But, her intelligence attracted Jack.

EU: Did Jackie do anything to spoil her reputation?

TF: I can't really say but when her she and Onassis got divorced, he tried to put out some dirty information about her like her spending habits. Jackie always acted like a lady but she did have a will of iron. She didn't like to be denied, she didn't give up.

EU: What was the most gripping thing you found out about Jacqueline Kennedy?

TF:  She was a person of great depth, both intellectually and culturally. It was a pleasure getting to know the depths of this woman and I am quite sure she will live in our memories forever and not just with our generation, but generations beyond.

EU: As an author, how do you plan to keep Jackie's legacy alive now that you have published the book?

TF: I've been fortunate enough to lecture at various venues, including Marymount Manhattan College and the World War II museum and recently, the Union League club. I want to keep her legacy alive because I don't think she ever received the credit that she deserved. #

The Beyond the Boroughs National Scholarship Fund, a charity organization focused on providing college scholarships to deserving students who have unmet financial needs, announced their partnership with worldwide tennis megastar Serena Williams and her charitable organization The Serena Williams Fund. Serena, ranked six times as the number one women's singles player worldwide, has selected Beyond the Boroughs to administer her college scholarship program.

The Serena Williams Fund was established with two goals in mind: to provide assistance to youth whose families have been affected by violent crimes, as well as to assist college-bound youth from low income backgrounds in receiving the highest quality education possible. Beyond the Boroughs, being the perfect partner for the organization in terms of educational assistance, will work with Williams' organization to manage the application process, vetting and selecting the best of their applicant pool, and then provide the outstanding applicants to The Serena Williams Fund for final awardee selection. All Serena Williams Scholars will also be eligible for internships and service learning trips through Beyond the Boroughs. Students can apply online free of charge between January 15, 2015 and March 15, 2015.

"I know the value of creating strong partnerships with organizations that are experts in their field.  I am so proud of the scholars I have been able to assist in the past and look forward to making this process even more efficient and sustainable by partnering with Beyond the Boroughs". The reigning number one women's tennis player excitedly announced this partnership at the home of Marc Leder, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Sun Capital Partners, on Friday night, standing side by side with Beyond the Boroughs Founder, Tutan Reyes.

Beyond the Boroughs was created in 2007 by NFL Veteran Tutan Reyes and offers general scholarships for up to $5,000 per year as well as named scholarships under personal, family or business titles that can help pay for a student's semester starting as low as a $2,500 donation. In 2013 alone, Beyond the Boroughs selected 11 students to receive $24,500 in funds to assist them in the pursuance of their college careers.  Scholarship winners were from all over the country and in many cases, represented first generation college students in their families.

"We are honored to work with The Serena Williams Fund through our named scholarship partnership program and contribute our experience in selecting deserving scholarship recipients. Our goal is to support our youth and help them achieve their educational dreams and goals," states Beyond the Boroughs Founder and former NFL Offensive Lineman, Tutan Reyes. "Serena is a tremendous role model for our young people and we are grateful for the awareness that she brings to the mission and cause."#

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By Dominique M. Carson

Recently, President Barack Obama honored 19 individuals with the 2014 Medal of Freedom Award at the White House East Room. Some of the honorees were Alvin Ailey, Stevie Wonder, Isabel Allende, Ethel Kennedy, and Marlo Thomas.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian award that rewards those for their "meritorious service" in politics, world peace, entertainment, literature, and social justice.

Obama shared his fondest remarks about each recipient when he said, "From activists who fought for change to artists who explored the furthest reaches of our imagination; from scientists who kept America on the cutting edge to public servants who help write new chapters in our American story, these citizens have made extraordinary contributions to our country and the world."

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was first launched in 1945 to recognize individuals who were prominent during the war.  18 years later, President John F. Kennedy reintroduced the award in 1963 to honor civilians during peacetime.

American Israel Friendship 1.jpg

The America-Israel Friendship League (AIFL) held its 2014 Partners for Democracy Award Dinner Monday night, December 1, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, honoring The Iron Dome.  The program opened with greetings from AIFL Chairman, Kenneth J. Bialkin.

"The AIFL is taking the extraordinary step of honoring not a person but a defense system.  The Iron Dome Missile Defense System successfully secured the skies of Israel against rockets and missiles launched by Hamas in the recent Gaza war.  Had not the Iron Dome achieved the success it did, Israeli's civilian population was at risk of immense casualties. "

The Iron Dome is an example of the successful combination of Israel's initiation and the U.S. support of financing and technical cooperation," said Bialkin."AIFL is honored that the NYSE recognizes Israel's accomplishments as a start-up-nation, not only in commerce, science and technology, but also in the creation of a society which advances the cause of freedom, liberty and human rights.  Israel stands as a partner with the United States in the common defense of the values we share," said Bialkin.

The League presented its Partners for Democracy Award to MK Peretz, former Israeli Minister of Defense who secured government support for the project; Dr. Daniel Gold, initiator and entrepreneur of the Iron Dome System and the Hon. Raymond W. Kelly, whom Ken Bialkin called "New York's Iron Dome" for his relentless fight against domestic terrorism.

Honorees also included RAFAEL Advanced Defense Systems, Ltd., the prime contractor for the Iron Dome project/ President  & CEO Vice Admiral (Ret.) Yedidia Yaari; Israel Aerospace Industries, Ltd., developer and manufacturer of the Iron Dome's radar system/Nissim Hadas, IAI Executive Vice President & Elta President and mPrest, developer and manufacturer of the Iron Dome Command and Control System/President & CEO Col. (Ret.) Natan Barak.

Prior to the award presentations, Pulitzer Prize winning foreign affairs columnist for The Wall Street Journal Bret Stephens moderated an Iron Dome discussion with Ambassador Ron Prosor, Dr. Daniel Gold, Ambassador Dan Gillerman and Eric Cantor.

The gala dinner at the Plaza was attended by leading members of the American and Israeli business, technology and philanthropic communities as well as government and diplomatic missions. 

Earlier in the day, The America-Israel Friendship League celebrated Israel Day at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Since 2007, the New York Stock Exchange has designated the day of the AIFL Partners for Democracy Award Dinner as Israel Day at NYSE.  The Exchange hosts meeting and conferences organized by the League relating to Israel's remarkable economic growth and development.  The day also highlights business innovation that can establish new partnerships and mutual investments, creating new employment opportunities in the U.S. and Israel.

 

 

 




 

 

 

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