The Simon Wiesenthal Center honors Johnnie Moore alongside NBCUniversal Vice Chairman Ron Meyer and posthumous honorees the late Israeli statesman Shimon Peres and World War II soldier Roddie Edmonds, at the center’s 2017 Annual National Tribute Dinner.
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish human rights organization with more than 400,000 members, conferred upon Johnnie Moore its prestigious Medal of Valor for his humanitarian work assisting and advocating for persecuted Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East, on Wednesday, April 5. The award ceremony, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, was attended by many of Hollywood’s most influential executives, producers, and celebrities.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential Rabbis in the world, presented Moore with the Medal of Valor to a prolonged standing ovation.
Alongside Moore, the Medal of Valor was posthumously awarded to Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former President and Prime Minister of Israel Shimon Peres, and Master Sgt. Roddie Edmonds. Edmonds, an American officer and POW in World War II, was recognized for standing up to his Nazi captors and saving 200 Jewish GIs despite being threatened with execution.
Hollywood icon Barbra Streisand presented Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBCUniversal, with the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Humanitarian Award.
Johnnie Moore, who was awarded the Medal in recognition of his advocacy for persecuted Christians and his role in rescuing thousands from ISIS affected territories, accepted the award on behalf of the pastors, priests, and multitudes of Middle Eastern Christians who live under constant threat because of their faith. He also gave special recognition to courageous Jews and Muslims who defended and aided Christians—especially the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who first declared that what was happening to Christians in Iraq and Syria was in fact genocide, and King Abdullah of Jordan, who has allowed his country to be a place of refuge for persecuted Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East.
“I’ve just done what I could,” said Moore in his acceptance remarks. “What if we all did what we could to help everyone we could? Soon such acts of kindness would be so commonplace that they would no longer merit the honors we celebrate tonight.”
“No one person can save the world, but we all can save a life,” he said. “We can prove to the world that the best of faith is still stronger than the worst of religion—for every act of love on behalf of someone another hates is the death of bigotry.”
Johnnie Moore has been assisting and advocating for persecuted Christians and religious minorities for over a decade. For that work, he has been called a “modern-day Dietrich Bonhoeffer,” and was recognized as “one of the world’s foremost spokespersons for Christians in the Middle East” by a prominent vicar. The Iraqi Christian Chaldean Diocese of San Diego previously honored him as a “savior of thousands.”
In early 2014, as an insurgent terrorist group—now known as ISIS—started to grow in influence, Moore visited Capitol Hill to warn about the existential threat this group posed to Iraq and Syria’s minority Christian and religious communities. National leaders largely responded with indifference, but he continued his advocacy, warning the world to act. The world largely didn’t, and, by the fall of 2014, ISIS had fully embarked on a campaign of terror to exterminate the region’s Christian community. Moore traveled to the region to document first-hand accounts of Christians who had come face-to-face with the violence and extremism of the terrorist group. His resulting book Defying ISIS was largely credited with awakening many in the west to the atrocities ISIS was committing against Christians, Yazidis, and other persecuted religious minorities in the Middle East.
In the end, Moore has helped raise over $25 million in humanitarian aid and emergency assistance to assist Christians from Iraq and Syria. His consistent advocacy for persecuted Christians played a role in the genocide resolutions against ISIS passed unanimously in both houses of Congress, the British and European Parliaments, and the subsequent public declaration by Secretary of State John Kerry that ISIS was committing genocide.
Moore continues to raise his voice against anti-Semitism and religious intolerance and to advocate for the right of religious freedom of every person. His forthcoming book on the global persecution of Christians, The Martyr’s Oath, will release this October.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center National Tribute Dinner is an annual award celebration to honor men and women who have stood up against anti-Semitism, hate, and bigotry. It’s chaired by many of Hollywood’s leading lights including Steven Spielberg, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger, DreamWorks Animation founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, MGM Chairman and CEO Gary Barber, and Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos, among others. Its co-chairmen include movie stars Tom Cruise and Will Smith, and producers Ron Howard, Roma Downey, and Mark Burnett. Also in attendance were leading evangelicals like New York Times Bestselling author Dr. David Jeremiah, Museum of the Bible president Cary Summers, and National Association of Evangelicals President Leith Anderson.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center is one of the largest international Jewish human rights organizations in the world with over 400,000 member families in the United States. It is an NGO at international agencies, including the United Nations, UNESCO, the OSCE, the OAS, the Council of Europe and the Latin American Parliament (Parlatino). It has offices in Europe, the United States, South America and—of course—Jerusalem. The organization also founded the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles and the forthcoming Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, opening in 2018.