Dec 11, 2006 — Sen. John McCain called Israel a “great democracy” and proclaimed that the United States “will defeat terrorism against America, and we will stand with Israel as she fights the same enemy,” in his address at Yeshiva University’s 82nd Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation on Dec. 10 at The Waldorf-Astoria.

For photos of the Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation click here.

Yeshiva University President Richard M. Joel conferred honorary degrees on Sen. McCain, believed to be the leading candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination in the 2008 election, and five prominent leaders—Amb. Daniel C. Kurtzer, Dr. Felix Leo Glaubach, Arnold S. Penner, Solomon Scharfstein, and Marcy Syms—at the annual convocation.

The senator called Yeshiva University a values-centered institution whose students emerge as potential leaders and that “captures a truth that animates America’s foreign policy: that our enjoyment of fundamental rights and liberties can never be complete until it is matched by the freedoms of all people, everywhere.” He said it is an impulse that the United States shares with the State of Israel.

Noting that the Jewish state has thrived, though often in the face of great difficulty, he said, “It is clear that Israel has been tested more, in less time, than any nation on earth.” He added that “The tests continue today in the form of suicide bombers and rocket fire, in the anti-Semitism so pervasive in the Arab press, and in the existential threats issued routinely by the Iranian president.” But, he emphasized, “There will always, always be an Israel.”

Turning to Iran, which he labeled the world’s chief state sponsor of international terrorism, he called its pursuit of nuclear arms “an unacceptable risk” that poses an existential threat to Israel. “Iran’s choice is clear. So is ours,” he said noting that “every [United States] option must remain on the table.”

The other area of critical importance to the security of both America and Israel is Iraq, he said. “We cannot wish away the many serious mistakes we have made there or the violence that plagues that society.” But, he cautioned, “if US forces begin a pullout [before Iraqi security forces are capable of handling operations on their own], we risk all-out civil war and the emergence of a failed state in the heart of the Middle East. We must do everything possible to succeed there.”

The Convocation included a video presentation that highlighted members of the university’s first-rate faculty, reinforcing the university’s academic and intellectual richness. Then President Joel conferred the honorary degrees on Dr. Daniel C. Kurtzer, an alumnus and former Yeshiva College dean who served as US Ambassador to Israel and as US Ambassador to Egypt; Dr. Felix Leo Glaubach, a graduate of Yeshiva College and YU’s High School for Boys and member of the YU Board of Trustees who is founder and president of Personal Touch Home Care; Arnold S. Penner, a prominent real estate investor and philanthropist who serves on the Board of Overseers of YU’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Solomon Scharfstein, prolific author and president and co-owner of KTAV Publishing House, one of the world’s leading publisher of books of Jewish interest and distributor of synagogue supplies; and Marcy Syms, chief executive officer of Syms Corp., the national discount apparel store chain, and founding member of the Board of Directors of YU’s Sy Syms School of Business.

At the dinner following the Convocation, Yeshiva University celebrated the historic beneficence of Ronald P. Stanton, who recently made a $100 million gift to the university that will go to establish the Ronald P. Stanton Legacy. President Joel then called on this year’s Points of Light—a group of individuals who, each year at the dinner, are recognized for bringing light into the world through their leadership and commitment to values.

They were: Edith Lubetski, head librarian of the Hedi Steinberg Library on the Beren Campus, which is named in memory of Mr. Stanton’s mother; Shai Barnea, a Yeshiva College alumnus who works at Mr. Stanton’s company and who conceived of an innovative campaign, the YC 100 Fund,” to secure investments from other young alumni in the future of YC; Victor Schwartz, MD, university dean of student affairs who leads YU’s team of 35 professionals; Ronald P. Stanton Presidential Fellows Eli Hagler in the Office of Student Affairs and Eliezer Shaffren in the Office of the Vice President for University Life; and Mr. Stanton’s own children and grandchildren.

Morry J. Weiss, chairman of YU’s Board of Trustees, announced that the dinner raised about $1.7 million, a record for YU, the proceeds of which will go toward scholarships and other priority needs of the university.