Sarkozy, who served as the French president between 2007 and 2012, said he was honored and that he had "always felt a great camaraderie with the Jewish people. I take pride in that friendship."
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He added that he felt committed to his ties with the Jewish people and vowed that "If attacked, Israel will not be alone. We will not tolerate a threat to the existence of the Jewish people and the state of Israel."
Sarkozy in Netanya on Monday (Photo: Ido Erez)
Sarkozy noted that "The fanatical Iranian leaders are heading toward nuclear weapons and the threat of mass destruction is feeding terror.
"Despite all this, Israel never gave up investing in youth. You're a beacon to the whole world. Israel is the opposite of pessimism, the opposite to giving up, and as such its message is universal," the former president asserted.
"Regarding Syria," he said, "the world appears to be completely frozen in the face of the systematic destruction of a great state and a great nation. Intervention in Libya has proven the machine of death can be stopped. I cannot accept the genocide by the ruler. It's sad for me to see our Europe passive, looking at Israel as it acts alone, one airstrike after another.
"These people are in critical danger. I want to believe it's still not too late to take from Assad the weapons with which he massacres his people," he added.
Regarding his ties with the Israeli prime minister, Sarkozy satate "We didn’t manage to do everything with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau; we couldn’t promote peace, but along with Netanyahu we dealt with some challenging issues, and I mean the release of Gilad Shalit from captivity," Sarkozy said.
Noam Shalit, Gilad Shalit's father, was present at the award ceremony.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Sarkozy in a letter, stating "You are a true friend to the State of Israel and the people of Israel. I am certain that this degree will strengthen the ties between the French and the Jewish people.
The college president, Professor Zvi Arad, said that "Sarkozy is awarded for his friendship with the State of Israel and the Jewish people, and for facing racism and anti-Semitism with courage and determination. He is a true friend to the State of Israel.
Arad added that Sarkozy was one of the most important leaders in the 21st century and that with Sarkozy as representative of France, "We would like to express a historic thanks to the French people."
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