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Senator Jeff Merkley Wins 2012 Human Relations Award

By Nataly Teplitsky
Epoch Times Staff
Created: November 2, 2012 Last Updated: November 5, 2012
Related articles: United States » West
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Oregon Area Jewish Committee president John Moss (L), Senator Jeff Merkley (C), and event co-chair Kenneth Lewis (R). The OAJC honored Merkley (D-Ore.) with its 2012 Human Relations Award on Oct. 25 in Portland. (Nick Shepard)

Oregon Area Jewish Committee president John Moss (L), Senator Jeff Merkley (C), and event co-chair Kenneth Lewis (R). The OAJC honored Merkley (D-Ore.) with its 2012 Human Relations Award on Oct. 25 in Portland. (Nick Shepard)

PORTLAND—On Oct. 25, 2012, the Oregon Area Jewish Committee (OAJC) presented Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) with its 2012 Human Relations Award. The award was presented at a dinner held at the Benson Hotel. 

Representatives from many organizations attended the event, such as the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center, the Never Again Coalition, the Human Rights Council of Washington County, Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon, the Coalition Against Hate Crimes, and others.

By presenting Merkley with the Human Relations Award, the OAJC acknowledged his tireless dedication to public service following many of the principles that the OAJC stands for.

Merkley is a member of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, an independent government agency that monitors human rights and rule of law developments in China. In 2011, he co-sponsored S.Res. 232: “A resolution recognizing the continued persecution of Falun Gong practitioners in China…and calling for an immediate end to the campaign to persecute Falun Gong practitioners.”

In his closing remarks following the award ceremony, the Senator touched upon important national issues. “America has a big problem,” he said. “We are overinvesting in the overseas wars and underinvesting in education and infrastructure. Let’s end the war in Afghanistan and bring our sons and daughters home. And bring our resources home as well.”

Speaking on education, he stressed, “Currently, the amount of schooldays in America for our children from K to 12 is the lowest in the developed countries. This is unacceptable.” Further elaborating on the necessity to invest more in education, the senator said, “We are becoming the first generation of parents whose children are getting less education than we’ve got. That is unacceptable.”

Merkley emphasized, “A nation that educates their children well will not only become the nation of children that do well, but we’ll have the economy that will do well for all. We need to make that happen.” 

Traditionally, the OAJC Human Relations Award is presented to leaders, who with their skills, influence, and dedication, have demonstrated their profound commitment to preserving our heritage of democracy. 

The OAJC maintains ongoing dialogue with Catholic, liberal Protestant, Muslim, Buddhist, and Hindu groups and engages in frequent conferences and joint projects with Latinos, African Americans, Asian Americans, and other racial and ethnic communities. 

Being a passionate human rights defender for over 30 years, the OAJC considers protecting human rights to be a responsibility of the international community that should be a central factor in U.S. foreign and domestic policy. The OAJC emphasizes that dehumanization, indifference to discrimination, and intolerance lead to genocide.

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