Former US leader George W. Bush has been awarded the greatest honor bestowed by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which honored the Texan with its America’s Democratic Legacy Award last week.

Bush, elected president in 2000 and 2004, was honored by the ADL last Thursday during a gala for its national executive committee meeting in Palm Beach, Fla., reports the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The event, which was closed to the press, offered an opportunity for the ADL to praise Bush’s leadership during his presidency, specifically his support of Israel and his decisions in the years following the 2001 terrorism attacks.

“We will never forget, Mr. President, how the vision you laid out of ‘two states, living side by side, in peace and security’ still informs our consciousness and our parlance today,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said, according to a statement released by the ADL, and reprinted in Haaretz. “You solidified an unbreakable affinity between two democracies challenged by extremists and terrorists–and an ironclad shared understanding–that security is one of the most important foundations for peace.”

Foxman went on to praise the former president’s calm response to 9/11.

“When you were called on to respond to unspeakable terror, hate and violence, you refused to let America give into stereotypes,” Foxman said, per the statement. “You answered calls for anti-Muslim revenge with calls for respect and understanding.”

President Bush also spoke at the exclusive $600-a-plate event, held at The Breakers, according to the Palm Beach Post.

“The best Middle Eastern policy starts with an alliance with the only democracy in the Middle East, and that is Israel,” Bush said in the statement. “The cornerstone of peace begins with an unshakable US-Israel alliance.”

Given annually for the past five decades, the America’s Democratic Legacy Award was established in order to “those precious few individuals who have helped make our nation a place where freedom, equality and democracy are cherished rights forever,” according to the ADL website.

Previous recipients run the gamut of professions, from statesman to lawyers, religious leaders and leaders in the world of entertainment.

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