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French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday presented France's highest honour, the Legion of Honour, to World Jewish Congress chief Ronald Lauder, praising him as "a man of peace, culture and commitment".
"Since 2007, you have been the president of the World Jewish Congress, which brings together representatives of Jewish communities from 100 countries, you criss-cross the world and you carry a message of tolerance and peace," Hollande said in a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris, where he bestowed the medal on the American.
Hollande praised Lauder, 68, for guiding the Jewish community "in a world where threats are accumulating and where hatreds thought to have disappeared are reappearing".
He also hailed Lauder, who is the heir to the Estee Lauder cosmetics empire, as a talented businessman who owns "the most beautiful collection of modern art ever assembled by an individual".
"With you, France honours a man of peace, culture and commitment. The cause you serve is to preserve memories for the future," Hollande said.