The Simon Wiesenthal Center/Museum of Tolerance 2017 National Tribute Dinner drew prominent guests and speakers to celebrate the center’s 40th year, including Barbra Streisand, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and former DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg.
But the name that jumped off the evening’s program was the emcee, O’Shea Jackson, also known as Ice Cube from the rap group N.W.A.
“I know I may not be the most obvious host for tonight’s events,” he said onstage at the April 5 dinner. “But we’re not living in obvious times.”
“Recent events have only made nights like tonight and this museum’s purpose more important,” he added.
The black-tie event filled the 1,300-seat ballroom at the Beverly Hilton, raising a record $2.65 million for the center — half a million dollars more than it has raised at similar past events, according to Larry Mizel, chairman of the Wiesenthal Center’s board of trustees.
The evening honored Ron Meyer, vice chairman of NBCUniversal, with the center’s 2017 Humanitarian Award.
Meanwhile, the center’s dean and founder, Rabbi Marvin Hier, presented a posthumous Medal of Valor to former Israeli President Shimon Peres and Roddie Edmonds, a U.S. army officer and prisoner of war who saved 200 American Jewish soldiers during World War II by refusing to give them up to his Nazi captors.
Reverend Johnnie Moore, who has helped rescue dozens of Christians from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, also received a Medal of Valor.
The dinner also drew politicians and government officials, including Israeli Consul General Sam Grundwerg, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, State Senator Jeff Stone, and State Assemblymembers Dante Acosta and Laura Friedman. Other celebrity attendees included Michael Douglas, Tobey Maguire and AnnaLynne McCord.
Taking the stage to introduce Meyer, Streisand took aim at the Trump administration, saying the president “uses the bully pulpit to simply bully, offering no ideals and aspirations.”
“We must heed the warning signs of the past echoing in the discourse and the politics of the present,” she said, “for history has shown us the horrors of quiet whispers when we must all be shouting from the rooftops to say: Never again.”