NEW YORK -- Ivan Seidenberg, president and co-chief executive officer of Verizon Communications, has been awarded the Jewish Theological Seminary's Louis Marshall Award.
The Louis Marshall Award is named for the constitutional lawyer who chaired the seminary's board of directors from 1904 until his death in 1929 and who was a member of the American-Jewish delegation to Versailles in 1919. It honors men and women who demonstrate concern for social justice, ethics and communal service.
The award was presented to Seidenberg Nov. 28 at a dinner in Manhattan.
In accepting the honor, Seidenberg paid tribute to Marshall, saying he was "so articulate in his affirmation that Jewish Americans be passionately involved in both American and Jewish life and worked tirelessly to eradicate discrimination against all minorities and faith groups."
Saidenberg said, "But what Marshall never could have imagined is the complexity the Internet would bring to the 'hate' equation. Anti-semitic articles he railed against 80 years ago are still widely available on the Web, at the hundreds and hundreds of hate sites operating today. White Supremacists, who once terrorized people in the dead of night with burning crosses and painted swastikas, are now working 24 X 7 through the Web."
He also acknowledged Ray Smith, the former Bell Atlantic chairman, for recognizing early on the disturbing development of hate activity on the Internet. Seidenberg noted that beginning under Smith's leadership, Verizon has embraced the Internet's reach and its ability to connect our children to positive experiences instead of promoting censorship.
"In a country that was founded on free speech, cyberhate cannot be mandated out of existence," said Seidenberg. "Cyberhate can be countered by creating content dedicated to diversity, tolerance and equality.
"The same mouse that introduces children to racism and bigotry also opens the doors to the world's leading libraries, art museums and other worthwhile endeavors," Seidenberg said.
"Verizon fights destructive rhetoric with constructive dialogue," he said, noting that the Verizon Foundation has provided funding to numerous Internet sites that promote cultural diversity and ethnic harmony.
Seidenberg said, "The Talmud says 'hate is like a channel made by water. It widens continually.' This is a fitting analogy to cyberhate on the Web.
"Tonight we honor Louis Marshall, who began building a dam to stem the flow of hate 100 years ago. It is a structure we must continue to strengthen every day. The women and men of Verizon look forward to continuing our working relationship with the Jewish Theological Seminary - one that endeavors in Marshall's footsteps to open doors and minds everywhere."
Founded in 1886, the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) is a leading center of Jewish learning outside Israel, educating tomorrow's Jewish leaders using the tools and perspectives of modern scholarship. A Jewish university with a world-class faculty and a diverse student body, JTS grants undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees through its five schools and offers enriching programs for the Jewish community in the U.S., Israel and around the world.
Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), formed by the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 100 million access line equivalents and more than 26 million wireless customers. A Fortune 10 company with more than 260,000 employees and approximately $60 billion in 1999 revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.