American comedian and former late-night talk show host Jay Leno is coming to Israel for his first visit after making abundantly clear that he is a Zionist at heart.
Leno will emcee the inaugural awarding of the “Genesis Prize,” which many have dubbed “the Jewish Nobel Prize.”
In the run-up to his departure for the Holy Land, Fox News got ahold and Leno and asked what he thinks of the Jewish state in general, and of its role in the Middle East conflict, in particular.
“At some point in your life, you have to sort of take sides. I tend to side with the Jewish point of view on many things, especially issues like this one. I realize how important Israel is,” said Leno, insisting that he is “very pro-Jewish, very pro-Israeli.”
In response to pressure on international artists and public figures to boycott Israel and to avoid performing here, Leno simply said, “It’s a great honor. It’s a great country. It’s a great people.”
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be the first Genesis Prize laureate, after meeting the prize committee’s criteria of “excellence and international renown in their chosen professional fields”, and whose actions, in addition to their achievements, embody “ in a way that embodies ”the character of the Jewish people through commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and/or to the State of Israel."
The ceremony will be held in Jerusalem on May 22. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be among a guest list of 400 dignitaries.