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Obama adds Dylan, Albright to Freedom Medal recipients

JTA

April 26, 2012 | 2:47 pm

Bob Dylan. Photo by Alberto Cabello

Bob Dylan. Photo by Alberto Cabello

Madeleine Albright, Bob Dylan, Shimon Peres and Jan Karski will be among 13 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The list was released Thursday. President Obama had previously announced that he was set to confer the medal on Peres, the Israeli president, and Karski, the late Polish resistance fighter who was among the first to document the Nazi genocide.

Among Albright’s contributions, the White House said in announcing the medal recipients, she “helped lead the Alliance’s campaign against terror and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, pursued peace in the Middle East and Africa, sought to reduce the dangerous spread of nuclear weapons, and was a champion of democracy, human rights, and good governance across the globe.”

Albright learned from a reporter in 1997 that her parents had hid their Jewishness from her. The revelation came just as she was set to be named President Bill Clinton’s secretary of state.

She is now writing a book tracing the Jewish heritage of her parents and the fate of 25 relatives she lost in the Holocaust. In a Washington Post interview on Thursday, she likened the revelation of her Jewish past just as she was preparing to become the first female secretary of state to being handed a gift to unwrap just as she started a marathon.

Dylan, a singer-songwriter, transformed rock and folk music in the 1960s by fusing the sensibilities of the two genres.

The White House release said Dylan was “known for his rich and poetic lyrics,” and “his work had considerable influence on the civil rights movement of the 1960s and has had significant impact on American culture over the past five decades.”

Karski, who died in 2000, “carried among the first eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust to the world,” the White House said, and Peres “has strengthened the unbreakable bonds between Israel and the United States.”

The medals will be given out this summer on a date yet to be determined.

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