updated 10/21/2010 1:16:23 PM ET 2010-10-21T17:16:23

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton congratulates Arison: "Your work has impacted the world in a profoundly positive way, touching lives everywhere." Israeli President Shimon Peres joins the congratulations: "Shari is a great contributor to Israel and has a significant influence on the country."

"I'm proud to receive this award that honors my contribution to the relations between America and Israel – relations that are of the utmost importance to me, and I believe to the world at large," said businesswoman and philanthropist Shari Arison, the owner of the Arison Group, last night in New York.

NEW YORK, Oct. 21, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- At a gala dinner at New York's Plaza Hotel last night, Arison received the America-Israel Friendship League's Partners for Democracy Award in recognition of her contribution to advancing economic relations between the United States and Israel. The AIFL also honored Bank Hapoalim and the American corporation Noble Energy.

A link to the speech is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdVeE9psOwk

"The Arison Group, like other businesses, has investments all over the world. Through business and philanthropy, we touch lives, create jobs, generate change and bring about real returns," Arison said.

"I believe that through business and philanthropy, we can do good and bring goodness to the world – a world that is in so much need of hope. If we are all partners in the initiative, we will have an effect on our surroundings, thereby creating circles of change, and we can truly make our world a better place to live in for us and for future generations," Arison asserted.

At the gala, attended by leading U.S. and Israeli economic figures, former U.S. President Bill Clinton warmly congratulated Arison in a videotaped greeting: "Shari, tonight all of us honor you ... Your work has impacted the world in a profoundly positive way, touching lives everywhere ... Thanks for all you've done – thanks for all you continue to do. You deserve this award."

Shimon Peres, the President of the State of Israel, also sent a taped greeting: "Shari Arison is the owner of one of the largest business groups in Israel and she runs it with great wisdom and skill. Shari is a great contributor to Israel and has a significant influence upon the country."  

Earlier in the day, Ms. Arison gave a speech at the New York Stock Exchange to mark Israel Day at the NYSE. A link to the speech is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqH5A7AJshs

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