By Larry Gordon
We are now in the midst of the season of events that bring attention and support for a strong and secure Israel.
Last week we attended AIPAC’s Five Towns dinner event in Long Beach. AIPAC events, most of the time, are off the record, but I can say that it was well-attended. We heard from an assistant to former U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley (who was listed on the invitation), and we gained some remarkable insight to the inner workings of the UN and the way in which what goes on there is so slanted against Israel.
Later in the same week, we attended the Friends of the IDF event at The Sands in Atlantic Beach, which is always riveting and awe-inspiring. I can say more about this event, as there are fewer restrictions than at AIPAC for some reason.
At the FIDF event there were about a half-dozen active members of the IDF, usually men and women who are serving in special units. Attorney Ben Brafman, as the master of ceremonies, did an excellent job keeping the program moving along. It is a long program sandwiched between dinner and dessert, but that is how most of these events work.
Most of us admire these young people who play such an integral role in the defense of the state of Israel. One of the young men present at last week’s event was a Five Towns native; his parents reside in Cedarhurst, he graduated from Yeshiva of Far Rockaway, and he serves in the IDF as a ground soldier, something he said he had always aspired to do.
While there are tens of thousands of young men and women serving in the IDF at any given time, a great deal of the focus of Friends of the IDF is on “lone soldiers.” Those are young people who leave their homes abroad to serve the Jewish people and the state of Israel.
When soldiers with family in Israel have time off, they are able to go home to their families and friends. Lone soldiers without the assistance of FIDF would too often be exactly that — alone or lonely, or both.
FIDF sponsors soldiers’ trips home to see family in other parts of the world, and provides educational scholarships so once they leave the military, the soldiers can start their careers. It is a fulfilling project to be involved in, and it speaks to the very fabric and, indeed, purpose of Jewish unity.
Annual NORPAC Mission to Washington, D.C.
Earlier this week, the annual NORPAC trip to Washington, D.C. took place, with the backdrop of declining support for Israel. Democratic support for Israel used to be automatic. Now, with President Trump’s unquestioning and absolute backing of Israel, Democrats supporting Israel run the risk of agreeing with Mr. Trump, which defies the across-the-board Democratic clarion call to resist everything Trump, no matter what it is about.
That is why on Tuesday, 1,200 people from around the country, most from the New York and New Jersey areas, met with elected officials in Washington, D.C., to discuss the issues, mostly about the vital importance of the U.S.–Israel relationship.
Democrats they met with included New York senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, and members of Congress from New York such as Eliot Engel, Kathleen Rice and Tom Suozzi. Support for Israel from most Democrats is still solid but there have been some cracks in the wall.
Double Dinners for Israel
As we head into June, there will be two important events on the same night, Thursday, May 30. The first is for Friends of United Hatzalah of Israel, a remarkable organization founded by Eli Beer, a group that redefines what it means to respond to an emergency medical situation anywhere in Israel. This dinner event will take place at Pier Sixty on the west side of Manhattan.
Also on that same night is the annual American Friends of Ateret Cohanim dinner at the Marriott Marquis Hotel just a few blocks over at 45th Street and Broadway. This annual event is one of the great celebrations of Jerusalem on our annual calendar.
Why is it that both of these groups are having their New York functions at the same time and on the same night? The reason for that is another much anticipated event on the communal calendar: The Celebrate Israel Parade, formerly known as the Israel Day Parade, on June 2.
The benefit of having the two dinner extravaganzas in such close proximity to the parade is that the Sunday event on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan draws a significant number of leading personalities and members of Knesset, and the scheduling allows them to come to New York on Thursday, attend one or both of the dinners, spend Shabbat in New York, and then participate in the parade.
New York Jewish hub is alive with important support for Israel. Whether it’s the focus on the U.S.–Israel relationship, support for IDF lone soldiers, securing our property rights in the Old City of Jerusalem, or making certain that our brothers and sisters in Israel are the beneficiaries of the best and most expeditious medical care, we have the opportunity to be involved in seeing that all these projects are well-funded and successful.
Looking back and looking ahead to the next few weeks, it is easy to conjure the idea of “Who is like this people, Israel?” I think we all know the answer.