New York, NY, Israel Defense Forces Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Benjamin (Benny) Gantz, told guests at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) National Gala in New York that Israel’s “enemies” are building a “bustling industry of terror” that they are trying to conceal while presenting another face to the West.
More than 1,400 prominent business and philanthropic leaders from across the country gathered at the historic Waldorf Astoria Hotel for the FIDF National NY Gala Dinner, demonstrating their love and support for the soldiers of Israel and FIDF and raising $20 million. National Chairman Emeritus Arthur Stark served as the Gala Chairman, and author and nationally syndicated radio host Dr. Monica Crowley served as the evening’s Master of Ceremonies.
“Our enemies are weaving a web of deceit that allows them to make unprecedented complex strides - a web which they go to great lengths to conceal, but we go to greater lengths to uncover,” Gantz told FIDF supporters. “We see them, we hear them, we recognize them, and most important of all, we act with boldness, innovation and courage to stop them anywhere, in any way and at any time.”
Gantz also spoke of the “deep and eternal commitment” between Israel and the United States, which he said fosters strong operational ties between the two countries’ armed forces. The relationship is “based on shared values, almost identical interests and a similar social and political structure, creating commitment in the struggle for peace and security,” he said.
Among the distinguished guests in attendance were FIDF National Chairman, Nily Falic; FIDF National Director and CEO, Maj. Gen. (Res.) Yitzhak (Jerry) Gershon; Israel Defense and Armed Forces Attaché to the U.S. and Canada, Maj. Gen. Yaacob Ayish; Israel Air Force Attaché and Deputy Defense Attaché to the U.S. and Canada, Brig. Gen. Yakov Shaharabani; IDF Spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Motti Almoz; the IDF’s 19th Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi; President of the New York Yankees, Randy Levine and his wife, Mindy; American real estate tycoon and media proprietor, Mort Zuckerman; American sex therapist, media personality, and author, Dr. Ruth Westheimer; and Executive Director of the FIDF Tri-State Region, Richard Goldstein.
“The IDF soldiers stand ready to do what it takes to protect the State of Israel and the Jewish people – wherever they may be. They do it willingly, they do it with an incredible pride and passion and, often, they do it at great personal sacrifice,” said Arthur Stark. “FIDF is a unique organization that tells these brave men and women, our sons and daughters who proudly wear the IDF uniform that we recognize that passion, we recognize that sacrifice, we recognize that devotion, and we stand with them.”
Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, greeted the audience via satellite, and thanked them for their invaluable support for Israel’s soldiers. Guests then were treated to a special surprise when the Commander of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, together with a group of combat pilots, joined via live satellite from Israel and simulated a complex Air Force operation.
$20 million dollars was raised by the evening’s end. Notable among the donations was $2 million pledged by FIDF National Chairman, Nily Falic, and family, $1.5 million pledged by President of FIDF NY Young Leadership (YL), Lemor Bar-Or, on behalf of YL-NY; $1 million pledged by National Board Member, Benny Shabtai; $1 million pledged by the Iranian American Jewish Federation (IAJF); $1 million pledged by Genesis Philanthropy Group North America; and $500,000 pledged by Stuart Rhar.
The evening culminated with heartfelt words shared by Yael Schiffenbauer, the widow of helicopter pilot Daniel Shiffenbauer, a former Squadron Commander in the IDF Air Force who was killed during military exercises in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania in 2010. In her speech, she spoke about losing her beloved husband and the father of their three sons, and the healing support offered to her family in their time of grief.
The funds raised during the evening will provide much needed and well-deserved services such as academic scholarships to former combat soldiers, financial support for soldiers in-need and Lone Soldiers from around the world, weeks of rest and recreation for entire IDF units, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities. The evening was a rare and exclusive opportunity to pay tribute to the State of Israel and to send a message of love and support to the brave men and women in uniform.
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