On September 25, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) held its annual gala dinner and raised $37 million for programs supporting Israeli military members.
The FIDF was established in 1981 and bills itself as “anon-political, non-military organization that provides for wellbeing of the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), veterans and family members.” The group provides soldiers with academic scholarships and financial aid, it also aims to assist soldiers who have been wounded. The New York Hilton Midtown event attracted over 1,200 attendees including a delegation of active duty IDF members.
Our National New York gala was a success! Thanks to all who came out and supported us! https://t.co/hWhrl66WO5
— Friends of the IDF (@FIDF) September 26, 2019
“The heroes of the IDF serve and protect the State of Israel, its people and Jews around the world,” Rabbi Peter Weintraub told the crowd while chairing the event for the fifth year. “During this very special evening, our community was able to come together to pay tribute and show the brave IDF soldiers our profound appreciation and thanks for their sacrifices. We stand together with these young Jewish heroes – our heroes – and declare: While their job is to look after Israel, ours is to look after them.”
Major General (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir, National Director and Chief Executive Officer of the organization, told the Israel Hayom newspaper that the IDF is “an extraordinary force of good” and that it “holds human life above all else.”
“Israel’s soldiers are true global heroes who go above and beyond the call of duty: They save lives, tend to the needy, care for the wounded, and help whomever is in crisis,” said Klifi-Amir.
This week’s event was criticized by a number of people on Twitter. “Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces Gala in New York City raises $37,000,000 to support Israeli soldiers & IT’S A TAX EXEMPT US CHARITY?,” tweeted Arab American Institute co-founder James Zogby. “On what planet is this right? Or does it make sense that it’s a tax write-off to contribute to the army that occupies Palestinian lands?”
Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces Gala in New York City raises $37,000,000 to support Israeli soldiers & IT’S A TAX EXEMPT US CHARITY? On what planet is this right? Or does it make sense that it’s a tax write-off to contribute to the army that occupies Palestinian lands? pic.twitter.com/ZqlALx8Nx4
— James J. Zogby (@jjz1600) September 27, 2019
A similar dinner held last year in Beverly Hills generated $60 million and was attended by celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Pharrell Williams, Gerard Butler, and Katharine McPhee.