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Western Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces gala at the Beverly Hilton, November 2, 2017. The sold-out gala claims to be “one of Los Angeles’ premier charitable events.” It drew 1,200 supporters from across the country.
By Sara Powell and Alison Weir
One would think that one of the world’s most powerful armies wouldn’t need a fundraiser to support its troops, especially since Israel already gets over $10 million per day from the US. Nevertheless, Hollywood mogul and longtime pro-Israel advocate Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl hosted a gala event in Los Angeles on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 to do just that. This is just one of such events held across the U.S.
The celebrity-filled event was for Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIFD) a U.S. “charity” that even before the fundraiser had assets of over $190 million. Donations to it are tax-deductible in the United States, although it is unclear why donations to benefit a foreign military (and one that regularly raises concerns about war crimes) should reduce one’s financial obligation to the United States. The gala was held despite the IDF’s record of killing civilians, including children.
FIDF National Board Member Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, chaired the star-studded gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel for the 11th straight year. Saban is major donor to the Democratic party and has long been particularly close to the Clintons.
Jewish Insider reports that “Guests included prominent business, philanthropic, and political leaders and celebrated names in entertainment, fashion, sports, and technology, including Consul General of Israel in Los Angeles Sam Grundwerg; Dutch LLC CEO Serge Azria and his wife, Florence; Managing Member of R.H. Book LLC and Chairman of Jet Support Services Inc. Robert Book and his wife, Amy; Oracle Co-CEO Safra Catz; GUESS Founders Maurice and Paul Marciano; and Founder and President of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein and his wife, Joelle.”
Celebrities included Miss Israel 2013, Gerard Butler, David Foster, Joanna Krupa, Katharine McPhee, Paul Reubens (aka Pee Wee Hermanconvicted for possessing child pornography), Melissa Rivers (daughter of comedian Joan Rivers), and movie star and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
There were also 17 members of the IDF, all born and raised in the US, who later made Aliyah (immigration to Israel, considered a birthright for all Jews), flown over for the event.
According to reports, the largest amounts donated were $16.6 million by Oracle co-founder and CTO Larry Ellison, $6 million by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, $5.2 million by GUESS co-founders Paul and Maurice Marciano, and $5 million by host Haim Saban.
FIDF reportedly has more than 150,000 supporters and 20 chapters throughout the United States and Panama.
Barbra Streisand, Larry King, Sylvester Stallone, and Robert de Niro helped raise money at previous FIDF events, according to Variety and Jerusalem Online. Streisand said at a 2014 fundraiser: “This event is always one of the most inspiring and emotional evenings of the year.”
A few months before, Israeli forces had invaded Gaza, killing 2,000 Palestinians, including at least 521 children. More than 10,000 were injured and nearly 500,000 were displaced from their homes. Over 19,000 homes, hospitals, businesses, schools, and places of worship were destroyed or severely damaged.
Some of those performing at this year’s Los Angeles gala were Seal, David Foster and Gene Simmons of Kiss.
Such galas are held all over the U.S. Over 1,200 people attended the gala in New York on October 23, 2017, raising over $35 million. The FIDF website reports that Galas are held in the following areas: Tri-State | Los Angeles | San Diego | SF Bay Area | Las Vegas | Central Region Pennsylvania & Southern New Jersey | Greater Miami | Palm Beach
Israel Events and Missions | Michigan | New England | Ohio | Southeast RegionTexas | Seattle | Midatlantic | Panama | Other Regions
Numerous Hollywood celebrities say they love Israel:
We can’t look at Jerry Seinfeld the same way anymore. He is twisted in the head…. Not so funny anymore!
Pro-palestinian activists slammed Jerry Seinfeld over visiting the camp, calling it an endorsement for “occupation, apartheid and land theft.”
U.S. Jewish Comedian Jerry Seinfeld received a massive backlash against his decision to take his family to an “anti-terror” Israeli training camp where visitors can play the role of Israeli soldiers engaging in operations against Palestinians in the West Bank, in what critics saw as an endorsement of the Israeli illegal occupation.
The star of the 1990s popular U.S. sitcom “Seinfeld” was in Israel for 10 days doing stand-up shows before he decided to take his family to the Caliber 3 academy near the illegal settlement of Efrat, south of Bethlehem, where he and his family members posed for pictures with Israeli trainers. Such camps have been popping up quickly in Israel over the past few years and described as “military or war tourism”.
The controversy began after the academy celebrated the comedian’s visit and posted several pictures of him and his family with the trainers at the camp on Facebook. Seinfeld and his family came to Caliber 3 “for shooting training with displays of combat, Krav Maga, assault dogs and lots of Zionism. It was great,” the page said with the post. The photos were later deleted from the camp’s page without explanation.
“There is nothing funny about occupation, colonization and profiteering off of the theft of another peoples land,” tweeted Yousef Munayyer, the executive director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.
Remi Kanazi, a U.S.-Palestinian artist and poet, wrote on Facebook: “Jerry Seinfeld and his family play fascists in the West Bank. Indoctrinating his young children to murder Palestinians and steal land. There is nothing funny about apartheid, occupation, settlement expansion, and executing occupied Palestinians.”
Pro-Palestinian U.S. activist Donna Nassor called for boycotting the artist. “Seinfeld and his family … practice shooting Palestinians. Such a lovely way to teach the next generation to hate. I am glad I never got into watching his television show back in the day. Be sure to add him to your Boycott list please!!”
The camp, which charges “tourists” US$175 per person, uses shooting targets with pictures of people resembling Arabs and Muslims as part of their “counter-terror” stimulations and trainings.
Videos and photos posted by the company show men dressed in Israeli army uniform raiding mock structures of homes and apartments that have Palestinian flags hung from them and targets featuring men with Palestinian national scarf wrapped around their heads.
The booming Israeli industry of the so-called “anti-terror fantasy camps” promise its visitors the “ultimate tourist experience,” with programs that include shooting adventure and survival training.
Seinfeld’s visit comes amid major tensions in Palestine, Israel and the Middle East over the United States decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, despite the Palestinian claim to the occupied eastern side of the city, which they wish to be the capital of their future state.
In recent weeks the Israeli army, whose methods are featured in camps like the one Seinfeld visited, has killed dozens of Palestinians while arresting hundreds in a brutal crackdown on protests against Washington’s unilateral decision in the West bank and Gaza.
Video: Phil Tourney, a survivor of the USS Liberty speaks about the horrific ordeal on what occurred on that ship when Israel attacked
In his new book, Remember the Liberty! Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas, Philip F. Nelson has documented U.S. treason at the highest levels of government in a planned false-flag operation that called for Israel’s high-seas slaughter of USS Liberty sailors on June 6, 1967.
In the annals of US military history, there are no doubt many unsolved and perplexing mysteries, but few could compare to the fate of the US Navy spy ship that was mercilessly attacked by one of its closest allies intentionally and without warning. One of the reasons it is still a mystery is because it is also the only peacetime attack on a US naval vessel that, to this day, has never been investigated by the Congress of the United States. Learn More
Personal eyewitness testimony of Phil Tourney, US Navy Petty Officer concerning Israel’s 2 hour attack upon his ship USS LIBERTY on June 8, 1967 and the following cover-up by the US government. Learn More
By S.T. Patrick
Phillip F. Nelson’s new book, Remember the Liberty! Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas,* seeks to out the American politicians responsible for the planning, execution, and cover-up of the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty in 1967. In tracing the planning of the June 8 attack back to 1965, Nelson has written a work that holds President Lyndon B. Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara responsible.
In 1979 Liberty survivor James M. Ennes Jr. wrote the first full treatment concerning the Israeli assault on the unarmed U.S. naval ship. After the release of his book, Ennes pursued further research at the LBJ Library in Austin, Texas. Within that research, Ennes found a misfiled document that detailed the minutes of a meeting held by a “303 Committee” in April 1967. The 303 Committee was responsible for all covert CIA operations within the Johnson administration.
The 303 Committee consisted of CIA director Richard Helms, former ambassador to the Soviet Union Foy Kohler, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Earle Wheeler, Deputy Secretary of Defense Cyrus Vance, and National Security Adviser Walt Rostow. Rostow also headed a separate White House group that consisted of Johnson’s most adamantly Zionist advisors.
McNamara was often used by LBJ as the key liaison and chief executioner of the covert operations birthed by the 303 Committee and the other groups.
The minutes of the 303 Committee meeting—held two months before the attack on the Liberty—referenced an operation called “Frontlet 615.” Operation Cyanide was found within the subparts of Frontlet 615. The 303 Committee used Frontlet 615 as a code name for the pending Six-Day War between Israel and Egypt. As planned, the war was scheduled to begin on June 15. The Americans had agreed to provide equipment, officer training, and the limited use of aircraft to the Israelis.
Operation Cyanide was a provocative false flag that called for an Israel Defense Force attack on a U.S. ship. The assault on the unarmed ship would use unmarked fighter jets so that the destruction could then be blamed on the Egyptians, and the Americans could enter the war on the side of Israel.
It was not the first time Johnson had dabbled in false-flag operations. Years earlier, he had tasked National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy with “Plan 34A” in Vietnam. Buddy was charged with constructing a series of provocations that would cause the North Vietnamese to attack American destroyers (i.e., Gulf of Tonkin). Some historians cite Tonkin as the primary reason for Johnson’s 1964 win over Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-Ariz.).
In a decision that confounded LBJ, Israel began its war with Egypt 10 days early. The USS Liberty was rushed from its position off the horn of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea. The Liberty had been chosen as the victim of Operation Cyanide.
In Remember the Liberty! Nelson recalls the tense confusion and abandonment Admiral Lawrence Geis experienced as the Liberty was being attacked. Geis later relayed the tale to Chief Intelligence Officer David Lewis, who agreed not to reveal the information until Geis had died, which he did in 1987.
Geis explained to Lewis that Johnson had ordered two sorties of fighter jets recalled—one that had been en route to the Liberty ten minutes after the attack. Johnson had also recalled two A-4s, launched from the USS America within minutes, armed with nuclear weapons and headed for Cairo, Egypt.
McNamara called Geis and instructed him to recall the aircraft. “We’re not going to war over a few dead soldiers,” McNamara told Geis. McNamara, expecting the Liberty to sink within the hour, told Geis that he could order another sortie of fighter jets in 90 minutes. When the hour-and-a-half had passed, Geis prepared to order assistance. McNamara again instructed him to recall the order.
Geis demanded to speak to the president, who was standing next to McNamara. Johnson confirmed to Geis that he should “recall the wings.” He told Geis that he didn’t care if the Liberty sunk to the bottom of the Mediterranean. He was not going to embarrass his ally.
Upon assuming the presidency after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Johnson had told Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Golda Meir in 1963, “You’ve lost a great friend, but you’ve found a better one.” He promised Ms. Meir that there would be no repeat of the Eisenhower incident of 1956. Ike had rebutted Johnson, who had attempted to persuade the president to back off on sanctioning Israel. The threat of sanctions was levied by Eisenhower after Israel had refused to release lands in the Sinai Peninsula.
In Remember the Liberty! Nelson further details the political maneuverings that make Johnson, McNamara, and LBJ’s administration culpable in the 1967 attack on American sailors off the coast of Egypt and Israel. A part of the proceeds from Nelson’s work are donated to the Liberty Veterans Association.
S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent ten years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer” News Show. His email is STPatrickAFP@gmail.com.