2011 Award Dinner
America-Israel Friendship League Celebrates and Honors Israel as a “Start-Up Nation” in Many Fields of Human Endeavor
The AIFL’s annual Partners for Democracy Awards Dinner was held at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan on November 29th. The theme was Celebrating Israel as a Start-Up Nation. The awardees were Dan Senor and Saul Singer, co-authors of the international best-seller Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle, and Idan Ofer and Shai Agassi, of Better Place, an Israeli-based venture-backed company working to produce a transportation infrastructure that supports electric vehicles. The AIFL used the theme to showcase Israel for its achievements in scientific, human rights, social services, and cultural and artistic endeavors.
The AIFL also issued a proclamation praising Israel’s successes. The proclamation, which was addressed to Israeli President Shimon Peres and President Benjamin Netanyahu, noted that the AIFL dinner was being held on the 64th anniversary of the UN vote to support the partition of the British Palestine Mandate into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab.
The high spot of the evening was a panel narrated by Jonathan Medved. The panelists were former Israeli UN Ambassador Dan Gillerman, who serves as AIFL Israel’s chairman of the board; Dan Senor; and former NYC Mayor Ed Koch. The focus of the discussion was an effort to determine why, despite all Israel’s efforts and tremendous achievements for its own citizens as well as the world, the Jewish state is still menaced at the UN and by much of the world with threats of boycotts and divestment.
Messrs Gillerman and Koch maintained that most anti-Israel sentiments are little more than antisemitism dressed up in a more acceptable, politically correct package.
“Israel is the Jew among the nations,” said Mr. Gillerman, “It is the canary in the coal mine. Iran, for example, is not an Israeli problem, but, rather, a danger to the civilized world as we know it.”
Mr. Koch agreed, but, he also said, too often, “our greatest problem is other Jews,” who attack Israel unfairly and single the Jewish state out for criticism never mentioned against other nations whose offenses in human rights make any infractions by Israel pale by comparison.
Senor focused on Israel as an economic success story. “Stop talking about Israel as a ‘conflict,’ and start seeing it as a country whose successes are changing the world,” he said. “Israel’s success story is one that is just beginning.”