AIFL APPOINTS NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
"AIFL APPOINTS NEW EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR"
New York, NY, March 13, 2013 - The America-Israel Friendship League is pleased to announce that Harris Vederman has been appointed Executive Director, succeeding Dr. Alex Grobman. Dr. Grobman will continue to serve the AIFL as a consultant which will permit him to reduce his management responsibilities and assist the new Executive Director in pursuing special projects and fundraising. Harris Vederman comes to the AIFL after 11 years at the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington, DC where he served most recently as the National Grassroots Director. During his tenure, he helped the RJC to grow from five to 40 chapters. He has extensive experience in the pro-Israel arena, working closely with the highest levels of Israeli political leadership and organizing several missions to Israel where he lived and worked for two years. Mr. Vederman and his wife Carol and their two young daughters are looking forward to becoming a part of the AIFL family.
Forgotten Rabbis Who Helped Holocaust Survivors
Reprinted from Arutz Sheva
Interview with Dr. Alex Grobman, Exec. Dir. America-Israel Friendship League: "American Jewish chaplains even took risks for survivors that could have gotten them court-martialed...tried to show survivors that they were no longer alone".
From Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld
"Credit for good deeds is often allocated improperly. Holocaust commemorators often honor the American soldiers who participated in the liberation of concentration or slave labor camps. Yet they frequently overlook the American Jewish chaplains who greatly assisted Holocaust survivors in the American zones of Germany and Austria at the end of the Second World War and the early years thereafter.
"Many Jewish chaplains acted courageously and charitably beyond their official tasks. Their primary function was to assist American soldiers in religious matters. There was even an order against fraternization in Germany with those living there. Some Jewish chaplains even took risks for survivors which could have gotten them court-martialed."
Dr. Alex Grobman is Executive Director of the America-Israel Friendship League, Inc. in New York. One of his many books is" Rekindling the Flame: American Jewish Chaplains and the Survivors of European Jewry, 1944-1948".
"Holocaust survivors in German camps presented unusual challenges for the Allied forces. The American military government wanted to help the Jewish Displaced Persons (DP's), but had great difficulty in understanding their numerous problems. Jewish survivors not only needed material help, but also psychological and spiritual support. Conditions in most of their camps were deplorable.
"The army wished to repatriate all DP's as soon as possible to the country they came from. However, of the more than 200,000 European Jews in Germany and Austria at the end of the war, many did not wish to return to the countries they had been deported from. Those who did faced danger, in particular in Poland and Lithuania.
"Many survivors who returned were frequently harassed. We do not know how many were killed. The most notorious pogrom was in July 1946, in which 47 Jews were murdered and more than 50 were wounded in Kielce, Poland. This made it clear why the majority of Polish Jews feared repatriation. Jews from Western Europe, Hungary, Romania, and Czechoslovakia were in a better position to reclaim their possessions and rebuild their lives.
"Jewish chaplains were among the first American Jews to meet Holocaust survivors. More than 90 of them had contact with DP's from 1944-1948. They were not official representatives of any American Jewish organization. Many chaplains attempted to influence the military's policies toward Jewish survivors. If they did not succeed, they often undertook various initiatives unilaterally. This sometimes meant risking their own careers, by engaging in covert actions to ease some of the traumas and dilemmas confronting Jewish survivors in Germany.
"Jewish chaplains helped survivors search for their families through illegal use of military mail; they rescued children hidden in churches and on farms; and they inspired American Jews to ship tons of food, clothing and basic necessities. They accompanied trains that transported Jewish children and adults out of Eastern Europe, and on youth transports to Palestine. A number worked with Brichah, the underground movement that smuggled Jews out of Europe and into Palestine. They also established schools, ritual baths and a summer camp. Several published educational material and functioned as rabbis of communities.
"One outstanding example was Chaplain Abraham Klausner, a reform rabbi. He tried to make the army acknowledge the uniqueness of the Jews' situation. Klausner worked to solve immediate problems and needs, but also to have Jewish survivors recognized as a separate nationality. He helped establish Jewish "camps" to protect the survivors from frequent harassment by non-Jewish inmates. He assisted in creating an organization of survivors, the Central Committee of Liberated Jews in Bavaria, which represented their interests to the American military. Klausner was instrumental in establishing three Jewish hospitals where DP's were treated by Jewish physicians. Simultaneously he attempted to alert American Jews to their plight.
"With the help of survivors, Klausner compiled and published six volumes containing systematic lists of survivors in Bavaria and distributed them throughout the world. This was the first major attempt to communicate with Jews in the West.
"With assistance from Max Braude, an Orthodox rabbi and Judah Nadich, a Conservative rabbi, Klausner was able to help survivors establish Unzer Weg. This became the largest Yiddish weekly in Germany and was viewed by many survivors as their national newspaper.
"Klausner saw that Jews in Dachau dressed in their camp uniforms and were still forced to live behind barbed wire. He thereupon wrote an unauthorized report about the state of Jewish survivors in Bavaria which created a stir in the American Jewish community. Klausner also played a key role in shaping the Harrison Report that established the position of adviser on Jewish affairs to the commander of the U.S. forces in Europe in August 1945, in response to the plight of Jewish DP's."There was no difference in the extent of commitment between the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis. They all tried to show survivors that they were no longer alone. We owe these chaplains a tremendous debt of gratitude. Their many good deeds merit to be remembered."
Christian supporters of Israel gather in DC for the Christians United for Israel Summit
Reprinted from the Jerusalem Post Christian Edition
CUFI: A Godsend
07/23/2012 16:41 By JIM FLETCHER
The gathering threats to Israel, varied and growing in sophistication, were very much on the minds of 5,000 die-hard Christian Zionists this past week in Washington D.C. Members of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) met for the annual "Washington Summit," hosted by evangelical Pastor John Hagee.
The Summit was a smashing success, not only for the enthusiastic attendees, but for Jewish-Christian networking. With Malcolm Hoenlein delivering a thundering address, and other speakers like evangelical broadcaster Erick Stakelbeck warning of the dangers of jihadist ideology, the Christian supporters of Israel got their money's worth.
JoAnn Magnuson, curator of the Jewish-Christian Library & Education Center in Minneapolis, is a veteran of Jewish-Christian relations. She was buoyed by this year's Summit:
"I have attended all seven of the CUFI Summit events and I believe that this was the strongest one yet. I have attended, and in many cases worked on, most of the major pro-Israel events in the USA over the last 30 years so I have some experience in this field. I was one of the few Christian members of AIPAC back in 1982 and have long wished that an organization would be created that would make that sort of single-issue lobbying experience accessible to the Christian community. CUFI has done that."
The Rev. William Harter, a colleague of Magnuson from the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel (NCLCI), has spent decades advocating for Israel among the mainline churches. Specifically, Harter has worked hard to oppose the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, particularly in the Presbyterian Church. In addition, he is a board member for the America-Israel Friendship League (AIFL), which seeks to build friendships for Israel amid shared values.
Harter and AIFL Executive Director Alex Grobman attended this year's CUFI Summit. Harter summed-up his experience:
"The conference provided convincing and detailed information underscoring the necessity of understanding the Israeli/Palestinian struggle, as part of the ongoing search for authentic pluralism on the part of minority peoples-Jewish, Christian, Muslim and others-in the larger Middle East as well as significant portions of Africa and Asia.
"The conflict between authoritarian and triumphalist world-views and those who advocate human and civil rights including the rights of women and children was articulated very well."
The work of AIFL, which focuses heavily on hosting delegations to Israel, increasingly dovetails with the work of CUFI. Grobman, a leading Holocaust scholar and friend of evangelicals, also recognized the specialness of this year's Washington gathering.
"We applaud Reverend John Hagee and his wonderful staff for making this conference such a moving experience. What makes CUFI conferences so inspiring are not only the excellent speakers, but the incredibly dedicated people you meet at these events. They have an infectious enthusiasm, a profound love for Israel, and an understanding of the importance of the Jewish state as being in the forefront in the war against terror. They recognize that Jews and Christians are in this fight together for the future of our way of life."
AIFL chairman Kenneth Bialkin and League advisor Uri Bar-Ner (former Israeli ambassador to Turkey) are also keen on working with evangelicals, thus Grobman's attendance at the Summit.
The evangelicals present in Washington this past week made it clear they are committed to standing with Israel, and they were deeply moved by Irving Roth's address at the opening plenary session.
Roth, director of the Holocaust Resource Center at Temple Judea in Manhasset, New York, told his poignant story of surviving Auschwitz and Buchenwald. He then showed his solidarity with the Summit audience:
"God has sent CUFI to the Jewish people!"
David Brog, the Jewish attorney from Washington recruited by Hagee to oversee the vast CUFI operation, is well aware of the value of networking. In fact, the growing ecumenical cooperation among pro Israel advocates bodes well for battling what evangelical book publisher (Balfour Books) Thomas Sharp refers to as an "information war." At a press briefing, Brog mentioned the fact that Palestinian propagandists are infiltrating the American Church:
"The enemies of Israel seem to finally get that the Christian community in America is a group to reach. They recognize even the evangelical Church has a liberal side. They are aggressively targeting churches in America."
He went on to add that from time to time, field reps for CUFI report back that a particular church is not interested in "what we're selling," due to influence from Sabeel, or some other Palestinian source. In America, religious leaders like Jim Wallis of Sojourners, Brian McLaren, and Lynne Hybels of Willow Creek Community Church are increasingly promoting the Palestinian narrative. Last spring, evangelical pastors John Ortberg, Joel Hunter, and Bob Roberts participated in the "Christ at the Checkpoint" conference in Bethlehem.
These developments, along with mainstream media coverage of Israel, and strategic threats from rogue regimes, compel groups like CUFI to pledge their unwavering support for the Jewish state.
The America-Israel Friendship League Applauds the Appointment of Secretary of State John Kerry
March 4, 2013
Dear Mr. Secretary:
The America-Israel Friendship League wishes to express its congratulations and best wishes on your appointment as Secretary of State. We are confident that your long history of involvement in international affairs will serve our country well.
We congratulate you, in particular, for your public criticism of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's recent comment that Zionism is a crime against humanity.
In his speech on February 2, 2013 at a U.N. forum in Vienna, Mr. Erdoğan said "Just like Zionism, anti-Semitism and fascism, it becomes unavoidable that Islamophobia must be regarded as a crime against humanity". Such a statement, equating Zionism and fascism, is a classical anti-Semitic screed and your protest should be welcomed by all fair-minded people. The America-Israel Friendship League wants to thank you for your refreshing candor and courage in speaking the truth.
We wish you the very best of luck as you undertake your historic duties.
Kenneth J. Bialkin
Chairman of the Board
AIFL Think Tank holds a Reception to Discuss its Position Paper: 120 Years Later - Zionism and the American Jewish Community
Last week, the AIFL Think Tank held a reception to discuss its recently published inaugural position paper: "120 Years Later - Zionism and the American Jewish Community".
AIFL board, supporters and Think Tank members were hosted by Mr. Kenneth Bialkin, AIFL Chairman and Mr. Gol Kalev, AIFL Think Tank Chair at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP.
Mr. Kalev presented key highlights of the position paper and the guests participated in a discussion. Much of the discussion centered around Israel as the new "glue" that could bind together and preserve the secular-Jewish community, as well as on Israel's own Jewish identity.
To read more about the Think Tank and for the full length position paper please go to: http://www.aifl.org/what-we-do/think-tank
To read a summary of the paper published in the Jerusalem Post: Jerusalempostarticle