September 19, 2018

Adelsons Pledge $13 Million to IAC

Pro-Israel mega-donors Sheldon and Miriam Adelson announced at the Israeli-American Council (IAC) Los Angeles’s 10th Annual Gala on Mar. 18 that they would be donating $13 million to the pro-Israel organization.

Miriam Adelson made the announcement toward the end of the evening at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, when people in the audience were announcing their pledges. The Adelsons’ pledge was by far the largest of the night.

“The IAC has achieved remarkable progress in advancing its historic mission,” Sheldon Adelson said in a statement featured in an IAC press release. “We are deeply invested in the organization’s long-term success and its vision of a coast-to-coast community with Israel in its heart. This is an investment in the future generations of Jewish Americans and the State of Israel.”

The IAC Board of Directors praised the Adelsons in the same press release as being “among the great Jewish leaders of our time.”

“Their bold vision, passionate leadership, and unmatched generosity have been an inspiration to all of us, and have propelled the IAC’s rapid growth and great success,” the statement said. “We look forward to partnering with the Adelsons in the years ahead to further the rapid growth of our community and our donor base, working together to make a historic impact for the Jewish people and the State of Israel.”

Another major pledge announced at the gala was $1 million from Haim Saban, who had previously withdrawn his support for the IAC in 2015. At the time, a spokesman for Saban issued a statement to The Forward that read, “Haim Saban is focused on a range of philanthropic activities to promote pro-Israel advocacy and tackle efforts to delegitimize Israel. In the near term, Mr. Saban is also concentrating on the Friends of the IDF and the Saban Forum, both of which have major events in the next few months.” At the gala, Saban said he was inspired by the IAC’s recent conference in Washington D.C. to support the organization again.

In total, the IAC raised over $16.5 million at the gala.

The gala was celebrating 10 years of the IAC’s existence and how it has blossomed into the fastest-growing Jewish organization in the country, with notable landmarks including the organization’s first event in Washington, D.C. in 2014 and hosting Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in 2017. IAC programs such as IAC Bina and IAC Gvanim have helped bring the Israeli-American community together and help them connect with their Israeli and Jewish identity and the IAC has worked with lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to implement anti-Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) legislation.

IAC Chairman Adam Milstein told gala attendees that the IAC’s growth has been due to a “strong nationwide movement” that is “rooted in our unequivocal love and support for our Jewish homeland, the state of Israel.”

“Our unwavering support for the state of Israel strengthens the Jewish community unlike any other American organization,” said Milstein.

The keynote speaker at the gala was Rabbi Avraham Infeld, an influential leader and teacher in the Jewish community worldwide. Infeld focused his address on how 250 years ago, Jews understood that being Jewish wasn’t necessarily being part of a religion, but being a part of a people. Today, thanks to modernity, a lot of Jews view Judaism as solely a religion instead, and it has been to the detriment of the community at large.

“We are living in a period in which the concept of a Jewish people has almost been forgotten,” Infeld said, later adding that the Jewish people “have become very divisive, very divided and understanding ourselves in different ways.”

Infeld said that “the IAC has an amazing job to do” to help ameliorate this issue.

The gala also featured a performance from Israeli singer Yehoram Gaon and a video message from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“We’re winning,” Netanyahu said in the video. “Israel is winning. Israel has never been stronger.”

Netanyahu told the IAC, “Thank you for everything that you’re doing” and urged them to keep up the good work.