November 15, 2019

Netanyahu Spurs Fund Drive

Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to Los Angeles last Sunday to raise money and morale, and in a packed banquet room and inside quiet meeting rooms, he did both.

Netanyahu spoke Sunday morning, May 5, to an audience of 2,400 people at a breakfast banquet at the Century Plaza Hotel.

The banquet, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, raised $2.7 million and counting toward the federation’s $12 million Jews in Crisis campaign goal.

The Federation’s emergency Jews in Crisis campaign supports services aiding victims of terror and other causes in Israel. The campaign also includes a plea for the plight of the eighth largest Jewish community — that of Argentina’s — whose institutions are threatened by a national economic meltdown.

Netanyahu also met on Sunday with smaller groups of large donors and entertainment industry leaders. At those meetings, participants reported, he reiterated many of the points he made at the breakfast banquet.

At the banquet, Sinai Temple’s Rabbi David Wolpe, Jewish unity advocate David Suissa of Suissa-Miller Advertising and Alan Hayman, whose 31-year-old daughter Shoshanna Greenbaum was killed in last summer’s Sbarro’s bombing in Israel, all delivered impassioned speeches before Netanyahu took to the stage.

Wolpe urged Jews to continue supporting Israel through financial contributions and tourism. "Look at us. We’re the most affluent Jewish community ever," Wolpe said, pointing out how fortunate Jews are to live in the United States. "We owe a debt. Not of guilt, but of responsibility."

Pledging $50,000 to the Jews in Crisis campaign, Suissa held up a pro-Israel advertisement that he was placing in The New York Times. "We do want to attack," Suissa said. "We want to attack injustice. We want to attack the lies. We want to remind the world that we do want peace, and we did offer peace, and the Palestinians said no."

Hayman railed against what he felt was the international media’s failure to illuminate the lives of fallen Israeli soldiers, who in an effort to protect Palestinian civilians, went door-to-door to weed out terrorists.

Minutes after Hayman’s speech, Netanyahu took to the stage against the backdrop of a standing ovation.

"It never ends with the Jews; it just always begins with the Jews," Netanyahu said, sizing up those who blamed Israel for political tension between the West and the East. He had sharp words for those who claimed that the root cause of the Middle East situation was Arab misery inflicted by the Israel.

"That can be sold to people whose sense of history goes back to breakfast," Netanyahu remarked, eliciting enthusiastic cheers. "The root cause of terrorism is totalitarianism."

Quoting 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant, Netanyahu discussed the nuances of deterrence as a weapon against terrorism. However, he emphasized that Kant could not foresee the "cult of death" of the suicide-bombers that, unlike aggressors of Kant’s epoch, have no concern for collective survival. Such grotesque terrorism as that employed by Arab extremists, he added, has never been employed in any other conflict in history.

His remedy: plant the seeds of democracy in the Arab dictatorships, as was done with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan after World War II.

Netanyahu called on the expulsion of Yasser Arafat’s regime, as well as the dismantling of Iran, Iraq and other rogue governments fueling the Palestinian side of the conflict.

"There is no other way to have peace and restore security," Netanyahu said. "You can deter terrorist regimes or you can destroy them. This is the only way to fight terrorism. This is what America is doing right now."