LOS ANGELES -- More than 1,200 supporters and celebrity guests from across the country gathered earlier this month at the landmark Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills for an annual Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) Western Region Gala.  FIDF National Board Member and major supporter Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl, chaired the star-studded gala for the 11th year.

FIDF offers educational, cultural, recreational, and social programs and facilities that provide hope, purpose, and life-changing support for the soldiers who protect Israel and Jews worldwide. FIDF proudly supports Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers, families of fallen soldiers, and wounded veterans through a variety of innovative programs and capital projects.

FIDF is a non-political, non-military organization that does not and never has provided any form of military aid.

FIDF was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors as a 501(C)(3) not-for-profit organization with the mission of offering educational, cultural, recreational, and social programs and facilities that provide hope, purpose, and life-changing support for the soldiers who protect Israel and Jews worldwide. Today, FIDF has more than 150,000 loyal supporters, and 20 chapters throughout the U.S. and Panama. FIDF proudly supports IDF soldiers, families of fallen soldiers, and wounded veterans through a variety of innovative programs that reinforce the vital bond between the communities in the United States, the soldiers of the IDF, and the State of Israel.


Following the recent release of the Statement of Jewish Organizations on Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Campaigns Against Israel, 38 additional organizations have co-signed, bringing the total number condemning the effort to delegitimize Israel to 131.

"It was not possible to contact every Jewish organization around the world in advance of publishing the statement," AICE's Executive Director Dr. Mitchell Bard said.  "Once it was released, many groups that condemn BDS wanted to co-sign. Given the global consensus opposed to the anti-Semitic BDS movement, I would not be surprised if we are contacted by additional groups when they learn about the statement."

Dr. Bard also highlighted the depth and breadth of the consensus.  "These organizations span the political and religious spectrum of the Jewish world and rebut BDS advocates who falsely claim to represent 'the Jews.'"

The statement notes that "academic, cultural and commercial boycotts, divestments and sanctions of Israel are: counterproductive to the goal of peace; antithetical to freedom of speech and part of a greater effort to undermine the Jewish people's right to self-determination in their homeland, Israel."  It also condemns the extremist rhetoric of the delegitimization movement.
The signatories acknowledge that criticism of Israel is legitimate, but note that criticism becomes anti-Semitism "when it demonizes Israel or its leaders, denies Israel the right to defend its citizens or seeks to denigrate Israel's right to exist."
The statement expresses particular concern with the BDS movement on campus because it "is antithetical to principles of academic freedom and discourages freedom of speech," has provoked "deep divisions among students," and has "created an atmosphere of intolerance and hatred."
The statement calls on "students, faculty, administrators and other campus stakeholders to uphold the academic and democratic values of a free and civil discourse that promotes peace and tolerance."

"It is especially important that this statement be disseminated now on college campuses," Dr. Bard said, "because the anti-Israel advocates are starting to ramp up their efforts to promote BDS and denigrate Israel."
"We all believe in peace," added Dr. Bard, "and that goal cannot be achieved by demonizing and boycotting Israel."


(l-r) At UN headquarters in New York; David Bedein, Rabbi Cooper, UN Senior Official Darko Mocibob, Jonathan Halevy & Dr. Arnon Groiss

LOS ANGELES -- The Simon Wiesenthal Center helped fund a comprehensive new study of 150 Palestinian textbooks used on the West Bank and Gaza including those provided to UNRWA, the UN agency that provides educational and social services for Palestinians.

The study, by the Center for Near East Policy Research, was presented to a senior official at UN headquarters in New York as well as to US Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) on Capitol Hill.

Rabbi Cooper, Associate Dean and Director of Global Social Action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish NGO was part of a delegation that included Arab textbook expert, Dr. Arnon Groiss, Middle East expert Jonathan Halevi and David Bedein, Center for Near East Policy Research founder who has been tracking UNRWA activities for three decades.

The books deny that Jews have any holy places in the Holy Land – the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem are all depicted as Muslim holy places threatened by Jews.

These textbooks in UNRWA schools teach that Israel has no legitimacy as a state, “a clear violation of the UN’s own rules,” Rabbi Cooper said, continuing, "Deeply troubling is that the name Israel has been virtually erased from the newest books. It’s replaced by 'Zionist occupation’ and Arab-Zionist conflict'. Poems taught to youngsters praise ‘martyrdom’ against Jews."

The Wiesenthal Center had brought up these issues months ago with UN Secretary General Guterrez. Now Dr Groiss has submitted 262 pages delineating a curriculum which prepares the next generation of Palestinians, not for peace, but for more conflict, more violence, more Jew-hatred. If UNRWA doesn’t change course then the US and other major donor nations should defund its educational budget.

“Instead of preparing the next generation for a Two-State solution, living in peace alongside Israel, new Palestinian textbooks, including many used in UN schools indoctrinate violence, denial, deceit, and demonization of the Jewish people,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper said

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