Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

America-Israel Friendship League:

Partners for Democracy

AIFL President, Harley Lippman (left), with Ambassador Assaf Shariv, Israel�s Consul General in NYC (right).    Photos: Courtesy AIFL
AIFL President, Harley Lippman (left), with Ambassador Assaf Shariv, Israel�s Consul General in NYC (right).
Photos: Courtesy AIFL

By Henry J. Levy

There's an old saying that one can't have too many friends and that a good friend is hard to find. Since that is true, it gives even more meaning to the organization, America-Israel Friendship League [AIFL] and to the common values it promotes between these two countries.

Recently the AIFL honored Lester Crown, Chairman of Henry Crown & Company and Michael Federmann, Chairman and CEO of Federmann Enterprises with the 2009 Partners for Democracy Award.

Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano.   Photos: Courtesy AIFL
Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano.
Photos: Courtesy AIFL

Keynote remarks for the evening were presented by AIFL's Israel Board Chairman, Ambassador Dan Gillerman. He said that the evening was not about politics or the relationship between the two countries but about love � a true love affair between people of the Unites States and the people of Israel. Also that with the increase of terrorism worldwide, the bridge and bond between these two countries are much bigger and stronger than ever but that this relationship has never been, and must never be, taken for granted but must be nurtured and encouraged, intensified and strengthened.

The two honorees embody in their life stories and achievements everything that is excellent, beautiful, innovative, creative and compassionate and that shows the deep caring for both the U.S. and Israel.

Lester Crown likened Israel to the canary in the coal mine of Western civilization. He said, "it's like an early warning system and terror alert for the world. It's a small country but contributes to all humanity in every different field".

From left: Dan Gillerman; Honoree Michael Federmann; Kenneth J. Bialkin, AIFL Chairman; and Dr. June Dempsey, AIFL VP.   Photos: Courtesy AIFL
From left: Dan Gillerman; Honoree Michael Federmann; Kenneth J. Bialkin, AIFL Chairman; and Dr. June Dempsey, AIFL VP.
Photos: Courtesy AIFL

The Crown family is involved in too many charities to mention yet also finds time to act as Honorary Chair of the Survivors of the Shoah, board members of the Jewish Theological Society, Tel Aviv University, Weitzman Institute of Science and the Jewish Federation of Chicago.

Micky Federmann, served in the IDF's elite commando unit, was awarded the Israel Indus-trial Prize, is a key Board member of Hebrew University, Weitzman Institute of Science, the Technion, owns the Dan Hotel chain [which includes the King David Hotel], employs over 11,000 Israelis in Israel's largest defense electronic company [Elbit Systems Ltd.] and is Chairman of the Federation of Israeli Tourism Organizations.

From left: Harvey Krueger; Josh Weston; and Kenneth J. Bialkin, AIFL Chairman.   Photos: Courtesy AIFL
From left: Harvey Krueger; Josh Weston; and Kenneth J. Bialkin, AIFL Chairman.
Photos: Courtesy AIFL

The guest speaker for the evening was Janet Napolitano, Secretary, U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This is now the third largest federal agency with 230,000 employees responsible for counter terrorism missions on land and sea, immigration reform and protecting the country against national disasters. She spoke about the increase of arrests within the U.S. of individuals suspected of being homegrown terrorists. She debunked the notion that if we fight terrorists abroad we wouldn't have to fight them here. She said our response to seeing more Americans inspired by Al Qaeda and radicalized by extremist web-sites that encourage them to commit acts of terrorism is one of strength and resolve, not alarm and anxiety. While these are long term challenges she feels that we and our allies will prevail.

Past Pressident Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations, Harold Tanner, with AIFL Honoree, Lester Crown.   Photos: Courtesy AIFL
Past Pressident Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations, Harold Tanner, with AIFL Honoree, Lester Crown.
Photos: Courtesy AIFL

For Napolitano, however, there seems to be a big disconnect between her duty to keep Americans safe on the one hand, while according those who would do us harm [terrorists and enemy combatants] all the rights and liberties due bona fide American citizens under the law. After nearly losing an airplane full of people to a home grown airline terrorist she claimed that our safeguards worked. Americans could not believe their ears and truly worried that with Napolitano and Obama safeguarding us we were doomed. Since when are terrorists with rights more important than listening to warnings, profiling when trained professionals say to profile, and harsh interrogations to hopefully allow us to identify and dismantle terror organizations?

From left: Israel's UN Ambassador, Gabriela Shalev; Israel's US Ambassador Michael Oren & Sally Oren.   Photos: Courtesy AIFL
From left: Israel's UN Ambassador, Gabriela Shalev; Israel's US Ambassador Michael Oren & Sally Oren.
Photos: Courtesy AIFL

Napolitano sounded great at the AIFL dinner but aside from the terrorists, who has con-fidence in her now?

There appears to be a lot more that America can and should learn from Israel, from El-Al, and from our own 911 Report recommendations to help keep us safe in the future � that is if the safety and security of Americans is more important than political correctness and the naivete of the Obama Administration.

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