The incongruities were numerous Tuesday night as the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces held its annual gala at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel here.
The organization raised $24 million in a single evening, which will go to support the programs it runs for current members of the Israeli armed forces, as well as veterans and family members of those killed in the line of duty.
New York, NY, March 10, 2015 - Sixty New Yorkers weathered Tuesday evening’s downpour to protest the gala fundraiser organized and hosted by US nonprofit Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) at the Waldorf Astoria. Demonstrators demanded that FIDF be stripped of its current tax-exempt status, which allows it to raise funds used to subsidize the Israeli military at the American taxpayers’ expense. Last year, the FIDF’s tax-exempt fundraising was subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of at least $20 million. Signs and pamphlets at the demonstration reminded attendees and passersby that these tax-exempt millions are not supporting a humanitarian cause, but a military force with a known record of egregious human rights abuses.
FIDF is a multimillion dollar 501c3 not-for-profit organization that collects funds to send to the Israeli military. In 2014 at their last gala dinner, they raised $20 million for what they call “the wellbeing of IDF soldiers”. But this is NOT a humanitarian organization. The Israeli military, (the Israel Defense Forces), has been a violator of human rights and international law as seen in the recent massacre in Gaza, the 2008-9 massacre in Gaza, the 2006 attack on Lebanon, the 60+ year assault on and dispossession of the Palestinian people.
The summer’s bloodletting in the Gaza Strip has stopped, but the discourse on war that Israel’s assault sparked in the U.S. rages on. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Hollywood, where celebrity criticism of Israel led to recriminations from pro-Israel stars and threats to blacklist those who spoke out against the military operation. The entertainment industry is splitting over Israel in the wake of that state’s punishing attack on Palestinians in Gaza.
Before hostilities ended, those weighing in on social media on the side of Israel included Bill Maher, Howard Stern and Roseanne Barr. And Creative Community for Peace, a pro-Israel activist org, released a petition with 200 names in support of Israel. Sylvester Stallone, Seth Rogen, Minnie Driver and Arnold Schwarzenegger were among the signatories, as were several top studio execs.
Adalah-NY, the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel, accuses CCFP of being in bed with Israeli right-wing political interests.
New York, NY, September 2, 2014 - On August 23, the Los Angeles group Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) released a widely reported on statement in Billboard Magazine - “200 Hollywood Heavyweights Support Israel.” What was not reported is that CCFP is a “creative” front group for the right-wing, pro Israeli settler nonprofit StandWithUs, that has a close relationship with the Israeli government. Though CCFP carefully avoids explaining this on their website and materials, CCFP is the same legally-registered nonprofit as StandWithUs (SWU), and, as of October 2013, operated from within SWU’s LA office.
Felice Gelman from Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel commented, “We wonder if CCFP explained to the Hollywood luminaries who signed its statement, like Ziggy Marley and Sarah Silverman, that its apolitical message of ‘art building bridges for peace’ is actually a sanitizing front for the right-wing, pro-settler organization StandWithUs, that has deep ties to the Israeli government? We are also concerned that US media covering the statement did not report on who CCFP really is.”
Protest the Hebron Settlers’ Manhattan Fundraiser: Stand Up Against Racism & Violence
The Hebron Fund has scheduled the “Hebron Aid Flotilla,” a pleasure cruise to raise funds for illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Hebron, Palestine.
Such settlements are one of the main obstacles to peace in the region. Hebron has also been the site of some of the most egregious and racist attacks on Palestinian civilians – men, women and children. There will be a silent picket in protest against the fundraiser.