The crowds were greeted by Israeli music which procured nostalgia and anticipation as attendees streamed into the massive, tripartite hall. The 10th Annual JNF Breakfast invited Jews of all professions, backgrounds and affiliations to indulge in a gourmet breakfast, while presenting on their contributions to Israeli society and to Israeli-American relations.
Despite the fact that doors opened at 6.45am, nearly 1,400 people attended, a great contrast to the first year which included just 40 people.
The event was sponsored by the law firm Lurie and Seltzer, who helped raise funds to support “the land and people of Israel.” Barak Lurie, board member of the Los Angeles division of JNF, called the event “a great success” given the volume of attendees. The goal was to raise a billion dollars towards a ten year campaign to transform Israel.
Israel’s Consul General in Los Angeles, David Siegel, was the first to speak and he talked about Chanukah being a season of miracles. He explained that Chanukah reminds us of the hope that was invested in a small canister of oil. This hope has become reawakened into a modern day miracle—the rebuilding of the Jewish homeland. As of now, we have the miracle of Israel’s Arrow 3 System which intercepts missiles beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. We also have the miracle of Israel’s sustainable water, and many other modern day miracles flourish before our very eyes.
The Consul General elaborated on JNF’s role in expanding Israel’s indispensability to the U.S. Siegel highlighted JNF’s role in assisting the U.S. in efforts towards water conservation, cybersecurity, ecosystem conservation, technological innovation and economic development. Siegel further spoke about Israel’s critical role in the Middle East in combatting the grip of modern terrorism.
The featured speaker was Dennis Prager whose address required him to skip the first segment of his nationally syndicated radio show. Prager tried to justify why the Jews are the chosen people and explained that it is by virtue of the difficult mission that we carry. If you are not religiously inclined, how do you explain Jew hatred? This hatred, he insisted, is synonymous with hatred of the state of Israel.
Why is Israel an isolated nation, singled out obsessively as the object of scornful detestation? The Chinese see themselves as the center of the world, and the Japanese believe they are the land of the rising sun. No one hates them for this. Despite being one of the smallest nations in the world, Jews and Israel have aroused a great degree of enmity throughout history. Prager noted that, “We are hated for that doctrine because they believe it. There is no other explanation.”
The father of Saeed Faroukh, the terrorist in the San Bernadino massacre, has publicly confirmed his sons’ obsession with Israel. Prager noted, ‘That’s all you needed to know about him. You know his entire moral structure.” Prager reiterated that Islamic terrorism is not a Jewish problem. Not only are these terrorists a danger to Jews but they are also a danger to humanity.
Prager shared an interesting parable that summarizes history. A miner sees a canary has died of toxic fumes. Now, the miner who thinks the noxious fumes are just the canary’s problem, will die as well. The miner who thinks that the gases are the canary’s fault is also a dead man. So it was with Nazi Germany where the German people were hurt by the war more than other countries such as England and Scandinavia. So it is with countries that breed hatred of Israel and terror. If they don’t battle the disease of terror from within, they will be confronted with it themselves.
Prager noted that even though the academia breeds intolerance against Israel, Jews continue to advocate and support the sending of their children to university. If parents insist on sending their children, they ought, at minimum, to maintain a gap year after high school so that the young formidable minds can recognize the inherent falsity of anti-Israeli verbiage and formulate their own opinions.
Prager described college campuses as moral wastelands full of anti-Israel rancor. He recalled how in a famous Oxford University Forum, he was invited to debate on, “Hamas or Israel: Who is the greater threat to peace in the Middle East?” His opponent was none other than an Israeli professor. He figured the topic was absurdly pro-Israel and yet the students voted against Israel, 250 to 150, on whether Israel is a great threat to peace in the Middle East.
The apartheid lie is, today, our generations’ ‘blood libel’ equivalent, he proclaimed. He quoted a black member of South African parliament who appeared in Prager University, an online database of 5 minute segments conducted by Prager with visiting guests. The Parliament member spoke with disgust against the apartheid claims, “You cheapen my suffering under apartheid.” While in Israel, the man needed to be treated at a hospital and he received the same exact service as the Palestinians and Israelis alongside him in the hospital beds.
Finally, Prager concluded with a plea for more Jews to visit Israel. Prager’s recent tour of Israel was a trip enjoyed by 450 Christians and 50 Jews who joined him on the vacation to Israel in the height of the November stabbings. “Just show up,” he contended. “That’s what you have to do right now more than anything else.”