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A Participant in Milstein Family Foundation Partner Programs Shares Her Story

 

The Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation is proud to partner with Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and Hasbara Fellowships, both pro-Israel campus movements. A participant in these programs, Liat Menna, shares how the Milstein Family Foundation’s support has helped her find a truly strong and rewarding connection to Israel. You can read her post below.

The most rewarding part of advocacy on campus is belonging to a supportive community — a unique group of people who share so much passion and love, who seek truth with a genuine effort to heal the world from bigotry and hate, and who simultaneously celebrate the great diversity, rich culture, and beautiful faith that the Jewish people share.

The Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation (MFF) has been one of the key contributors to this reality. The Foundation has supported countless individuals and groups in an effort to strengthen the Jewish community and homeland. The MFF has worked with Students Supporting Israel (SSI) and enabled Zionist students across college campuses to speak in a united voice in support of Israel, while also educating their respective communities. SSI’s 480% growth in three years is a testament to its need and success. Yet this would not be possible without the partnership of other community organizations, particularly the MFF.

Within the past year, the Foundation has helped tremendously with many SSI programs at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). One example of positive programming that the Foundation supported was Peace of Art, a program hosted in October 2015 by SSI at UCLA and SSI at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). For the event, the pro-Israel group Artists for Israel joined together with SSI to offer a message of peace and understanding on campus. Art, as an international language and healer, connected Jews and non-Jews, and Zionists and non-Zionists, as well as apolitical attendees. The program was a huge success, reaching many diverse students throughout both campuses. Peace of Art is a nationwide campaign, which continues to create bridges and succeed on other campuses across the United States.

The Foundation has also supported programs to empower campus Zionists, such as trips to the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. The MFF sent a group of UCLA delegates to the conference this past March as Milstein Scholars, in partnership with Hasbara Fellowships. It goes without saying that the MFF invests in the future and realizes the potential of students on campus to become the next leaders. Going to the policy conference allows students to learn about so many issues related to Israel and its relationship to the U.S. It allows students to learn, and think of where change is needed and where their effort and work is critical. The policy conference is truly rewarding for the students who attend—they leave with a strong sense of community, having witnessed 18,000 Zionists come together, and with greater passion to contribute to a strong relationship between the U.S. and Israel.

The Zionist community is so lucky to have dedicated and passionate supporters like the MFF. The Foundation empowers us as individuals to each make a small difference—and together to make transformational change.

To learn more about the philanthropic work of Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation, visit http://milsteinff.orgAlso – check out Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation on Facebook!

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The Importance of StandWithUs’ ‘Israel in Focus Conference’

The Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation proudly supportsStandWithUs‘ annual Israel in Focus conference, which brings together college students from across North America at a weekend-long conference in Los Angeles. Over three days, participants learn the skills and facts that will help them better discuss Israel on campus and beyond as well as network with other student leaders and discuss programming and strategy ideas. Brett Cohen, Executive Director of Campus Affairs for StandWithUs, shares how the conference gives its participants confidence and knowledge. You can read his post below. 

Each year, the pro-Israel organization StandWithUs hosts its Israel in Focus conference, teaching college students how to effectively advocate for Israel. The conference is put on in part by the Adam and Gila Milstein Foundation, making it possible for more than 100 students to learn and become Israel activists on campuses across the country.

“When I started college about three years ago, I was excited to finally begin my college experience,” said Tomer Kornfeld, a third-year student at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “But almost as soon as I walked onto campus, I witnessed a ‘die-in’ hosted by none other than Students for Justice in Palestine.” A die-in is one of many anti-Israel smear campaigns in which students lie on the ground and play dead to represent Palestinian deaths.

“It was filled with lies and misinformation,” said Kornfeld. “Even though I knew I had training to deal with this, I wasn’t sure what exact direction I should challenge them from, and with what means. At least not until I attended the Israel In Focus conference.”

At the conference, students participate in debate training, on-campus simulations, and breakout sessions, as well as listen to a variety of pro-Israel speakers. According to Kornfeld, “I left this conference knowing that I was more prepared than ever before.”

University of Michigan student and three-year veteran of the conference Andrew Moss agreed. “At Israel in Focus, I heard from incredible speakers whom I had never heard from, and learned about how to properly network and portray my skill set so that I could make a difference on my own campus,” he said, adding, “more than anything, I learned to be confident in my own abilities as an advocate and to work hard to ensure that my voice was heard. I walked away from the weekend passionate, charged, and ready to face down what would be a year filled with Apartheid Walls, Mock Evictions, and ultimately a divestment hearing.”

When Kornfeld returned to campus, he took over as Israel Engagement Chair for his local Hillel, a position that had never previously existed. He tabled jointly with the LGBTQ club and Republican club, handing out free swag from StandWithUs. His club also hosted speakers and community events, such as the Passover Diversity Seder, inviting all clubs and winning the award for “most outstanding pluralistic event.”

“The tide on our campus has been changing for the better,” concluded Kornfeld. “And all this work couldn’t have been done without finding out what resources were available and gaining the training that I did at the StandWithUs Israel In Focus conference.”

Moss feels the same. “I can honestly say that without Israel In Focus, I would not be anywhere near the advocate and leader that I am today, and that the network I formed at the three conferences that I’ve attended will truly last me a lifetime.”

To learn more about the philanthropic work of Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation, visit http://milsteinff.orgAlso – check out Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation on Facebook!

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Judeo-Christian Values Are Under Attack in the Middle East — and in the Middle of America

Christianity’s home has always been the Middle East. Legend tells that Jesus walked the Sea of Galilee, and the Bible is infused with regional landmarks, history, and descriptors.

Yet Christians are no longer safe in their own birthplace.

The Christian community in the Palestinian territories has declined rapidly. About a century ago, the famed city of Bethlehem was 90 percent Christian, and today that number has dropped to 15 percent. In 2007, the owner of Gaza’s only Christian bookstore was tortured and murdered. Palestinian Christians regularly report feeling persecuted and harassed — sometimes fearing for their life.

The situation gets much worse elsewhere. For the first time in 1,600 years, there are no Christians left in Mosul. This once-thriving Christian community in Iraq has been completely decimated by radical Islamists – like so many others across the Middle East – with thousands fleeing their families’ ancient homes when faced with death or brutal persecution at the hands of ISIS.

The emergence of ISIS has unleashed a particularly grave turn of events for Christians. Just last month, Secretary of State John Kerry and the House of Representatives said that ISIS is committing genocide against Christians, after receiving evidence that the terrorist group has systematically slaughtered Christians “solely for their faith.” However, this represents just another sad chapter in a story of many decades of persecution, violence, and exile, which has left the population of Christians in the Middle East a small fraction of its former size.

Islamic jihadist groups are threatening Lebanese Christians and demanding that they submit to Islam. Lebanon’s Christians, descendants of Aramaic Syriacs, were the majority in the country a mere 100 years ago.

By contrast, Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian community is thriving and growing. It is the one place in the region where Christians can practice their religion freely and openly.

Why do Christians find a welcoming home in Israel? First and foremost, Israel is the one place in the Middle East where democracy is enshrined, where human rights are respected, and where all minorities are protected, including Christians, Druze, Baha’is, and Samaritans. Yet, beyond this, Jews and Christians share a common history, heritage, and set of values.

Indeed, Judeo-Christian principles form the basis for all of Western Civilization – and define the way that we live in America. Today these values are under assault, not only in the Middle East, but also in Europe and America.

The same hateful ideology that causes radical Islamists to massacre Christians in Iraq, bar Christians from citizenship in Saudi Arabia, burn Coptic churches in Egypt and Christian churches in Syria, and causing local Lebanese Christians communities to worry about their existence, comes from a tradition that is now driving the demonization of the world’s one and only Jewish State.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction Movement (BDS) purports to levy economic and political pressure against Israel in order to seek alleged justice for the Palestinian people. In reality, BDS is a global crusade seeded in anti-Semitic and anti-Western hatred that not only blindly attacks Israel, but also attacks our country’s commitment to our core liberal values of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of press.

One of the most insidious features of the BDS movement is its smokescreen as a progressive, social justice movement. For that very reason, it has had great success steadily advancing its poisonous rhetoric of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate across our college campuses, labor unions, corporations, and academic institutions, and even our churches. But we must not be fooled: BDS was born from a radical Islamic ideology in the Middle East that not only hates Judaism, but also Christianity and America. In the same breath, those behind this wave of hate frequently chant Death to Israel and Death to America. For them, Israel is the small Satan. America is the great Satan.

Many of the leaders of the BDS movement are linked to international terrorist groups that oppress Christians in the Middle East. Hatem Bazian – one of the chief architects of BDS and the founder of “Students for Justice in Palestine,” the largest on-campus BDS organization – has been connected to a range of groups shut down by the Justice Department for raising money on behalf of the Hamas terrorist organization and other radical Islamist groups. Bazian has called for a violent uprising, in his words “an Intifada,” not only in Israel but also in the United States, and vocalized support for attacks on American troops in Iraq.

Like Bazian, Purdue University professor Bill Mullen, one of the BDS leaders who lobbied the American Studies Association to adopt a boycott of Israel, also advocates for attacking American ‘imperialism,’ saying, “We can build a still-stronger BDS movement beginning in the name of Palestinian freedom and ending in a permanent blow against American empire.”

Bazian and others not only seek to destroy the Jewish State, but also the Judeo-Christian principles on which it is founded. We have a responsibility to stand up and speak out against this wave of hate, whether it erupts in the Middle East or in the middle of America. We must unite to battle against BDS for the sake of our values, our future, and our very way of life.

This post was co-written by Pastor Carlos Ortiz.

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The Israeli-American Connector

 

As national chairman of the Israeli-American Council, an umbrella group of Americans of Israeli descent living in the US, the Los Angeles-based Adam Milstein sees himself as the "connector" between Israel and the US, and at the forefront of fighting the anti-Israel BDS movement.

"We are the nexus between the Israeli and American people,” the affable Milstein says in an interview withJerusalem Post editors during a recent visit to Jerusalem. "We feel that the Israeli American community is equipped and has the information necessary to lead the fight against BDS." Under Milstein's leadership, the IAC has emerged as a powerhouse. Last June, he helped to organize a summit that brought together philanthropists such as Sheldon Adelson, a Republican, and Haim Saban, a Democrat, as well as some 60 American Jewish organizations at the Campus Maccabees summit in Las Vegas, to "harness the full might of the pro-Israel community to defeat the hate groups now spreading anti-Semitism and lies about the Jewish state on America’s college campuses." "We know that BDS is not just an anti-Semitic movement, but a movement to eradicate the State of Israel," Milstein says, sternly. "I don't think the people of Israel understand that. We live in the US and we see what the leaders of this movement are saying. They're saying that Israel should not exist, and that from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, there should be a free Palestine.”

Milstein, who will be participating in a panel discussion on countering BDS at the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on May 22, strongly believes that the IAC should be leading the battle against the delegitimization of Israel.

"We got a big problem in explaining ourselves when people are not interested in listening. We need to fight back. What Israeli Americans bring to the table is that we are willing to be offensive. We should be at the forefront of the fight against BDS in the United States," he says.

Milstein believes there are some one million Israeli Americans in the US, noting that the IAC reaches about half of them via its 10 nationwide offices.

"We are the fastest growing Jewish organization in the United States," he says. "Our Kenes [conference] started a year and a half ago with 650 people, last year doubled to 1300, and this year we are expecting 2,500 people. AIPAC is an important partner of the IAC – and recognizes that we are the fastest-growing Jewish organization in the US.

The IAC considers itself non-partisan when it comes to both Israel and the US, Milstein says.

"We don't have any political affiliation, not in Israel and not in the United States. We believe that the people of Israel spoke freely and democratically, and we support the people of Israel and the government of Israel, whoever that is. We don't get involved in politics. The same thing in the United States. We don't take sides. So when we have our conferences in DC, we invite people from across the political rainbow." The Haifa-born Milstein, 64, moved with his wife, Gila, from Israel to Los Angeles in 1981, initially to get his masters' degree in business administration at the University of South California. But they kept postponing their return, he became a successful real-estate investor, and so they stayed. Fifteen years ago, they established the philanthropic Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, and today they have three daughters, the last one of whom was born in the US, and three grandchildren.

"We set out to do whatever we can to strengthen the State of Israel, the Jewish people and obviously the strong connection between them, which makes each one of them stronger," he says. "Everything that we do in the foundation, in our personal lives and in the IAC is really to accomplish those two goals." One such project is Sifriyat Pijama B'America (or the Hebrew PJ Library, as it is affectionately called), which delivers free books in Hebrew every month to the children of Israeli families living in the US.

"We started in 2011 with a thousand families, and today we're reaching 18,000 families nationwide on a monthly basis," Milstein says. "The aim was to strengthen Hebrew, Jewish values, and the Israeli American community and today we have expanded the idea through partnering with 200 different Jewish organizations, from schools, JCCs and federations. Sifriyat Pijama B’America is a great story. It paved the way for the IAC. Wherever I go, people tell me, 'You changed my life!'" The idea to establish the IAC (first called the Israel Leadership Council) began after a pro-Israel rally organized by then-Israeli consul-general Ehud Danoch during the Second Lebanon War in 2006. When he noticed the lack of Israelis, Danoch approached a group of businessmen, including Milstein, with a mission to begin a philanthropic organization to engage Israelis living in the US.

"We developed the concept to reach the Israeli community in Los Angeles to become more connected to Israel, to come to the rallies, to help Israel in the case of emergency, but over time, it developed into something much, much bigger than we envisioned," Milstein says. "Our mission today is to reach Israeli-Americans wherever they may be in the US, and unite them into one organization that is very big, very influential and very philanthropic. We understand the challenges that the Israeli people face and we live in America. There's nobody better than us to make the connection between the two people. In this respect, we want to reach out to Latinos, and Christians and Evangelicals and African Americans, and connect with them on mutual interests, in order to make a strong connection between the American people and the Israeli people." Milstein says he is fortunate enough to devote about 80 percent of his time today to philanthropic projects.

"Gila and I wanted to be active philanthropists, and not just write out checks," he said. "It's really everything from A to Z. You have an idea, you want to build a plan, you want to see it come to fruition. You put money in it and you put time into it, and you use all your resources to make ideas happen." Among other things, they bring Jewish and non-Jewish campus leaders to the annual AIPAC conference, and send 40 non-Jewish students annually to Israel on a program similar to Birthright.

Milstein makes a point of maintaining contact with the students after the programs, and he believes some of them will be the leaders of the future.

He says he is motivated by the belief conveyed to him by his modern Orthodox business partner that "whatever we give, God gives us back ten times more," and his desire to keep his own daughters and their families connected to Judaism and Israel.

"I have created my own kind of philanthropy over the years, and I have gotten the reputation that I am some kind of Jewish connector, because I'm funding some 100 organizations and I know who operates in every field," he says, with a knowing smile. "If there is a mission, I know who can help me, and who is irrelevant.”

Milstein sits on the board of several organizations, including what he calls one of the best Israel advocacy groups, StandWithUs, and is always on the lookout for new projects.

"People with ideas come to me, and if I like the ideas, I fund them, often with huge success," he says, taking out his cellular phone. "For example, there is this new phone application called Talk Israel. You download it, it asks you what subject you are interested in, and it sends you articles and videos about the things that you like, which you can share on your social media channel by a push of a button."

 

 

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Milstein Family Foundation Partners with TAMID: A Participant’s Story

Posted by Hadas Sella, the Milstein Family Foundation's Executive Director.

The Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation is a proud supporter of TAMID Group, a nonprofit organization that develops the professional skills of undergraduate students through hands-on interaction with the Israeli economy. A participant in TAMID’s recent Consult LA competition, Daniel Newman, shares how the program has influenced his life. You can read his post below.

I’ve been interested in Israeli innovation since childhood.  Growing up, I learned about PillCam, MobileEye, Intel Israel, and many more companies that have impacted millions of lives around the world. As I grew older, I dreamt of finding a way to connect my two biggest passions, business and Israel. When I arrived at USC, I finally found that dream: TAMID.

As a freshman, I registered for my first case competition, TAMID’s Consult LA, to gauge my interest in business and consulting. The strategy we developed aimed to grow Wix.com’s market share in the web design international market, allowing Wix to continue leading in this ever-changing sector. I was completely shocked and honored when the judges announced us as the first place team.

I always knew Israel was advanced, but TAMID and Consult LA have truly opened my eyes to the extraordinary innovation that Israel fosters every day. Consult LA left a lasting impact on me, as I went on to declare a second major in Business Administration. It taught me the true possibilities that can stem from the Israeli economy, and I made sure to attend the AIPAC Policy Conference to advocate on behalf of our special Silicon Valley halfway across the world. Most importantly, TAMID in its entirety has showed me the value of teamwork and great leadership. This experience helped establish my personal foundation as I went on to run a successful campaign to be a school-wide elected Senator.

It was amazing to see the TAMID Group at USC team up with the TAMID Group at UCLA to produce such an engaging event. As I look back, I’m exceedingly appreciative I got the chance to participate, and I’m eagerly counting down the days until I can expand my knowledge in the field of innovation once again. I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to the Millstein Foundation for making Consult LA a reality, supporting our phenomenal TAMID chapter, and for having such a monumental impact on my life.

To learn more about the philanthropic work of Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation, visit http://milsteinff.orgAlso – check out Adam Milstein and the Milstein Family Foundation on Facebook!

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Israelis and Evangelicals Allying to Defeat BDS

“For Zion’s sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her triumph go forth as brightness, and her salvation as a torch that burneth.” Isaiah 62:1 (The Israel Bible™)

There are nearly one million Israelis living in the United States forming roughly one third of the entire pro-Israel Jewish camp. However, Adam Milstein, chairman of the Israeli-American Council (IAC), hopes to have an even larger voice in support of Israel, by connecting Israelis living in America with Evangelical Christian Zionists.

Sitting down with Breaking Israel News, Milstein explained that the IAC sees the Evangelical community as natural allies in the fight for Israel. “We share the same values, the same beliefs and share a common enemy.”

While the American Jewish establishment has been slow in accepting the friendship and support of the Christian Zionist community, Milstein sees the IAC differently: “Israelis are more pragmatic”.

The real estate entrepreneur and philanthropist is one of the leading voices in the fight against BDS through his prolific presence on Social Media. Milstein was named one of the 25 most influential people on ‘Jewish Twitter’ and writes a regular column for the Huffington Post.

“I look at BDS as a movement to eradicate the State of Israel. It’s not about the economy. They want to destroy us,” Milstein told Breaking Israel News.

However, Milstein’s warning about BDS takes the argument a step further. He has used his platform on social media to call out notorious leaders of BDS for not only their anti-Semitic vitriol, but their animosity towards America.

“BDS leaders hate America’s leadership role around the world,” Milstein wrote in the Huffington Post, quoting Purdue University professor Bill Mullen, who said, “We can build a still-stronger BDS movement beginning in the name of Palestinian freedom and ending in a permanent blow against American empire.”

Milstein warned, “BDS leaders hate America’s democracy – and have even called for violent attacks to overturn our democratic system.” He cited Berkeley Professor Hatem Bazian, the founder of Students for Justice in Palestine who incited a San Francisco rally, who said, “Are you angry? Well, we’ve been watching intifada in Palestine, we’ve been watching an uprising in Iraq, and the question is that what are we doing? How come we don’t have an intifada (armed struggle) in this country…and it’s about time that we have an intifada in this country that change[s] fundamentally the political dynamics in here…They’re going to say [that] some Palestinians are being too radical; well, you haven’t seen radicalism yet!”

For these reasons, it’s a mistake to see BDS as a Jewish problem, claims Milstein.

Of late, Milstein has expanded his network from the influential Jewish mega donors such as Sheldon Adelson and Chaim Saban, with whom he co-founded the Campus Maccabees in June 2015.

For his most recent article, Milstein joined forces with Pastor Carlos Ortiz and co-authored “A Common Fight: Why Christians and Jews are Coming Together to Defeat Hate and Intolerance”.

In the article, the Israeli-American Jew and the Hispanic Pastor warn, “We must not be fooled: BDS was born from a radical Islamic ideology in the Middle East that not only hates Judaism, but also Christianity and America.”

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A Common Fight: Why Christians and Jews are Coming Together to Defeat Hate and Intolerance

By Pastor Carlos Ortiz and Adam Milstein

For the first time in 1,600 years, there are no Christians left in Mosul. This once-thriving Christian community in Iraq has been completely decimated by radical Islamists – like so many others across the Middle East – with thousands fleeing their families’ ancient homes when faced with death or brutal persecution at the hands of ISIS.

The emergence of ISIS has been a particularly grave turn of events for Christians. Just last month, Secretary of State John Kerry and the House of Representativessaid that ISIS is committing genocide against Christians, after receiving evidence that the terrorist group has systematically slaughtered Christians “solely for their faith.” However, this represents just another sad chapter in a story of many decades of persecution, violence, and exile, which has left the population of Christians in the Middle East a small fraction of its former size, including in the Palestinian territorieswhere the numbers of Christians are dwindling rapidly.

Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian community is thriving and growing. It is the one place in the region where Christians can practice their religion freely and openly.

Why do Christians find a welcoming home in Israel? First and foremost, Israel is the one place in the Middle East where democracy is enshrined, where human rights are respected, and where all minorities are protected, including Christians, Druze, Baha’is, and Samaritans. Yet, beyond this, Jews and Christians share a common history, heritage, and set of values.

Indeed, Judeo-Christian principles form the basis for all of Western Civilization – and define the way that we live in America. Today these values are under assault, not only in the Middle East, but also in Europe and America.

The same hateful ideology that causes radical Islamists to massacre Christians in Iraq, to bar Christians from citizenship in Saudi Arabia, to burn Coptic churches Egypt and Christian churches in Syria, comes from a tradition that is now driving the demonization of the world’s one and only Jewish State.

The Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction Movement (BDS) purports to levy economic and political pressure against Israel in order to seek alleged justice for the Palestinian people. In reality, BDS is a global crusade seeded in anti-Semitic and anti-Western hatred that not only blindly attacks Israel, but also attacks our country’s commitment to our core liberal values of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press.

One of the most insidious features of the BDS movement is its smokescreen as a progressive, social justice movement. For that very reason, it has had great success steadily advancing its poisonous rhetoric of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate across our college campuses, labor unions, corporations, and academic institutions, and even our churches. But we must not be fooled: BDS was born from a radical Islamic ideology in the Middle East that not only hates Judaism, but also Christianity and America. In the same breath, those behind this wave of hate frequently chant Death to Israel and Death to America. For them, Israel is the small Satan. America is the great Satan.

The top-listed signatory on the foundational document for today’s BDS Movement -a declaration issued in 2005 – is the Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, which includes representatives of terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Fatah, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Many of the leaders of the BDS movement are linked to international terrorist groups that oppress Christians in the Middle East. Hatem Bazian – one of the chief architects of BDS and the founder of “Students for Justice in Palestine,” the largest on-campus BDS organization – has been connected to a range of groups shut down by the Justice Department for raising money on behalf of the Hamas terrorist organization and other radical Islamist groups. Bazian has called for a violent uprising, in his words “an Intifada,” not only in Israel but also in the United States, and vocalized support for attacks on American troops in Iraq.

Like Bazian, Purdue University professor Bill Mullen, one of the BDS leaders who lobbied the American Studies Association to adopt a boycott of Israel, also advocates for attacking American ‘imperialism,’ saying, “We can build a still-stronger BDS movement beginning in the name of Palestinian freedom and ending in a permanent blow against American empire.”

Bazian and others not only seek to destroy the Jewish State, but also the Judeo-Christian principles on which it is founded. We have a responsibility to stand up and speak out against this wave of hate, whether it erupts in the Middle East or in the middle of America. Christians and Jews must unite to battle against BDS for the sake of our values, our future, and our very way of life.

Originally appears in The Huffington Post

Podcast: Adam Milstein & Dennis Prager

Adam and Dennis discuss the alliance between the U.S. and Israel. Dennis Prager is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host, columnist, author, and public speaker.

On mobile? Listen HERE

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The Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2015

In honor of The Algemeiner’s 3rd annual JEWISH 100 Gala, we are delighted to unveil the third Algemeiner Jewish 100 list of the top one hundred individuals who have positively influenced Jewish life this past year. Before you work your way through this exciting list, we wanted to first share some of the thoughts that we discussed as we developed this endeavor. If we could group these ideas together, the first would be about creating lists, in general; then, what’s unique about lists and Judaism; some finer points differentiating our honorees from the organizations they lead; and some important reflections on all those every day and anonymous-to-us heroes we also want to celebrate without ever knowing their names. And, of course, to thank everyone involved with the creating of the list and who worked hard to put together our gala this year.

On Lists

There are lists, and there are lists. From the Forbes 400 to the TIME 100, we are witness today to a proliferation of many lists in various magazines and newspapers. The New Yorker even made a list of The Hundred Best Lists of All Time! Lists have begun spreading in the Jewish media as well. It seems that in the feeding frenzy of our information overloaded society, categorizations and listings get our attention by presumably helping us make sense of the data flooding our psyches. Lists also carry an element of sensationalism — who made the list, who didn’t — feeding the hunger for competition — yet another staple of our superficial times. No wonder we don’t find such popularity contests waged in earlier centuries; living as desert nomads or inside of a shtetl, where everyone knew virtually no one else but their neighbors by name (for good or for bad), did not exactly lend itself to creating a top ten list of favorites. This is an exclusive product of the communication revolution and the global village it created.

Jewish Lists

Jewish sages, in particular, did not create such lists. Indeed, some actually dismissed the categorization of lists (even of the 13 Principles of Faith of Maimonides, let alone of a list of the “best” one thing or another…) It begs the uneasy question of how one can even attempt to measure the value of a person? Isn’t everyone a hero in some way? On what grounds can we presume to judge who is more valuable then the next? With the J100 list we tried to create something more meaningful, a list aligned with our core mission: the 100 people who have the most positive impact on Jewish life and Israel, men and women, Jew or non- Jew, who have lifted the quality of Jewish life in the past year. Think of it this way: Without these J100 – either the individuals or the organizations they represent – Jewish life would not be at the caliber it is today. Despite the artificial, superficial and sensational nature of any list, we sought to transform the information deluge of our times by using the list to shine a spotlight on those gems in our midst, those people who are making a real difference in other’s lives.

We also seek to inspire and motivate our young and the next generation, our future emerging leaders, in rising to the occasion and perpetuating the highest standards of our proud tradition and legacy – in serving and championing the cause of Jews and Israel. Because, as we know, when the quality of Jewish life is raised, the quality of all lives is raised. However, the most exciting part of our work in choosing the J100, frankly, was sifting through hundreds of candidates and nominees to discover some surprising finalists. It was a joy to see the breadth of all those who merited a mention, to understand some of the great work being performed around the world on behalf of the Jewish people, and to celebrate their victories by bringing this great work to renewed public attention via this endeavor.

Individual vs. Organization

Inevitably, any list recognizing those that have positively influenced Jewish life, will include the “usual suspects,” well known leaders and officials of governments, organizations and institutions. Like it or not, bureaucracy is part of the fabric of our society, feeding and supporting Jewish life around the globe, and it is that fabric that provides strength and cohesion to our disparate Jewish population.

Not all the names on the J100 were included for the same reason. Some are being honored for their personal contributions, other for their work at the organizations or nations they head. Some on the J100 are long established stars, others newcomers, whom are up and coming, people to watch.

Like in any dynamic entity and living organism, we included both stalwart leaders with deep roots holding the foundation, while also introducing new branches that will lead us into the future. This type of list — “The top 100 people who have positively influenced Jewish life” — has its inherent challenges. Firstly, what defines “positive”? What some consider positive, others consider destructive. Jews notoriously disagree on what positive impact means. Fully cognizant of the inherent controversy such a list could stir, we approached the creation of this list with a particular strategy, infused with a sense of humility and respect, to be as all-inclusive as possible. This list should not be seen as an endorsement of anyone or any entity and way of thinking; rather the people on this list are a reflection of the rich and broad spectrum of Jewish life – those who have positively contributed and helped shape the Jewish future.

We want this list to not be a definitive one, but as a type of snapshot and perspective of the Jewish world today. The J100 is far from perfect — but which list of this type would not be? Rather, we want it to serve as a provocateur, challenging us all to think about what we value and consider precious; what we honor as being a positive influence on Jewish life and on Israel.

Anonymous Heroes

Jewish life, now and throughout history, is fraught with innumerable heroes – mostly unsung. A mother unceremoniously bringing up a beautiful family. A quiet nurse attending to the ill. An anonymous philanthropist sending food packages to the needy. The unobtrusive kindergarten teacher lovingly attending to and shaping young lives. Positive influences abound, yet few are called out.

Moreover, the Jewish community is decentralized. A leader in one city or town having major impact on his community may be completely irrelevant in another city. No list – not of 100, not of 1,000 – could capture and do justice to the countless daily acts of heroism and nobility impacting Jews and Israel. There are hundreds of Jewish communities with Rabbis, lay leaders, educators and administrators that are beloved and are transforming their communities. As important as these individuals may be – and they certainly deserve their own list – the J100 does not list these heroes. Instead it focuses on individuals that have global and international impact, and that come from diverse groups – writers, teachers, government officials, organizations. In some ways the J100 should be looked at not as a bunch of disjointed individuals, but as a mosaic – a confluence of many different colors and hues, that create a diverse painting.

Thank You

In the spirit of The Algemeiner, we want this list to lift the quality of our discourse and our standards in seeking out the best within and amongst us. We hope you enjoy reviewing and studying this list, and we welcome all your feedback, critique and suggestions to be included next year, in what has become our annual tradition at our gala event. Thank you for supporting this great institution and, ultimately, our readers, the Jewish people and friends of the Jewish people whom we serve.

To see the full list, click here.

Disclosure: Algemeiner staff and their immediate families were disqualified for inclusion on the list. Some of the Jewish 100 finalists are friends and associates of the Algemeiner and some are members of the GJCF Tribute Committee. As a media entity with many relationships, the Algemeiner inevitably has many friends and supporters; yet we didn’t feel it fair to disqualify highly qualified candidates simply due to their connection with us. Instead, fully cognizant of that reality, we placed special emphasis on impartiality and objectivity to choose only those that fit the criteria.

Adam Milstein. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Adam Milstein. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Adam Milstein

Chair of Israeli-American Council

Philanthropist Adam Milstein is chair of theIsraeli-American Council, which encourages cooperation between the United States and Israel, and whose stated mission is “to build an active and giving Israeli-American community throughout the United States in order to strengthen the State of Israel, our next generation, and to provide a bridge to the Jewish-American community.”

Some 750,000 people count themselves as Israeli-Americans.

In early 2016, the group announced theformation of a new partner organization — the Israeli-American Nexus (IANexus) — that will focus on advocating to legislative policymakers on behalf of Israelis living in the United States.

For its first major effort, the IANexus plans to muster communal support for the Combating BDS Act of 2016, which was recently introduced in Congress and supports states’ rights to cut ties with companies that boycott Israel.

 

 

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The 25 Most Influential People in the ‘Jewish Twitterverse’

Original post can be found on Ha’aretz by Gabe Friedman

JTA – Ten years ago this week, Twitter was born. Never ones to miss a good conversation, Jews quickly adopted the social network, and they haven’t stopped kibitzing since.

To celebrate the birth of this post-modern Talmud, we’ve updated JTA’s 2009 list of the “100 Most Influential Jewish Twitterers” (which helped a young woman escape her family’s cult-like church, as recounted in the New Yorker. No big deal.)

Our new list — pared down to just the top 25 Twitter mavens — reflects a changed Jewish Twitter world. Among the rabbis, officials, journalists and other machers who made the cut in ’09, the only carryovers are Esther Kustanowitz, a journalist who works with actress Mayim Bialik, and William Daroff, an American Jewish communal leader who now ranks No. 1.

But keep in mind, we changed our methodology.

Compared to 2009, we left more of the analysis to software and didn’t include entities (organizations, media outlets, etc.) on our list — just people. The data analysis was done by Little Bird, a Portland-based “influencer marketing platform” that helps firms reach the right tweeters in the right fields.

So how did we come up with the “Most Influential” list? Using the terms “Jewish” and “Israel,” Little Bird’s algorithm identified a network of 1,000 people who participate most in the Twitter discussion around Israel and Jewish issues. It then ranked those participants based on how many followers they have within the network.

As a bonus, we also generated a list of the 25 participants in the Jewish-Israel discussion who have the most followers overall — yielding some big Jewish names, like Lena Dunham, along with some surprising ones, among them ex-Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson. Call them Guest Stars.

Without further ado, then, here are the biggest influencers in the Jewish Twitterverse.

Most Influential:

1.     William Daroff, The Jewish Federations of North America’s Washington office director, @Daroff

2.     Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, @netanyahu

3.     Avi Mayer, Jewish Agency spokesman, @AviMayer

4.     Danny Ayalon, former Israeli ambassador to the U.S., @DannyAyalon

5.     Peter Lerner, Israel Defense Forces spokesman, @LTCPeterLerner

6.     Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic correspondent, @JeffreyGoldberg

7.     Ron Dermer, Israeli ambassador to the U.S., @AmbDermer

8.     Dan Shapiro, U.S. ambassador to Israel, @AmbShapiro

9.     Rabbi Jason Miller, rabbi, entrepreneur and writer, @RabbiJason

10. Barak Ravid, Haaretz diplomatic correspondent, @BarakRavid

11. Esther Kustanowitz, editorial director of Mayim Bialik’s Grok Nation, @EstherK

12. Avital Leibovich, American Jewish Committee in Israel director, @AvitalLeibovich

13. Lahav Harkov, The Jerusalem Post Knesset correspondent, @LahavHarkov

14. Michael Dickson, StandWithUs executive director, @michaeldickson

15. David Horovitz, The Times of Israel founding editor, @davidhorovitz

16. Arsen Ostrovsky, human rights lawyer and journalist, @Ostrov_A

17. Mark Regev, Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, @MarkRegevPMO

18. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, rabbi, British lord and author, @rabbisacks

19. Shimon Peres, former Israeli president and prime minister, @PresidentPeres

20. Yair Rosenberg, Tablet magazine senior writer, @Yair_Rosenberg

21. Adam Milstein, Israeli real estate investor and philanthropist, @AdamMilstein

22. Reuven Rivlin, Israeli president, @PresidentRuvi

23. Khaled Abu Toameh, Arab-Israeli journalist, @KhaledAbuToameh

24. Peter Beinart, The Atlantic and National Journal contributor and Haaretz correspondent,@PeterBeinart

25. David Haivri, Israeli settler activist, @haivri

As for the top 5 most influential entities, which also happen to top the overall rankings, here they are in descending order: The Jerusalem Post, the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson, Haaretz, the State of Israel and — wait for it — the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Guest Stars:

1.     Bill Clinton, former U.S. president, @billclinton

2.     Lena Dunham, actress, writer, producer and director, @lenadunham

3.     Seth Rogen, actor and comedian, @Sethrogen

4.     Matisyahu, musician, @matisyahu

5.     David Cameron, British prime minister, @David_Cameron

6.     Ben Carson, former Republican presidential candidate, @RealBenCarson

7.     Dmitry Medvedev, Russian prime minister, @MedvedevRussiaE

8.     Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, @netanyahu

9.     HAIM, rock band of three Jewish sisters, @HAIMtheband

10. Ezra Koenig, Vampire Weekend singer, @arzE

11. Ismail Haniyyeh, Hamas senior political leader, @IsmailHaniyyeh

12. Joseph Prince, Singapore’s New Creation Church senior pastor, @JosephPrince

13. Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the U.N., @AmbassadorPower

14. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, prominent rabbi and author, @RabbiShmuley

15. Ravi Zacharias, evangelical Christian author, @RaviZacharias

16. Jean-Luc Trachsel, Swiss entrepreneur, @jltrachsel

17. John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., @AmbJohnBolton

18. Ben Shapiro, journalist, @benshapiro

19. Anne Bayefsky, human rights scholar and activist, @AnneBayefsky

20. Tarek Fatah, author and activist, @TarekFatah

21. Alon Ben-David, Israeli journalist, @alonbd

22. Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles mayor, @ericgarcetti

23. Judy Mozes, Israeli talk show host, @JudyMozes

24. Udi Segal, Israeli journalist, @usegal

25. Ayala Hasson, Israeli TV personality and journalist, @AyalaHasson