By: Lieba Nesis
The American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center held its 35th annual anniversary dinner at the Marriott Marquis Hotel on Sunday December 13, 2017 with cocktails beginning at 5:00 PM. The gala was sold-out weeks in advance with more than 975 people attending this annual happening. The delicious buffet dinner, phenomenal speakers and opulent Viennese table were all available for the bargain basement price of $250 per ticket-practically free in the world of galas. Bet El is a vibrant community of 10,000 people located in the hills of Shomron that has grown into a model neighborhood.
The Orthodox Jewish town is located in the hills north of Jerusalem, east of the Palestinian city of al-Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah. Bet El means “the house of God” in Hebrew and is apparently the place where Jacob dreamed in his sleep of angels ascending and descending a ladder to heaven. Tonight’s dinner had a much more optimistic tone as the Trump administration has a new policy of zero condemnations from the US State Department regarding settlements allowing Bet El to construct a new Gluck IDF Preparatory Academy that will total 43,000 square feet and consist of two enormous edifices that will house an additional 70 cadets before they enlist in the elite units of the army. Eugen Gluck, President and Chairman of the Board, is a major supporter of Bet El donating millions to its construction.
Under the Obama administration, which failed to veto UN Resolution 2334-which demanded an immediate halt to all Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem-the existence of communities like Bet El were in jeopardy. Tonight the honorees and participants were elated at the 300 new homes which have been approved for construction by Prime Minister Netanyahu. One of the great supporters of Bet El, David Friedman, is currently UN Ambassador to Israel. Who would have thought in just one year the topic would be “when” not “if” the Israeli embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
United States Representative Ron DeSantis said he recently led a small delegation to Israel to find a site to move the embassy to and was cautiously optimistic that in the next week the President would declare that Jerusalem was the historic undivided capital of Israel. He decried the passage of Resolution 2334 under Obama which stated that the Western Wall was “occupied territory.” Reiterating the extremely pro-Israel stance of this administration was Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, one of the evening’s keynote speakers, who commented that even President Truman who recognized the State of Israel in May 1948 refused to move the embassy to Jerusalem.
Bolton, introduced by handsome Fox and Friends anchor Pete Hegseth, gave an alarming speech remarking that in a short period of time North Korea will be able to hit any target in the continental US. He also said our intelligence in North Korea was very poor but it was clear the North Koreans and Iran have been sharing information for the past 25 years remarking that President Bush’s referral to them as the “axis of evil” was no mistake. Referring to the increasing nuclear threat he said, “In Iran you have a rich eager buyer with a poor eager seller” present in North Korea-a combustible combination making North Korea a significant global threat. He also remarked that the ISIS caliphate has all but fallen under the leadership of Trump with Iran now gaining hegemony in the Middle East through its connections to Assad and other pro-terrorist governments. On a more positive note Bolton was hopeful that if the US redoubled its efforts and was united in its strength they would be able to contain the burgeoning threats that have plagued the Trump administration-a problem Bolton attributed to Obama’s alliance with the Iranian regime.
Eugen Gluck then introduced Israel’s Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked who he was hopeful would be the next Golda Meir while reiterating that Bet El was a microcosm of the essence of Israel. Shaked remarked that Israel was commemorating 100 years since the signing of the Balfour declaration with its international status stronger than ever. She urged President Trump to “just do it” referencing the move of the embassy to Jerusalem. Awards were also presented to Jewish heroes, Dr. Joseph Frager, Mechel and Sima Lieber and the Moskowitz family with a special commemoration held for NYS Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz who was a great behind-the-scene supporter of Bet El and recently died of cancer.
Dr. Joseph Frager, recipient of the Shomer Eretz Yisrael Award, is one of the leading advocates in lobbying local politicians and Capitol Hill on behalf of Israel. He dedicated his award to Michael Simanowitz and stressed Bet El’s importance in leading the Jewish people’s return to the hotly contested land of Judea and Sumaria. Mechel and Sima Lieber, Keter Torah Awardees, are stalwart members of the Flatbush community and fervent believers in the Bet El institutions. Mechel says his heart “lives and lies in Eretz Yisrael”.
Laurie Moskowitz who received the Bet El Builders Medallion award on behalf of her philanthropic parents Irving and Cherna Moskowitz, comes from a heroic family who build Jewish institutions and housing projects in Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and throughout the country. They were one of the first supporters of the Gush Emunim movements.
As the evening concluded at the early hour of 8:30 PM, an elaborate Viennese table of Halvah, ice cream and dozens of cakes was set up outside where guests with likeminded viewpoints gathered to socialize. I had the opportunity to speak to one of the leaders of Bet El, Baruch Gordon, who flew in from Israel six weeks ago to prepare for this dinner. Gordon was excited at the prospect of a new President “who has strengthened the relationship with Israel and recognizes the inalienable rights of the Jewish people to the entirety of their homeland”-bless you Donald Trump.