The friendship between the United States and Israel remains strong and mutually beneficial despite reports of frosty relations, according to a retired Israeli general.
Retired Brigadier General Yehuda Halevy, speaking July 18 in Monroe, acknowledged the relationship “went through some blips,” citing early tensions between the Obama administration and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“But we need the United States,” said Halevy, now executive vice president of Bar-Ilan University. “We don’t have any other friends. We really only have the United States and let’s face it, the United States needs us. Thank God, the last meeting between the president and prime minister was very successful. There was a kind of rapport.”
Halevy spoke at the annual State of Israel Bonds brunch at the Jewish Congregation of Concordia.
The program was run in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County and raised $370,000 for Israel Bonds, up from last year’s take of $225,000.
Honored during the program were Sylvia Aidikoff, Ethel and Jack Chevlin, and Evelyn and Ascher Goldstein.
Included in the large crowd were Assemblywoman Linda Greenstein (D-Dist. 14) and Rep. Rush Holt (D-Dist. 12).
Halevy, a former worldwide president and CEO of Israel Bonds, touched on a number of subjects, including the settlement freeze set to expire in September, the Gaza flotilla, and the Iranian threat to Israel.
The relationship between the United States and Israel operates on many fronts, said Halevy. American pilots say they are safer on the battlefield because of Israeli improvements to the F-16, he said.
Halevy criticized those in the Arab world who term Jews living in parts of Jerusalem as “settlers.” “Yerushalayim is mentioned 600 times in the Torah and in the Koran, not even once,” he said to strong applause, “and they have the chutzpa to say Yerushalayim belongs to them.”
He said the Israelis “do not have to apologize” for the flotilla incident, in which nine activists died in a violent encounter with Israeli commandos. The commandos who boarded the Turkish-registered ship said they fired in self defense after being met with crowds carrying knives and sticks. The vent caused a breach in Israeli-Turkish relations.
“What is disturbing beyond that is that Turkey is a big ally of the U.S. with whom Israel is very friendly,” he said. “What is also disturbing is that the American administration, instead of condemning Turkey, placated them.”
He called Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “the new Hitler who wants to destroy Israel.”
“But he is not a lunatic,” said Halevy. “He knows what he is doing. We have to be very careful.
“Thank God this is not 1942 and as long as Israel is a strong country there will never be another Holocaust.”
Aidikoff was honored for her many volunteer activities, including her involvement with National Council of Jewish Women and the Jewish Family and Vocational Service of Middlesex County. The Chevlins were honored for their work aiding disabled Israeli soldiers and with the congregation. Evelyn Goldstein is a former president of the synagogue; Ascher rescued Jews in the Holocaust as a member of the resistance and fought in the Israeli War of Independence.