Speakers came out swinging during the second annual Israeli Leadership Council (ILC) gala at the Beverly Hilton on May 12, voicing unwavering support for the Jewish state in light of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and the crisis over housing construction plans in East Jerusalem. The serious tone at the sold-out gathering, which drew influential local Israeli Americans, stood in stark contrast to last year’s jubilant, dance-filled inaugural gala.
John R. Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who was honored for his support of Israel, took sharp aim at Iran’s nuclear weapons program and endorsed a military response to the imminent threat of a nuclear Middle East.
Jacob Dayan, consul general of Israel in Los Angeles, championed an undivided Jerusalem as the eternal capital of the Jewish people on the same night that commemorated the reunification of Jerusalem under Israeli control during the Six-Day War in 1967.
“Until that moment, Israel was like a body without a soul,” Dayan said of the historic victory, now celebrated as an annual national holiday in Israel, Yom Yerushalayim.
ILC board member Naty Saidoff, along with his wife, Debbie, were presented with the Israeli American Leadership Award. During his speech, Saidoff called for a communitywide rally as a show of support for Israel. “StandWithUs will you join us? AIPAC will you be there?” he shouted to the various organizations in attendance.
There are no details yet as to when or where such a rally would take place.
A video presentation highlighting the ILC’s leading role in uniting L.A.‘s Israeli expat community over the past three years screened on an entire wall of the Beverly Hilton’s grand International Ballroom. Among the programs initiated and/or supported by the ILC—a resource-rich, fast-acting Israeli federation of sorts—are Tzofim, or Israeli Scouts; Dor Chadash Los Angeles, for young Israeli American professionals; Moadon Israelim, evenings of Israeli music, culture and entertainment, and Tzav 8, an initiative to mobilize the Israeli community for rallies in support of Israel.
Teenage Israeli Scouts chatted, giggled and texted through the political speeches, but once recording artist Idan Raichel took the stage with his entourage of multiethnic musicians, the rowdy young attendees were captivated. The teens stood at the edge of the stage, camera phones held high, and sang along to the popular ensemble’s every song—whether it was in Arabic, Hebrew, Portuguese or Amharic.
Other guests gradually filled the dance floor, a testimony to the wide appeal of the project’s message of love and tolerance and an illustration of the local community’s still-strong attachment to all things Israeli.