I was only too happy to accept the invitation of my friend Dr. Judea Pearl to attend last week’s commemoration/celebration at the AJU of the 1947 UN vote that created the State of Israel in Palestine. He’s been trying to make this happen for several years, and I was glad to be there to support him and his lovely wife Ruth. Not only was this recognition by the LA Jewish community long overdue, but it had the added benefit of being held on the same day as the shameful vote by the UN to recognize “Palestine” as an observer state. The event was produced by Craig Taubman, the most energetic man I have ever met.
LDS Church leaders publicly and privately expressed their support for Israel at its founding, and President David O. McKay purchased $5000 of Israel Bonds on behalf of the church the year after they were issued. He said that he did this “to show our sympathy with the effort being made to establish the Jews in their homeland.” I am unaware of similar statements or gestures made by senior Mormon leaders in favor of any other country’s independence. In recognition of this history, two prominent LDS leaders accompanied me to the event and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Rabbis Ed Feinstein and David Wolpe, two of my favorite religious leaders, delivered brief remarks, along with Dr. Pearl and Israeli Consul General David Siegel. Although the Vatican did not recognize Israel until 1993, Father Alexei Smith was chosen to speak on behalf of non-Jewish religious leaders. He shared a story of Cardinal Spellman of New York and his private support for Israel that was very touching. Being a Craig Taubman production, the pace was good and the music was great. By the time the crowd joined Noa Dori in a soulful “Hatikvah,” many of us had tears in our eyes.
I believe that the UN vote authorizing the creation of Israel was divinely ordained, and hope that Jewish and Christian communities around the country and the world will begin to set aside time every year in late November to remember this providential act. The LDS Church’s support for the establishment of Israel is yet another witness of the special relationship that exists between Mormons and Jews. It was an honor for me to represent the church at the celebration. Am Yisrael Chai!