Israellycool » FIDF Down Under Punditry in the Middle East Mon, 10 Aug 2015 06:47:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Simon Cowell Donates And Raises Money For The IDF (Updated) Wed, 23 Oct 2013 20:08:24 +0000 Simon Cowell has donated a fair bit of money to Friends of the IDF. With Lionel Richie performing.

Haim Saban and Simon Cowell enjoyed their evening at a Friends of the IDF Western Region Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

Saban and Cowell donated $2.3 million and $50,000 respectively, and the event raised NIS 70 million in total.

The almost 1,200 attendees enjoyed a rare singing performance from Lionel Richie.

‘The Jewish and Israeli community in Los Angeles appreciates and embraces the soldiers of the IDF, and will continue to do everything [possible] in order to give thanks to them and strengthen them in whatever is needed,’ said Saban.

But Cowell didn’t stop there. He was even willing to embarrass himself by singing the Power Rangers theme song for – wait for it – $1 million.

List updated.

Bar would be proud.

Or would she?

Update: According to Hollywood Jew, Cowell also plans to visit Israel later this year.

Big name attendees were also scarcer this year, though Israeli mega-producer Avi Lerner was there, as was Electus founder Ben Silverman. The shiniest star in the whole lot, though, was the real “American Idol,” Simon Cowell, who sat gleaming in a corner with his very pregnant girlfriend (Jewish divorcee Lauren Silverman, with whom Cowell had an affair while she was still married) and from where he publicly pledged $50,000 to the Israel Defense Forces.

That’s right: Simon Cowell, critic extraordinaire, is officially a Zionist; and, on his way out of the gala, told me his plans to visit Israel later this year.

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Alice Walker’s Freudian Slip Sat, 29 Jun 2013 19:58:58 +0000 In an interview with TimeOut Chicago, author and reptile afficionado Alice Walker answers a question regarding her BDSholing:

In terms of wanting artists to boycott Israel, oftentimes the counterargument is that arts can bridge the divide where there’s political strife. In your opinion, is this a case that calls for more drastic measures?

Yes, we’ve tried everything, and everything has universally failed us on this issue. Artists have a responsibility to speak and to act when governments fail, and if we don’t do that, we really deserve the world we get. I was very happy when Stevie Wonder declined singing for the JDL [Jewish Defense League]. But it’s really about your own spirit and your own soul and what you do with yourself. I love my own culture. I love my African-American culture very deeply, and I know it deserves to be honored. You have to be aware that people are suffering unjustly, and given our own history—in remembrance of our struggle, which isn’t over—we have a duty to stand for the people who are being treated like our parents and grandparents and children were treated.

Stevie Wonder declined singing for Friends of the IDF, not the Jewish Defense League, which is considered a terrorist group by some including the FBI. The JDL has nothing to do with the IDF.

My guess is Walker is not knowingly lying – it is too easy to refute her claim – but perhaps by conflating the Jewish Defense League with Israel’s national army, she is revealing that to her, Jews are synonymous with Israel.

Perhaps this is yet another indication that her opposition to Israel stems more from a loathing of Jews than anything else.

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Still Troubled Waters Wed, 20 Mar 2013 21:22:21 +0000 In this recent interview with The Electronic Intifada, antisemite and BDShole Roger Waters reveals he is in talks with other musicians to boycott Israel, and intimates he was the reason Stevie Wonder backed out of last year’s Friends of IDF annual gala.

Roger Waters is the most famous rock star to have publicly supported the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

A founder of Pink Floyd — a British rock group which has sold more than 250 million albums — Waters decided to become active in the international Palestinian solidarity movement following a trip to the West Bank in 2006. Shocked by the oppression that he witnessed, Waters spray-painted the words “we don’t need no thought control” — a line from one of his biggest hits — on Israel’s wall.

More recently, Waters has served as a juror on the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, an initiative aimed at drawing attention to how Western governments and companies aid Israel’s violations of international law. In that capacity, he addressed the United Nations during November last year.

Visiting Brussels for the tribunal’s final session, Waters said he would explore the idea of releasing a single urging musicians not to perform in Israel. He intends to discuss this project with Steven Van Zandt, the guitarist in Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, who assembled many well-known musicians to record Sun City, a protest song against apartheid in South Africa during the 1980s.

Waters spoke to The Electronic Intifada’s David Cronin.

David Cronin: Do you think the campaign for a cultural boycott of Israel is having an impact?

Roger Waters: I’d like to think that it was.

My experience when I speak to people to and say “don’t go” is either they reply “that sounds good” or they say “don’t you think it’s better to go there?”

Well, no, I fucking don’t.

I think that the kind of boycott that was implemented against the apartheid regime in South Africa back in the day is probably the most effective way to go because the situation is that the Israeli government runs an apartheid regime in Israel, the occupied territories and everywhere else it decides. Let us not forget that they laid waste to most of Lebanon around the time I started getting involved in this issue. They destroyed airports, hospitals, any public buildings they could.

They are running riot and it seems unlikely that running over there and playing the violin will have any lasting effect.

DC: Have you personally asked any fellow musicians to boycott Israel?

RW: Yeah, I have.

DC: Would you prepared to say who those musicians were?

RW: No, I wouldn’t be. It was entirely private between me and them.

All I would say is that part of my involvement here in the Russell Tribunal today and tomorrow is that I am about to publish an open letter written to all my colleagues in the music industry, asking them to join me in the BDS movement. This is not just to colleagues in the UK or US but around the world.

What caused me to write this public letter was an affair where Stevie Wonder was hired to play a gala dinner for the Israeli Defense Forces on 6 December last year. I wrote a letter to him saying that this would be like playing a police ball in Johannesburg the day after the Sharpeville massacre in 1960. It wouldn’t be a great thing to do, particularly as he was meant to be a UN ambassador for peace. It wasn’t just me. Desmond Tutu also wrote a letter.

To his eternal credit, Stevie Wonder called them [the gala’s organizers] up and said “I didn’t quite get it” [and canceled the performance]. This happened one week after I made a speech to the UN. Neither of these events were reported anywhere in the mainstream media in the United States of America.

Both events were almost as important as [TV personality] Kim Kardashian’s bra size. The way they are not being reported means the media must be under instructions from somewhere not to report these things to the American public, on what grounds I cannot guess.

DC: How do you feel about the support for Israel offered by David Cameron’s government in your native Britain?

RW: Cameron has absolutely adopted Tony Blair’s wolf’s clothing that he [Blair] adopted so eagerly and happily when he went to war in Iraq on George Bush’s coat-tails.

Cameron is entirely content for Great Britain to be a satellite nation of the US. None of us can quite understand why.

There is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. The EU’s diplomatic emissaries [in the West Bank] joined together [recently]. They protested the settlements and asked for sanctions. This is almost unprecedented. But the governments of these emissaries have done nothing and continue to do nothing.

I have been very disillusioned with UK foreign policy really since [Harold] Wilson [a Labor Party prime minister during the 1960s and 1970s]. It was such a political turnabout from [Labor leaders] Keir Hardie and [Clement] Attlee and the principles of British socialism. It was a precursor for taking over the country with the appalling monetarist strategies of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. I’m quite ashamed of the way we have behaved. The UK has been royally fucking the world over for centuries — not least you bog Irish.

DC: One of your fellow jurors on the Russell Tribunal, Stéphane Hessel, died recently. Did you know him well?

RW: I knew him very little. What a brave, eloquent, good-hearted, brilliant man.

DC: As a musician, have you had a chance to check out the vibrant Palestinian hip-hop scene?

RW: I haven’t. But if it thrives, I can’t find anything negative about that, so long as it’s not about bling and booty and wearing a baseball cap sideways. So long as it’s about protest and realism, rather than the flight from realism that hip-hop is in the US.

DC: In your speech to the UN, you paid tribute to Rachel Corrie. Is there anything you would like to say about Rachel Corrie, given that it’s the tenth anniversary of her murder?

RW: Her parents attended the [Russell Tribunal] session in New York [last year]. It was very moving.

DC: Do you support the hunger strikes being undertaken by a number of Palestinian prisoners?

RW: The thing about political prisoners is: it doesn’t matter if you are in the Maze [in Northern Ireland] or in a prison somewhere in Israel, your options are very limited. Hunger strikes or dirty protests are some of the very few options to bring attention to your specific predicament.

I respect the brave men and women who go to those lengths. As we know, hunger-striking is not like going on a diet. It is real, dangerous and painful. You don’t do it without compelling reasons.

All in all he’s still a brick in the wall prick.

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Stevie Wouldn’t But Chaka Khan Sun, 09 Dec 2012 18:54:54 +0000 The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) annual dinner went ahead last week, and while Stevie Wonder was not there, we got Chaka Khan instead!

Spirits were barely diminished at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) annual dinner Thursday night, a week after headliner Stevie Wonder’s provocative and public pullout. More than 1,000 Israel supporters turned out at the Hyatt Regency in Century City for the annual gala hosted by Haim and Cheryl Saban.

The four-and-a-half hour evening steered by “Seinfeld” veteran Jason Alexander included moving, personal presentations by IDF soldiers and raised a reported $11.5 million from attendees, many of them Israeli-American business and entertainment leaders, including Avi Arad, head of Marvel Entertainment, film producer Avi Lerner, real estate developer Izek Shomof, actress and producer Noa Tishby and Oracle business magnate Larry Ellison.

Businessman and producer David Matalon offered the best line of the evening when, during the live auction-style fundraiser, he pledged $8,000 to the FIDF and, “in honor of Stevie Wonder, another $2,000.”

“I’ll have him call you to tell you he loves you,” Haim Saban quipped from the stage.

Other than that moment of levity, the silence surrounding Wonder’s cancelation continued, although emcee Alexander seized an opportunity to share some unusually candid remarks about the complexities of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. In a lengthy and serious address, he talked about his love for both Israelis and Palestinians and how his work with the organization One Voice has exposed him to both sides of the conflict.

“This conflict continues because of the inability of leaders to break through this impasse and find a way to peace,” he said.

Knowing before whom he stood — a predominantly Israeli-American and Jewish crowd – Alexander was careful to balance his pro-Palestinian remarks with strong supportive messages about Israel. The most vigorous applause came when he referred to the Jewish state as the most “maligned, underappreciated and hardest challenged nation on the planet,” and expressed admiration for its soldiers.

“I believe that the men and women soldiers that defend [Israel] are among the most honorable and noble soldiers the world has ever seen,” Alexander said, though he added that sometimes, “they have made mistakes.”

He thanked the crowd for the opportunity to share his thoughts

Throughout the night, Israeli soldiers took to the podium to share their stories, many of them heart-wrenching reminders that even with its military might, the IDF has suffered profound losses. Yoni Asraf, an American who enlisted in the IDF, told the crowd how he had used his body as a shield in order to protect a fellow soldier during combat, a move that cost him an arm. He was subsequently awarded a medal for his bravery, and he refused to relinquish his post, spending years rehabilitating himself in order to rejoin his unit.

Later, an Egyptian-born mother who imigrated to Israel and lost two of her sons in combat for the IDF, delivered an astoundingly resilient message. “I am not broken,” she said. “You cannot break a spirit.”

After her emotional speech, host Cheryl Saban embraced her, while her husband looked on with misty eyes.

“As a mother myself, your story has touched me. Everyone in this room is inspired by you,” Cheryl said.

Haim Saban used his pulpit time to talk about the values of the IDF, portraying an army of ideals, of “courage, compassion, strength and sacrifice.”

Inspiration rapidly gave way to income, as Saban himself solicited donations to the FIDF from the stage. “The time is always ripe to do right,” he said, quoting Martin Luther King Jr.

Once millions of dollars in pledges had been collected from the crowd, Grammy-winning musician and producer David Foster orchestrated some light entertainment, with performances by “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard and a gold-glitter encrusted Chaka Khan, the Grammy winning “Queen of Funk-Soul,” who sang the hit “I’m Every Woman.”

Foster, who has coordinated the musical entertainment for the FIDF dinner for years, said in an interview that although he has never been to Israel, he has learned a thing or two about Jewish culture from all the dinners.

“I’m not Jewish,” Foster told the crowd. “But I have been circumcised, and I do know Barbra Streisand.”

Meanwhile, here are some photos from the event, which reveal Dolph Lundgren was also there, as well as Jason Alexander’s pet hamster (all photos by Alexi Rosenfeld, AJR Photography).

Update: Here’s video from the event.

Update: More here.

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Stevie’s A Wonder Sun, 25 Nov 2012 18:45:57 +0000 Singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder has no doubt pissed off the BDSholes.

The annual gala of the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) organization will be held on Thursday, December 6, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.

The event will be hosted by Cheryl and Haim Saban and is expected to be attended by more than 1,000 members of the Los Angeles Jewish community. The gala is considered one of the organization’s flagship events and is known to raise millions of dollars.

The world’s leading artists have performed at the event over the years, and this year Saban managed to recruit Stevie Wonder. Last year the audience had the privilege of listening to Barbra Streisand, and the year before they enjoyed a performance by Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli.

According to Haim Saban, “The annual FIDF Western Region Gala has become a tradition and a must-attend event for the Los Angeles Jewish community. The event connects the warm community to the IDF’s soldiers, and this is our opportunity to thank the soldiers who defend the State.”

This is not the first time Stevie has flexed his pro-Israel credentials. In fact, if you Google ‘Stevie Wonder Israel,’ the first result is my pro-Israel celebrities list, on which Stevie is included by virtue of his appearance in 1998’s To Life! America Celebrates Israel’s 50th.

Here’s a performance of his from that event [dodgy video quality warning]

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Putting The ‘Fun’ In Fundraising For The IDF Thu, 14 Jun 2012 18:24:09 +0000 Now here’s an interesting way some are supporting the IDF (hat tip: Norman).

Bonus: Binyamin Netanyahu lookalike at 1:00.

We get the cheerleaders, and the BDS-holes get this.

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