A fundraising dinner organised by Friends of the Israel Defence Forces (FIDF) in Los Angeles has raised $38 million, Yedioth Ahronoth has reported. The gala event is held every year and is attended by prominent celebrities, artists and businessmen.
The newspaper noted that a number of American celebrities attended the 2016 dinner last night, including Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert De Niro, television host Larry King, Gerard Butler, Jewish businessman and media mogul Haim Saban, and many others. Soldiers with American backgrounds serving in the Israeli army also attended. Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the founder and head of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, made the single largest contribution of the night of $6 million.
“There are individuals working for Israel on the inside and outside by raising donations via the Zionist lobby abroad and the organisations working for the Israeli army,” specialist in Israeli affairs Bassem Abu Ataya told Arabi 21. “However, this role does not exist in supporting the Palestinian cause despite there being many sympathisers with the Palestinian people. Unfortunately, we have not succeeded in achieving abroad what the Israelis have.”
Yedioth Ahronoth pointed out that each year the financial support for the Israeli army increases thanks to the FIDF. In 2012, for example, it raised $14 million. The Israeli newspaper added that the American celebrities attended the gala without any financial incentive for themselves, but rather solely to support the Israeli army. It did not mention that members of the Israel Defence Forces are believed widely to be guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.