By Sara Powell and Alison Weir
Friends of the Israeli Occupation Forces, which supports Israeli soldiers, hosts fundraising galas all over the U.S. The recent event in Los Angeles, studded with business titans and celebrities, raised over $50 million. As a registered non-profit in the US, contributions are tax deductible, allowing US citizens to write off donations that indirectly support a foreign army.
One would think that one of the world’s most powerful armies wouldn’t need a fundraiser to support its troops, especially since Israel already gets over $10 million per day from the US. Nevertheless, Hollywood mogul and longtime pro-Israel advocate Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl hosted a gala event in Los Angeles on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017 to do just that. This is just one of such events held across the U.S.
The celebrity-filled event was for Friends of the Israel Occupation Forces (FIFD) a U.S. “charity” that even before the fundraiser had assets of over $190 million. Donations to it are tax-deductible in the United States, although it is unclear why donations to benefit a foreign military (and one that regularly raises concerns about war crimes) should reduce one’s financial obligation to the United States. The gala was held despite the IDF’s record of killing civilians, including children.
There were also 17 members of the IOF, all born and raised in the US, who later made Aliyah (immigration to Israeli Entity, considered a birthright for all Jews), flown over for the event.
According to reports, the largest amounts donated were $16.6 million by Oracle co-founder and CTO Larry Ellison, $6 million by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, $5.2 million by GUESS co-founders Paul and Maurice Marciano, and $5 million by host Haim Saban.
FIDF reportedly has more than 150,000 supporters and 20 chapters throughout the United States and Panama.
Barbra Streisand, Larry King, Sylvester Stallone, and Robert de Niro helped raise money at previous FIDF events, according to Variety and Jerusalem Online. Streisand said at a 2014 fundraiser: “This event is always one of the most inspiring and emotional evenings of the year.”
A few months before, Israeli forces had invaded Gaza, killing 2,000 Palestinians, including at least 521 children. More than 10,000 were injured and nearly 500,000 were displaced from their homes. Over 19,000 homes, hospitals, businesses, schools, and places of worship were destroyed or severely damaged.