By Stephen E. Lipken
The Second Annual Positively Israel Reception, hosted by Temple Israel Center White Plains (TIC) and Jewish National Fund (JNF) on Thursday, May 31st featured Guest Speaker New York Times op-ed columnist Bret Stephens, his topic “Israel@70: What Does the Future Hold for Israel and the Middle East?” Approximately 310 citizens attended.
“Two years ago, I was a participant on a JNF Young Professionals singles trip to Israel and fell in love—with the work and mission of JNF,” TIC Rabbi Ari Isenberg remarked. “Yes, planting trees is still important and blue tzedakah (charity) boxes serve a key role, but that just scratches the surface...
“Travel the country and you will find hospitals, schools, rehabilitation centers, parks, playgrounds, bomb shelters, and career development centers…JNF partnered with Nefesh b’nefesh (facilitating aliyahs (immigration) to Israel), finding that olim (new Israeli citizens) were choosing to live in the center of the country. Only by equally populating the north and south will Israel remain strong.”
Introduced by Event Co-Chair Jessica Levinson, Stephens stated that although he has not shrunk from criticizing the Trump administration, “I think that was the right thing to do, legally, historically and morally to move its Embassy from Tel Aviv, where it never belonged, to Jerusalem where it always belonged.”
“The second thing I call this administration for, is the clarity showed who is aggressor on the Gaza border, saying that Israel is within its rights to defend itself against misogynists who put women and children in harm’s way.”
Third, Stephens commended the Administration for leaving the Iran deal, saying that Iran was not coming clean about their nuclear capability.
Stephens called for a two-State solution but emphasized that the Palestinians must demonstrate why they deserve a State, “and not have Mahmoud Abbas make anti-Semitic speeches denying the Holocaust.”