Israeli editor tells which U.S. Presidents Israelis liked

David Horovitz at Jewish Federation of San Diego County Men’s Event


By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

LA JOLLA, California — It is not the U.S. president’s political party that determines how well he is liked in Israel, rather it is how empathetic he is toward the Jewish state, Times of Israel founding editor David Horovitz commented Thursday night at the Men’s Event of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County.  Organizers said over 700 persons attended Horovitz’s talk which capped the annual fundraising affair.

Before Horovitz came to the podium, firefighter Scott Stein and high school student Julia Bernicker appealed for support of the Federation’s work. Scott extolled Rabbi Ralph Dahlin, the Federation-based community chaplain, for the comfort and support he gives to unaffiliated families in their time of need, while Julia Bernicker told how Motiv, formerly headed by Darren Schwartz, motivates teenagers to volunteer their time for good causes. Both speakers said the net result of these Federation programs was to draw them closer to the Jewish community and prompt them to strengthen their affiliations

Horovitz, carefully walking a line that would be seen as non-partisan, said Israelis generally felt President Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush were cool to Israel, while Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were warm to Israel.  Obama and Clinton are both Democrats, whereas the older and younger Presidents Bush are Republicans.

About Clinton, Horovitz commented that he is so popular in Israel, that if he were to convert to Judaism and move to Israel, he could be elected to anything.

Horovitz diplomatically refrained from making any comment about President Donald Trump, aware no doubt how deep are the divisions in this country about the Trump presidency.

He made the point that there are plenty of divisions in Israel, not only of Jew vs. Arab, but also of Jew vs. Jew.  For example, he said, there is no unanimity in Israel on the question of whether egalitarian prayer services should be permitted at the Kotel, nor about the propriety of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acceding to Orthodox pressure to freeze an agreement that would have allowed such mixed prayer.

The British born journalist, who formerly served as editor of the Jerusalem Post, emphasized the point that Israel is a complex country, which follows policies that may seem inconsistent to those who don’t understand the deep humanitarian strain in the Israeli character.

For example, he told the crowd at the La Jolla Hilton at Torrey Pines, even though Syria  is at war with Israel, notwithstanding that Syria is engaged in its own civil war,  Israel maintains a field hospital at the Syria-Israel border to help those wounded in the civil war conflict.  Those that cannot be treated at the border hospital are taken to hospitals in the Galilee.  On one occasion, he said, a wounded soldier was rushed to a hospital in Tsfat, and when medics cut his clothes off to prepare him for surgery, hand grenades fell from the soldier’s pockets.  The hospital had to be evacuated until the grenades could be disposed of safely.

Another example of the complexity of Israel is that Yonatan Shira. the star in the Oscar-nominated Israeli movie Foxtrot, will be doing real-life combat duty as a soldier in Israel, even after making a movie which critics suggest paints Israel in a bad light.

In Mahane Yehuda, the well known market in Jerusalem, there is a restaurant called Pasta Basta which has a kosher certificate, but not signed by the official rabbinate.  So is it kosher or isn’t it, wondered Horovitz.  “We’re driving ourselves crazy.”

Horovitz quipped that Israel makes so much news, that if news generation were proportional to a country’s size Israel should be twice the size of Canada, instead of approximately the size of the State of New Jersey.

Co-chairs of the Men’s Event were Cliff Boron, David Bramzon, and Brett Saloner.  Vocalist Amber Bartlett led the crowd in the singing of the two national anthems — “The Star Spangled Banner” and “Hatikvah.”

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Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World. He may be contacted via [email protected]

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