NEW YORK – Dozens of Natorei Karta members protested outside the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan Tuesday night, while inside the Friends of the IDF was holding its annual flagship gala in the presence of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, UN Ambassador Danny Danon and many prominent Jewish philanthropists.
An attendee who did not wish to be named told that the ultra-Orthodox protesters stood outside the entrance of the hotel screaming at those who entered.
They held signs saying “Support to Israel is not supporting Jews or Judaism” and “Judaism rejects Zionism” among others.
“They were calling to boycott the event, boycott Israel and boycott the IDF,” the attendee said. “They even screamed that Israel has no right to exist and told people not to go to the gala.”
According to the witness, the Natorei Karta also gave out flyers to passersby.
“The event lasted several hours and when we left around 10 p.m. they were still outside. Some of the people who came to the event engaged in long conversations with them,” he added. “We also heard from the organizers of the event that two of the protesters tried to break in, but were stopped by security.”
More than 1,300 people attended Tuesday night’s gala and raised a record-breaking $33.1 million to support educational and well-being programs for IDF soldiers.
“Even as Israel has become a global leader in so many fields, we are still embroiled in the battle for our independence,” Ya’alon said in his keynote address. “We are surrounded by several nations and entities that have yet to accept the existence of a Jewish homeland – we strive for peace while they strive for war.”
Ya’alon also discussed his meeting on Monday with Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter on the US military aid package to Israel, and said America remains Israel’s “ally and strategic cornerstone.”
“This unique bond between FIDF and its American supporters, the Israel Defense Forces, and the people of Israel is exemplified here tonight,” he added, “Israel has no greater friend than the United States of America.”
FIDF director and CEO Maj.- Gen. (res.) Meir Klifi-Amir said the gala aimed to “pay tribute to the brave men and women in uniform who protect the State of Israel and Jews worldwide.”
“Tonight was about showing them that we are all thankful for their sacrifices and that, while their job is to look after Israel, ours is to look after them,” he added.
Funds raised at the gala will provide services such as academic scholarships to combat veterans, financial assistance for soldiers in-need, support for lone soldiers throughout their service and upon release, crucial aid for wounded veterans and the families of fallen soldiers,, as well as educational, cultural, and recreational facilities for IDF soldiers.