“‘FREEZE ON SETTLEMENT BUILDING MAKES NO SENSE'” by Fern Sidman

“The right of the Jewish people to their homeland is with G-d”, declared Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas Governor and FOX News Channel TV host, as he delivered an impassioned address at the 28th annual Bet El dinner, held Sunday evening, December 5th at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Manhattan.

While political insiders are suggesting that Governor Huckabee will throw his hat in the ring as a potential GOP candidate for the presidency in 2012, the Governor stopped short of doing so. “I’m not ready to announce my candidacy for president just yet”, he said. Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister, musician and public speaker, ran a close second to Arizona Senator John McCain as the Republican nominee for president in 2008.

Introducing Governor Huckabee was Dr. Joseph Frager, renowned Jewish philanthropist and 2010 recipient of the Bet El “Shomer Yisroel” Award, who gave his endorsement of the former governor by saying, “Mike Huckabee is the best friend that Israel has today and I say that without hyperbole. He is the only candidate who did not espouse a two state solution as a means of achieving peace in the region. He has gone on record continually and unequivocally as stating that the Jewish rights to Israel include all of Judea and Samaria and to all of Jerusalem. He has called for the United States Embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus acknowledging U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal, undivided capitol of Israel.” Dr. Frager added that, “He will make the best president that we ever had.”

Referring to Israel as a “magnificent and wonderful land”, Governor Huckabee recalled his 2009 trip to Israel in which he traveled with Dr. Frager and members of the Jerusalem Reclamation Project. “I have been extraordinarily blessed to have visited Israel with Joe Frager, his wife Karen, my dear friend Dr. Paul Brody who initiated the trip and Assemblyman Dov Hikind and his wife Shani. These people and those who are here tonight to support Yeshiva Bet El, are those who define courage, dedication and sacrifice.”

Taking issue with the Obama administration’s demand that Israel impose a freeze on settlement construction in Judea, Samaria and parts of Jerusalem in order to re-start peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, Governor Huckabee said, “To apply pressure on Israel in order to enact a freeze on settlement construction is counter-intuitive to what this is all about. It makes no sense for Israel to place herself in existential danger by freezing the building of settlements when she is dealing with an avowed enemy. The Palestinians must declare that Israel has a right to exist and that Jerusalem is the Jewish capital.” Huckabee added that, “in my view, we should encourage Israel to accelerate the building of homes and communities and place even more Jews there.”

Governor Huckabee prodigiously addressed the Iranian nuclear arms threat and called on the United States to recognize Israel as a “stabilizing ally in that region”. His speech was peppered with several oblique references to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as he intoned, “There are madmen out there with intention to destroy both Israel, America and the entire western world. Without equivocation and without apology we must stand behind Israel and support Israel against the very real threat of such maniacal madmen.”

Governor Huckabee’s speech was met with thunderous applause from over 1500 attendees who gathered for this much anticipated annual gala event. Billed as a place where, “Jewish history began and where Jewish life continues to thrive” Bet El is a vibrant settlement situated on the once barren hills guarding the northern approaches to Jerusalem and has come to be renowned as a shining paradigm of a community predicated on Torah true values. The idealistic men, women and children of Bet El serve as the stalwart vanguard of the settlement and are considered to be courageous pioneers in strengthening the inherent Jewish roots in Judea and Samaria. Through their Herculean efforts, they have also succeeded in creating a dynamic and highly influential yeshiva and educational center. Bet El is also the very place where breaking news from Israel is published on a daily basis, as it is the home of the Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) web site.

Mr. Eugen Gluck, Chairman of the Board of the American Friends of Bet El, welcomed the overflowing crowd by saying, “During this holiday of Chanukah we honor and remember the glorious legacy of the Maccabees of old and also pay tribute to the commitment and selfless dedication of those who live in Bet El and those who selflessly support this radiant Makom Torah.”

A special video presentation also highlighted the evening as such luminaries as Minister of Knesset Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz, who was also honored with the lighting of the menorah at the dinner, and esteemed Torah scholar and Rosh Yeshiva of Bet El, Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed were featured as pivotal figures in the burgeoning expansion of Bet El.

The recipients of the auspicious 2010 Bet El awards included a panoply of dedicated Jewish activists and leaders in their respective communities. Dr. Joseph and Karen Frager received the Shomer Yisrael Award for their commitment to the residents of Bet El and Eretz Yisrael as well as innumerable Jewish communal causes. Dr. Frager is best known as the Chairman of the Board of the internationally acclaimed Jerusalem Reclamation Project which has changed the face of the old city of Jerusalem over the past 31 years.

Dr. Jeffrey and Esther Weber were honored with the Shomer Bet El award for their “ardent support of Israeli and local Jewish causes.” Dr. Weber serves on the executive board of the Merkaz Yisroel Marine Park Jewish Center in Brooklyn, NY and his connection to Bet El dates back to 1992. The Weber home often hosts staff members from the Bet El yeshiva traveling in the New York area.

The distinguished Keter Torah Award was presented to Dr. Joshua and Shifra Fox, residents of Lawrence, New York where they have achieved an outstanding reputation for their chesed and ahavas yisroel and are widely acknowledged by many Torah institutions throughout the United States. Dr. Fox has served as President of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla and is on the board of directors of the Torah Academy for Girls, the Jewish Heritage Center, Yeshiva Darchei Torah and the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway.

The guest of honor at this year’s Bet El dinner were Rabbi Dr. Richard and Sandy Weiss of Hillcrest, Queens. Rabbi Weiss holds the pulpit at the Young Israel of Hillcrest and is an assistant professor of biology at Stern College for Women. The Weiss’ were lauded for being “ardent advocates of Israel and the community of Bet El.” After visiting Bet El on his last mission, Dr. Weiss remarked that “the people of Bet El are modern day pioneers who have established a blossoming town right next to Ramallah, where Yassir Arafat based his reign of terror.”

Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish organizations delivered a stirring address as he called on the audience and the nation of Israel to become a “B’nai Bina” (a people who understands). “We don’t want to see the realities in our midst and we must understand the challenges of our time. We must see beyond the moment and focus on the broader picture. Just as our father Abraham stopped before ascending the Har HaMoriah with his beloved son Yitzchak, his son Yishmael and his servant Eliezer, he asked them what they saw and it was only Yitzchak who said that he saw a glorious mountain. It was then that Abraham decided to leave Yishmael and Eliezer behind because of their myopic ideological vision and take only Yitzchak up to the mountain.”

He added that, “Chanukah is not about the past but its about our future and Bet El is not about our past and is inextricably tied to our future. We must boldly declare the Jewish claim to the Kotel Hamaravi and to the Har HaBayit. Our history and our future is forged in thousands of years of Jewish sacrifice and Jewish blood, sweat and tears and we must stand strong and rise to the challenges presented to us by those who seek to jettison the Jewish claim to Jerusalem and all of Israel.”

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Fern Sidman holds a B.A, in political science from Brooklyn College. She was the educational coordinator for the Betar Youth Movement in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She was national director of the Jewish Defense League from 1983-1985. She was a researcher for several books written by Rabbi Meir Kahane, ZTK”L. She was the managing editor of the publication entitled, The Voice of Judea, and is a regular contributor to its web site. She is currently a writer and journalist living in New York City. Her articles have appeared in The Jewish Press, The Jewish Advocate, The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles, and numerous Jewish and general web sites including, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Pipes and Michael Freund.
We are delighted to have Ms. Sidman as a regular contributor to the Jesus is Lord, A Worshipping Christian’s Blog.

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