Op-Ed: Top 10 Non-Jews Positively Influencing Jewish Future
After seeing a list of the world's richest Jews (in JPost, gave rise to much controversy on why the list was made at all, ed.), I was inspired to create a list of my own -- not of Jews, but of non-Jews, specifically those that are having the most positive influence in shaping the Jewish future.
A year later, much has changed, new figures have emerged, others have faded and some have remained. But the importance of bringing attention to this group is constant. For this reason I have sought to make this a regular endeavor, as such I present the second-annual list.
Similar to the criteria used by other list makers, I chose my candidates from around the world and from all walks of life. The list includes, politicians, activists, business giants and more, all of whom have made a significant constructive impact on Israel and the Jewish world. Last year I only listed the top six, but wanted to make the list slightly more comprehensive, so it is now expanded to include the top 10. They are in ascending order.
Although by no means an exact science, my aim in this compilation, is to provide some insight into the playing field of this unique yet modest group. Additionally I aim to provide a glimpse at their often courageous, sometimes unacknowledged activities on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.
10. Julie Burchill
Columnist and novelist
Currently a columnist for The Independent, she has written for newspapers such as The Sunday Times and The Guardian. The Jewish Chronicle described her in 2008 as "Israel's staunchest supporter in the UK media."
9. Jon Voight
Supporter of Jewish causes, most notably Chabad, Voight is also a prolific spokesman for Israel. A rarity in Hollywood circles, he has advocated for Jewish values, consistently reaching an often indifferent audience.
8. Patrick Debois
Founder, Yahad-In Unum
A Roman Catholic priest, Debois is head of the Commission for Relations with Judaism of the French Bishops' Conference and Consultant to the Vatican. He is the co-founder and president of Yahad-In Unum, an organization whose mission is to document the murder of the 1.5 million Jews of Ukraine, shot dead by the Nazis and buried throughout the country. This work is vital in ensuring that the memory of these victims will not fade with the death of the last witnesses.
7. John Hagee
Founder, Christians United for Israel
Hagee's Christians United for Israel continues to experience rapid growth, now boasting upwards of 600,000 members. The group makes significant contributions to Jewish causes, and has become a potent political force in support of Israel. Author of "Jerusalem Countdown" and "In Defense of Israel," the pastor from San Antonio has met with every Israeli prime minister since Menachem Begin and his ministries have given more than $8.5 million to bring Jews from the former Soviet Union to Israel.
6. Warren Buffet
The famed investor has been a strong supporter of Israeli innovation, and has bought into it significantly. Last year, while visiting the country, he famously said that "Israel has shown that it has a disproportionate amount of brains and energy." Buffet's strong statement of confidence has gone a long way in encouraging significant foreign investment in the Jewish State.
5. Jose Maria Aznar
Former Prime Minister of Spain
In 2010, Aznar founded the Friends of Israel Initiative, with the stated goal to "counter the attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel and its right to live in peace within safe and defensible borders." Referring to the ill-fated takeover of the Mavi Marmara by Israeli commandos, Aznar said in 2010 that the world must support Israel because "if it goes down, we all go down." His unique organization provides a strong voice of reason in circles where it might otherwise not be heard.
4. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India
The largest customer of Israeli military equipment and Israel's second-largest economic partner, Indian ties with Israel are now stronger than ever and advanced negotiations for an extensive bilateral trade pact are well under way. Singh is largely responsible for cultivating and developing this crucial alliance that is vital to Israel's economic stability and continued growth.
3. John Boehner
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
Among the many friends of the Jewish community in the U.S. Congress, Boehner's recent actions have made him stand out. Centrally involved in the recent invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress, Boehner provided the platform for the Jewish narrative to be conveyed to a pivotal audience at an important time.
2. Rupert Murdoch
CEO of News Corporation
At an American Jewish Committee dinner honoring Murdoch he opened his acceptance speech by saying, "over the years, some of my wildest critics seem to have assumed I am Jewish. At the same time, some of my closest friends wish I were. So tonight, let me set the record straight: I live in New York. I have a wife who craves Chinese food. And people I trust tell me I practically invented the word chutzpah."
As CEO of News Corporation, Murdoch has continued to ensure that the outlets under his direction, including The London Times, Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, are fair and honest in their coverage of matters relating to Jews and Israel.
1. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Recently winning a majority government for his conservative party, Harper has been a great friend to Canada's Jewish community as well as an outspoken supporter of Israeli positions in the international political arena, saying last year, "When Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand."
His recent blocking of a G8 resolution in support of President Obama's Middle East policy speech that would mention the call for a Palestinian State based on the 1967 lines, while not incorporating other elements of the speech, earns him the top spot this year.
(Sent to Arutz 7 by the writer)