Herb Green: The Man Who Nurtured the Land
The man whose generosity helped fund a new town for the residents of Gush Katif's community of Netzarim has passed away.
But 76-year-old Herb Green and his wife Joyce were not only supporters of Haluzit, the southwestern Negev site where Netzarim's former residents are trying to rebuild their lives, after being thrown out of their homes in the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza.
Green's largesse also helped build Katif, in the Lachish region near Be'er Sheva, for other former residents of Gush Katif. But it wasn't just replacement communities for the destroyed lives from Gush Katif that Green, a businessman from Toronto, was used to building. A quiet but generous philanthropist, Green was known for “getting things done.”
The following video was produced by Arutz Sheva TV several years ago for a event honoring Herb and Joyce Green for their contribution to the Nezarim evacuees:
As a builder and developer with a Zionist upbringing, “it wasn't about giving money, necessarily,” explained son-in-law Moshe Kempinski in an interview with Israel National News. “It was about arranging a job, not just 'teaching someone to fish' but rather expecting him to actually do it. He believed in people.” Green himself said in an interview several years ago that he was "impressed by how strong, how resourceful" the former residents of Netzarim were, "and how none of them had lost their Zionist zeal." This, he said, only spurred him on to want to help them even more.
Building family was especially important for Green, said Kempinski, creating an atmosphere that enabled all of his grandchildren to feel as if “they had known him all their lives and had spent every Shabbat with him, every weekend, even though they were an ocean apart.” It was his passion for Israel and family in fact, that drove him to come even when his health began to fail, against doctor's orders for the Passover holiday.
Of his four children -- Marvin, Cheryl, David and Lisa -- three moved to Israel, creating a permanent foothold in the Holy Land, with grandchildren and even great-grandchildren to cement the presence.
“His passion for Israel was very intense,” Kempinski said. “During the Gulf War, he went to visit the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson to tell him he wanted to attend a family brit mila (circumcision) in Israel and to ask his advice on the matter. 'Of course you should go,' the Rebbe told him,” Kempinski related. “He gave him a special blessing and a dollar for tzedakah (to place in a charity box) at the end of the journey.”
Shalom Shwartz, leadership coach at Jerusalem's Aish HaTorah yeshiva noted that Green “was an extremely proud Jew who believed in the Jewish People, and he took personally anything that threatened their survival.” In doing so, Shwartz said, Green not only supported institutions that fight the battle against assimilation, but also provided funding for initiatives such as the Jerusalem Fellowships. Rabbi Noach Weinberg, recently-deceased director of Aish HaTorah, referred to Green as his “partner in the battle for Jewish survival.”
But Jewish survival was a war that Green fought on many different fronts, and according to Kempinski, “no one really knows” how many causes benefited from his generous support. “We are only just beginning to find out now,” he said.
One of those was the fight against Arab disinformation on the international media scene, a battle he entered alongside David Bedein, director of the Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research.
When a PLO member that had attacked an El Al Airlines plane surfaced in Toronto, Green contacted Bedein through the good offices of Rabbi Weinberg, and began a partnership that lasted for decades. Together they formulated a campaign that flushed out the terrorist as well as the families of those he had harmed, presenting a news conference to reporters that suddenly highlighted a human picture of the PLO's victims never before seen or understood in Western media.
“Herb's office in Toronto videotaped all American and Israeli television coverage of those critical days of the intifada and cut out clippings from the print media and forwarded them to Beit Agron for the [government] press office to see with its own eyes how Israel was being battered in the North American media,” Bedein explained. “Herb became the sole source of knowledge of what Israel was going through at the time, at a time when the Israeli government was not videotaping and clipping that which media practitioners in Israel needed to see.”
Green then took matters a step further, joining forces with Bedein and Dr. Joseph Lerner, founder of Independent Media Review Analysis (IMRA), to form an UNRWA activities research project which to this day continues to produce investigative stories of the agency's activities from 1948 to the present day. It was Herb Green, noted Bedein, who picked up the tab for production of videos about PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, “and who covered the cost of dispatching the only television crew, which filmed the Palestine National Council special session where they were supposed to cancel the PLO covenant, and didn't.”
Green saw the media as a battlefield, added Bedein, “where Israel was simply not contending. And he saw to it that Israel would contend. Herb's model of action and his fight for the integrity of Israel in the media will remain his legacy as the unsung hero in the fight for a better Israel today.
“Everyone can learn from the example of Herb Green.”