Normally, when a television crew is summoned to an IDF base at 3:00am to film the Chief of Staff, it means that another weapons ship has been captured or a secret operation took place.
It was a whole different story, however, on Tuesday night, when the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) held its annual fundraising gala at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City.
The event was attended by over 1,400 guests from around the United States and Israel, including businessmen, social leaders and military men. The evening was particularly special this year, as the FIDF celebrated its 30th anniversary. In recognition and appreciation for the organization's long-standing contribution and the significant change it makes in the lives of tens of thousands of soldiers and their families, all the former IDF Chiefs of Staff came to salute and honor the donors: Gabi Ashkenazi, Dan Halutz, MK Moshe Ya'alon, MK Shaul Mofaz, Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Also in attendance were Military Attaché in Washington Major General Gadi Shamni, the Head of the IDF's Personnel Directorate Major General Avi Zamir, IDF Spokesman Brigadier-General Avi Benayahu, FIDF chairman Arthur Stark, and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews president Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein.
The one person who was unable to attend the special evening was current IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, since standard operating procedures state that there will never be a situation where both the Defense Minister and the Chief of Staff are out of the country at the same time.
However, in order to allow Gantz to take part in the event and address attendees, a film crew belonging to Jerusalem Capital Studios (JCS) traveled to the Palmahim Air Force base at 3:00am Israel time (9:00pm EDT), where it filmed Gantz’s address to the FIDF gala and then transmitted it via satellite directly to the Waldorf Astoria.
JCS CEO Hanani Rapoport thanked FIDF for their cooperation during the past 13 years, adding that JCS is proud to be part of such an evening. “JCS, who meets the army during war, was very glad to see the army in an evening such as this,” said Rapoport.
All in all, FIDF collected more than $23 million for IDF soldiers during the fundraising gala.