Rabbi Yehoshua Fass, co-founder of the Nefesh B’Nefesh English speakers’ aliyah movement, Former MK Rabbi Chanan Porat, who helped re-establish the community of Kfar Etzion after the 1967 Six Day War following his service as a paratrooper, and recently retired director of the Mossad, (Israel’s international spy agency) Meir Dagan were the recipients of the 2011 Moskowitz Prize for Zionism.
The Prizes were awarded in ceremonies on Monday evening at Jerusalem’s City of David (Ir David), located across the road from the Western Wall (Kotel).
Cherna Moskowitz, who founded the prize along with her husband Dr. Irving Moskowitz, was the first speaker of the evening.
“We see reversals in all Arab countries,” she said. “No one can predict what will happen there. We have seen the rise of terrorism since the Oslo agreements and the education of incitement by Mahmoud Abbas. All this causes great damage to Israeli and American values and to the stability in the Middle East. At such a time of uncertainty, the last thing we need to do is to establish another Arab country in any way. All this only emphasizes the necessity of preserving Judea and Samaria in order to allow the Jewish state to survive.”
In the speech he gave after receiving the award, Dagan referred to the location of the ceremony, saying: “This place is not political. The City of David has a deep connection to Jewish history.”
Dagan thanked the members of the Israeli intelligence community for their part in the award.
“If I got this far, it would be appropriate for me to be the mouth of the intelligence people who work day and night. A group of men and women, young and old, who give all their energies and abilities for the State of Israel. Some of them work under difficult risks, they are not recognized, and you read about their successes in classified papers. On the other hand, their failures are smeared in newspapers and on television screens. They are not recognized, and even neighbors and relatives are unaware of their work.”
Dagan added, “Their real greatness is that they know how to learn from their failures.”
In his acceptance speech, Rabbi Fass noted that he does not stand there on behalf of himself, and that Nefesh B’Nefesh is an operation behind which are many other individuals. He made particular mention of his friend Tony Gelbart, who founded the organization with him but could not receive the award because he does yet not carry an Israeli identity card. Rabbi Fass stressed that the organization is working on this to happen soon.
Rabbi Porat, who received his award after Rabbi Fass, spoke of how he returned to Kfar Etzion following the Six Day War and founded the Gush Emunim settlement movement. “Despite all the obstacles we faced we built thousands of units,” he emphasized.
Rabbi Porat also mentioned the story of his friend, Giora Ashkenazi, who fell during the battle for Jerusalem. He noted that twenty years, he had the privilege to perpetuate his friend’s name in Yeshivat Orot on Mount Olives, which was established with the unconditional support of Dr. Irving Moskowitz.
The annual $50,000 prize was established to support Zionist values in Israeli society and to promote the Jewish nationalist home of Israel.
Photos by Issacher Roess: