US and Israeli soldiers at 2017 FIDF gala
US and Israeli soldiers at 2017 FIDF galaShahar Arzan, courtesy of FIDF

IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot will address more than 1,200 business leaders and philanthropists from across the US as they salute Israel’s armed forces and veterans at the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) National N.Y. Gala Dinner at the New York Hilton Midtown next Wednesday.

The gala will feature active-duty IDF soldiers and several special guests, including Eisenkot, IDF Brig. Gen. Tal Kelman, and senior Israeli diplomats stationed in New York, including Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, and Consul-General in New York Dani Dayan.

Highlighting the unique cooperation between the United States and Israel, Brig. Gen. Kelman, Head of the Strategic Division of the IDF Planning Directorate and former Chief of Staff in the Israeli Air Force (IAF), will discuss working together with US Air Force soldiers during the Juniper Cobra joint military exercise earlier this year. He will be joined on stage by Cpt. Or, the first female soldier to command a Patriot Battery, who recently employed an advanced air defense system to shoot down the Syrian airplane and drone that invaded Israeli airspace this past July.

Honored guests will also include 30 IDF soldiers and officers from several military units, including Sgt. Bar, a paramedic who treats wounded Syrian civilians along the border with Israel as part of the IDF’s “Operation Good Neighbor”; and Maj. Or Ben-Yehuda, who served in the Caracal Battalion, one of the only co-ed military units in the world, and her mother, Prof. Dina Ben-Yehuda, who will share their story of heroism passing on from generation to generation. Dina served in the IDF during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and Or in 2014 single-handedly fought off a group of terrorists and was awarded for her courageous actions. IDF combat veterans who are now FIDF IMPACT! Scholarship recipients will also be in attendance.

Other distinguished guests will include IDF Attache to the United States Maj. Gen. Michael Edelstein; FIDF Acting Chairman Peter Weintraub; FIDF Chairman Emeritus Arthur Stark; FIDF Acting President Robert Cohen; FIDF National Director and CEO Maj. Gen. (Res.) Meir Klifi-Amir; radio personality and voice-over artist Valerie Smaldone, who will preside as master of ceremonies; and FIDF Tri-State Executive Director Galit Brichta.

Renowned Israeli singer and former “X Factor Israel” television personality Shiri Maimon, who recently starred as Roxie in “Chicago” on Broadway, will perform together with soldiers of the IDF Musical Ensemble, as well as with two of her own songs.

“Since its birth 70 years ago, Israel has continuously fought for its right to live as a free country in the Middle East. A true ‘Start-up Nation,’ Israel not only survives but thrives, with accomplishments and innovations that greatly contribute not only to her own citizens, but also to the rest of the world,” said Meir Klifi-Amir. “The success of the state of Israel is rooted in many factors, most importantly resting on two pillars; a strong IDF – one of the best militaries in the world, with the highest moral and ethics, and the strong bond between Israel and the great United States of America. Standing together is the most powerful way to continue to thrive, flourish, and face the challenges yet to come. We are most honored to have the IDF Chief of the General Staff Lt. Gen. Eisenkot join us at this momentous annual gala, as we celebrate 70 years of Israel and salute the heroes of the IDF.”

For the fourth year, FIDF’s flagship national event is chaired by Peter Weintraub, a businessman and avid FIDF supporter for over 17 years.

“The miracle called Israel has continued to exist as a strong and thriving country over the past 70 years,” said Weintraub, “and it will continue to exist thanks to the heroic soldiers of the IDF, who put their lives on the line every day to defend the home of the Jewish nation. I am proud to chair this extraordinary event and salute Israel’s soldiers for their countless sacrifices, historic victories, and commitment to our people.”