William K. Langfan
William K. LangfanCourtesy

In my many meetings with William, I listened to his fascinating accounts and felt that I was reliving history.

He participated in WWII as a soldier in a US Anti-aircraft unit (1943-1945), fought in the Battle of Britain, landed in Normandy, fought across France, Belgium (including the Battle of The Bulge), continued through Germany to a few miles from the German-Czech border when the war ended. He marched into Buchenwald being exposed to the horrific images moments after it was liberated. There and throughout the war, William served as the interpreter for his army unit, as he was fluent in French and Yiddish.

He attended the Sorbonne in France and later received a law degree from Cornell Law School. What intrigued me most, was William’s keen sense of applying the lessons of history to current events.

In the video below (a must watch from beginning to end), he does just that comparing Chamberlain’s meeting with Hitler and subsequent ceding of the Sudetenland to Germany to modern-day attempts to appease the Arabs through Israeli land concessions.

His perspective on the Israel-Arab conflict is riveting. His insights were so convincing, I sensed that he had garnered all the right lessons from history. The impact of his experiences led him to selflessly dedicate his life to making sure we don’t make the same mistakes again.

He did this through several channels:

He embarked upon a personal crusade to unequivocally prove that the Palestine Liberation Organization (Fatah) never actually accepted Israel’s existence through the amendment of their charter which calls for Israel’s destruction. Despite all the media coverage to the contrary, William gathered the evidence and calmly presented his case. He showed step by step that following the highly-publicized declarations of the PLO changing its charter, the actual amendments to the charter got lost in the details, and armed struggle against Israel remains to this day as an central theme therein.

William was so confident of the accuracy of his analysis, he challenged multiple people to a debate on the topic. No one accepted. As I sat in an interview with him, he told me, “I offer a $1 million reward to anyone who can prove to me that the PLO amended its charter to erase the clauses calling for Israel’s destruction.” I hesitated. He insisted, “Write it up. I’m serious. I’ll give $1 million to anyone who proves I am wrong.” And so, Arutz Sheva published this 2015 headline: Win $1 Million If You Prove PLO Accepted Israel. William also selectively identified key causes in the Jewish world that were advancing important agendas to effect change. Thus, every single time that I visited him, he gladly signed a generous check to support the construction of the Land of Israel via Bet El Institutions.

William was a Jewish leader through his philanthropy and activism and succeeded in bequeathing both of these traits to his son Mark, who now manages the family real estate business, originally established by William.

Not all sons are inspired by their fathers, but William successfully ignited in Mark’s soul a passion for Israel, leading Mark to launch one of the most original, out-of-the-box, aggressive-yet-gentle approaches to advocacy for the State of Israel. Using visual aids in the form of maps, Mark guides the viewers, through simple logic, to an increased understanding of Israel’s strategic value to the West and what exactly the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is all about.

Here’s one example: See why this Israel Advocacy video went viral

William donated ambulances and Sefer Torahs and has contributed to Israeli universities and institutions.

William Langfan leaves behind a legacy of activism and giving to his 3 children and 6 grandchildren, all of whom share his love of Israel and Judaism.

May his memory be for a blessing.