More than 1,200 guests showed up at the annual Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces charity event, which took place at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on November 5 and raised a total of $31 million in just one night.
According to the website of the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces, an average of 2,800 such soldiers are serving in the army at any given time. Approximately 950 new lone soldiers join the IDF every year.
Attendees included Hollywood actors Jason Alexander, Antonio Banderas, Liev Schreiber, Jason Segel and Mark Wahlberg. Gene Simmons, the frontman of 1980‘s rock band KISS also attended. Simmons’ real name is Chaim Witz, and he was born in Israel before moving to the United States at age 8, according to the US media.
Friends of the Israel Defense Forces was established in 1981 by a group of Holocaust survivors as a nonprofit organization; its mission was to provide and support educational, social, cultural, and recreational programs and facilities for the men and women of the Israeli armed forces, according to a statement on its website.
Thursday’s fundraiser came ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's trip to the US to secure a decade-long aid package worth a total of $50 billion.
Under the current deal, which is set to expire in 2017, Israel currently receives over $3 billion worth of military aid from the US per year.
"Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of US foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $124.3 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance," reads the summary of the report.
American Friends of Palestine
Many of the country’s nonprofit organizations have pledged their support for Palestine. Among them, the American Friends of UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) aims to educate the general American public through fundraising, advocacy, and outreach about the situation of Palestinian refugees and generate support for UNRWA's work in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.
Pro-Palestinian American celebrities include, Whoopi Goldberg, Wasalu Muhammad Jaco or Lupe Fiasco, the American hip-hop star, NBA player Amare Stoudemire, Kim Kardashian, Hollywood actors Meg Ryan and Dustin Hoffman, American political satirist, television host, and stand-up comedian Jon Stewart and singer Rihanna.