Hollywood stars hold fundraiser for US taxpayer-funded Israeli military

Hollywood stars hold fundraiser for US taxpayer-funded Israeli military
Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban chaired his annual gala dinner in Los Angeles on Thursday, raising $53.8 million for the Israeli military.
2 min read
07 November, 2017
Hollywood A-listers Gerard Butler, David Foster, Melissa Rivers and Arnold Schwarzenegger were present [Twitter]
An annual "Friends of Israel Defence Forces" gala dinner held in Los Angeles last week raised an eye-watering $53.8 million for the apparently cash-strapped Israeli military.

More used to the guns and violence of the silver-screen, Hollywood A-listers including Gerard Butler and Arnold Schwarzenegger descended on the Beverly Hilton Hotel, to raise millions of dollars for the very same Israeli forces who have been accused of carrying out extra-judicial killings against Palestinians.

A wave of unrest that erupted in October 2015 has claimed the lives of at least 303 Palestinians.

Israeli authorities claim most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks.

Others were shot dead in protests and clashes, while some were killed in Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

Israel also occupies the Palestinian West Bank including East Jerusalem, deemed illegal by the international community.

Activists have released numerous videos showing Israeli forces using excessive force against Palestinians. 

The US taxpayer already forks out billions of dollars in military aid to Israel - more than to the rest of the world combined. Washington's average annual payments to Tel Aviv are around $3 billion, while in 2016, a staggering $38 billion deal was agreed, albeit to be spread over a decade.

The Israeli military is not exactly short of dollar bills

Israeli courts have found some troops guilty of manslaughter, but Israeli ministers and officials continue to grant those convicted pardons or cut their jail terms.

LA support 

The event, also supported David Foster and Melissa Rivers, was chaired by Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban, an entertainment mogul best known for producing the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and for bank-rolling Hillary Clinton's election campaign.

"Year after year, the support from the Los Angeles community for this remarkable event continues to amaze me, and this year's gala is no exception," Saban told the audience.

"[I am] grateful for the outpouring of support for this great cause and are deeply honoured by this year's record-breaking donations," he said.

"We look forward to furthering FIDF's noble mission of providing well-being and educational programmes for the IDF's brave heroes - and seeing our community welcome Israel's men and women in uniform with open arms."

The FIDF was founded in 1981 to support Israeli troops and veterans.

Money raised at the annual gala goes to finance programmes that include courses to "strengthen Jewish and Israeli identity", according to the group's mission statement.

"Soldiers confront questions of identity, purpose, and ethics on a regular basis," the statement says.

"The IDF Education Corps […] developed three courses for soldiers and commanders that focus on developing Jewish values and identity among IDF soldiers."