Gallant pours on the charm at JICNY Gala Dinner

Housing and Construction Minister Yoav Gallant addresses more than 100 people at the Jewish International Connection of New York Friday-night dinner on the current challenges facing Israel.

By DAVID BRUMMER
May 9, 2018 12:04
3 minute read.
Minister of Construction Yoav Gallant at the 7th Annual JPost Conference in NY

Minister of Construction Yoav Gallant at the 7th Annual JPost Conference in NY. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Minister of Housing and Construction Maj. Gen.(ret.) Yoav Gallant recently spoke to a young Jewish professional crowd in New York City about Israel’s strategic position with regard to its neighbors; and how, despite difficulties, it is well situated to handle the current threat level.

Gallant’s remarks touched on both his role as former commander of the IDF’s Southern Command and his current position as construction minister. With regard to the former, the current Knesset member was the commander who oversaw Operation Cast Lead, the 2010 military campaign against Hamas-led Gaza. “…For almost a decade now, since Operation Cast Lead… there has been quiet, aside from one major interruption – [Operation Protective Edge] in 2014,” he said.

A straight-talking politician who is known to support opportunities for Jewish and Arab leaders to come together, Gallant was clear about the current situation in the Strip. “Actually, the challenge in Gaza is different: to enable better lives for the Palestinian population, which has been taken hostage by a terrorist organization, without creating damage to Israel’s security.” He added that the dual Iranian threat of siting conventional forces in Syria and strengthening Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border, coupled with its nuclear aspirations, created a worrying escalation that added a new dimension.

Gallant expressed gratitude to US President Donald Trump for being prepared to adopt a different approach to “the very bad deal” that is the JCPOA nuclear agreement.

He further implied that the judicious use of both soft and hard American power would encourage Iran to recalibrate its current bellicose trajectory.

The construction minister’s talk was an optimistic one, espousing the virtues of the Israeli miracle – and showing to a young and largely unaffiliated group a more positive face of Israel and how there is much of which to be proud.

Jodi Samuels, Jewish International Connection of New York (JICNY) co-founder and director said that Gallant’s message was a welcome and timely one. “People really loved speaking to the minister and his wife,” she said. “So many young unaffiliated young Jewish people do not see a positive narrative about Israel – constantly being bombarded with negative articles and images. It was so meaningful for young people to hear such honesty from a seasoned politician, who answered their questions and who dealt with issues such as the Palestinians and the housing crisis,” she added.

Also present at the dinner was Reservists on Duty’s Minorities Coordinator, Jonathan Elkhoury. A Lebanese Christian, whose family served in the South Lebanon Army from 1982 to 2000, he shared his personal story with the JICNY dinner participants. And by sharing minority stories in Israel, it can help create a buffer of positivity and goodwill to refute the worst excesses of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement and Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP).

“The response to me was fantastic,” said Elkhoury.

“When I go to speak, I don’t share my political views; and my agenda is to show that Israel is much more complex than it is presented. We share personal stories of people actually living in Israel – and for many it is the first time they have been exposed to this narrative before – even in Israel, not many people of my generation know about the South Lebanon Army.”

Elkhoury was pleased with the opportunity that he was given after the dinner to talk at greater length about the role of minorities in Israel. He added that he spoke with participants about Christian society in Israel and the large number of minorities serving in the IDF and also those performing national service – highlighting that they are fully involved in the fabric of Israeli life. “If we will not input [our stories], the next generations of people in America will have a skewed narrative of Israel,” he explained.

JICNY hosts more than 200 events each year and attempts to connect people who are new to the city. It hosts Shabbat dinner once a month and collaborated with The Jerusalem Post to have a high-level speaker come and talk to its assortment of young Jewish professionals.

This article was written in cooperation with JICNY.


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