In The City: J100 Gala with Pat Boone, Enes Kanter Freedom and Emily Austin

“50 years, what an accomplishment for The Algemeiner!”, said Consul General of the State of Israel Asaf Zamir to a crowded room at the Algemeiner newspaper’s J100 Gala. He continued, “We gather today, on the 29th of November, which marks the 75th year of the state of Israel — the UN resolution when countries of the world came together to recognize the Israeli people’s ancestral right to their eternal homeland. This year in New York, I’ve witnessed the alarming rise in anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric. This is why I strongly believe in educating, reporting, and writing about Jewish and Isreali issues. This room is filled with people who do just that. Thank you to the people of the Algemeiner!”

The Algemeiner newspaper celebrated their 50th Anniversary by honoring singer Pat Boone, NBA star Enes Kanter Freedom, former Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz, and philanthropists Ben and Annie Fisher. Dana Arschin, two-time Emmy award-winner and TV journalist, hosted. The Gala heralded the highly anticipated J100 List, of the top 100 individuals positively influencing Jewish life, similar to the TIME100.

Esteemed philanthropist Mark Gerson introduced Pat Boone, the 88-year-old rock ’n’ roller and author of the theme song of the classic movie “Exodus.” Pat was honored for his political activism and advocacy for Israel. He shared, “I was in a bunker in occupied Syria and I said to the commander of that outpost, ‘I have a theory. For 40 years I have read the bible from beginning to end. God intends for Israel to be restored and to be bigger and better than ever.

Every time Israel is attacked your borders will enlarge.’ Months later while visiting with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and speaking about my time near Mount Herman and then in occupied Syrian territories, he went to the map and he put his finger up. He said ‘you brought us a prophecy. The land surrounding that bunker is now part of the new map of israel.’”

NBA star Enes Kanter Freedom was honored for launching a basketball camp for Muslim, Jewish, and Christian children in Jerusalem. He recounted, “I grew up in Turkey, and the politicians would attack America and Israel to get elected. When I was 8 years old, I remember playing with friends and they started burning American and Israeli flags because they saw it on TV. My mom said ‘don’t hate anyone before you meet them’. When I was on the Boston Celtics, the Consulate General of Israel to New England invited me to Holocaust Remembrance Day. I met a Holocaust survivor who asked why I was there and I said, ‘to learn’. It was there that I came up with this crazy idea; let’s use basketball as a tool to bring people together. So, I set up this basketball camp in Israel and Palestinians came. Jewish, Christian, and Muslim people came. We had the most amazing time. This is why, even with our differences in backgrounds, color, religion, and cultures, we need to leave our differences on the table and try to find what we have in common.”

Philanthropists Ben and Annie Fisher accepted their award, in recognition of their generous support of Israel and Jewish organizations, and said, “We all know the vibrancy intrinsic to Jewish life and the warmth read throughout the Torah. Let these be the truths we share with the world and let us work hand-in-hand to share them together.”

Sebastian Kurz was honored for his work as the youngest chancellor in Austrian history, who spoke out strongly against antisemitism during his appointment. Kurz shared, “The fight against anti-semitism and the preservation of a culture of remembrance is a historical responsibility that not only belongs to the older generation. Especially the younger generation — my generation — must carry it forward in the future, because they are probably the last to have the privilege of talking to Holocaust survivors about their personal stories and learning from them. Thank you, Algemeiner, for this great award, which I will carry with both pride and humbleness.”

Event Chair, former Algemeiner Editor in Chief and CEO, Dovid Efune, introduced the new Algemeiner CEO Jason Pressberg. “Jason comes with a wealth of experience and a lifetime of commitment to the cause of anti-Semitism and misinformation. We know that we are surrounded by Goliaths, but we have also not forgotten that we hail from the stock of David, which means that we have a history of giant slaying.” Jason thanked Dovid and said, “For me, taking over as CEO feels like a continuation of the work that I’ve always done. I started with Hillel. I was on campus at Tulane, Harvard, and Northeastern Universities when the Students for Justice and Palestine Movement began. My career continued with AIPAC where we fought hard for Israel in the halls of Congress. Here at The Algemeiner, this fight for truth continues.”

Speakers included Publisher Simon Jacobson, Emily Austin, Malcolm Hoenlein, and Ukrainian refugee Slavik Gokhman. Guests included Michael and Dana Cohen, Ambassador Gilad Erdan (Permanent Representative of Israel to the U.N.), Ron Fisher, Jonathan Holtzman, Michael Moffson, Mark Moskowitz, Gail Propp, and James Taranto.

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The New York Exclusive by Columnist, Tony Bowles

Tony Bowles is one of the youngest sought journalists in the media world. He focuses on lifestyle, travel, entertainment, food, and more! Based in New York City