“Everybody knows that the Jewish National Fund (JNF) plants trees,” said Jeff Goodman, co-chair of the JNF Orange County Community Breakfast, a kickoff event for the newly revitalized Orange County branch of JNF on Sunday, September 11 at the Merage Jewish Community Center. “Trees are the lungs of Israel, and Israel is the only country in the world that entered the 21st century with more trees than it had the century before.”
“But trees are only 10 percent of what the JNF does,” he added. The organization is involved with water projects (reservoirs, irrigation and desalinization), historical sites (including Ammunition Hill, where Israel’s paratroopers are sworn in), forests (which are completely accessible), Aleh Negev (a facility serving 155 live-in disabled residents and 6,000 people on a part-time basis), farms that produce 60 percent of Israel’s vegetables and flowers, an indoor playground at Sderot (full of happy, smiling kids who can enjoy a terror-free environment), firefighters and programs in the Negev. The JNF is the largest landowner in Israel.
Event co-chair Deby Goodman introduced special guest speaker Micah Halpern, an expert on terrorism, the Middle East and Muslim Fundamentalism, who spoke on the topic, “Inside a Terrorist’s Mind.” According to Halpern, “Before 9/11, Americans believed that a modicum of terror was acceptable. They did not realize that they were targets although the same place was targeted 10 years before by the same people.” He added,” “At that time the US was not even playing the game of fighting terror. Now it is up to the plate and swinging, forming a nexus with Israel.”
Halpern related that terrorists share similar values and attack similar values, including freedom, equality and rights for women. He believes that terrorists are jealous of Israel for enriching and growing, because everything around it is desert.
“Last year a Jordanian pilot was shot down by ISIS and burned alive,” Halpern said. “His father said it was against the Koran to kill a believing Muslim, but if you don’ follow the principles of ISIS, you will be killed. A member of the supreme religious council objected and was killed. Other Sunni powers are fighting against ISIS. Al Queda looks moderate compared to ISIS, and ISIS is not about to disappear.”
Halpern mused that three of the four major US Presidential candidates had a Jewish connection and that Donald Trump’s grandchild just started Jewish day school. “People are concerned that the Jews can unit and create a sense of power,” he said.
According to Halpern, “Donors are givers, but contributors are partners. Make a link, and make a difference.”
He added, “When people are destroying, we’re ready to rebuild. We build better than anybody in the word. We’re a society of builders. Despite our obsession with history, it is not an end in itself. It is a tool for the future.”
The JNF, he said, is “committed and connected to the future of Israel.” When things are destroyed, “we build it bigger and better than ever.”
Halpern explained, “The JNF does things no one else can do. We transfer pride to ourselves and our children. We teach children to love Israel the way we do. The horizon is spectacular.”
According to JNF National Campaign Director Sharon Freedman, “JNF affirms Israel, acknowledges that Israel speaks for every one of us and believes in the power of family and the dignity of all people. Our mission is protecting the dignity of our homeland and the security of Israel.”
She added, “The benchmark of any charity is simple. Would it be missed if it weren’t around? Thanks to JNF, there is no water crisis in Israel, and we’re building new communities, building a medical center, paving the way for 300,000 new residents, helping firefighters, preserving Israel’s heritage sites, taking thousands of tourists to Israel, planting 250 million trees and building a living memorial.”
“JNF is your voice in Israel,” Freedman concluded. “Join our journey. We’re about the vision of Israel.”
For more information, please contact Lisa Grier, director, JNF Orange County, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (949) 260-0400 x986.