Two years ago, following the release of the Jerusalem Post’s first list of the world’s 50 most influential Jews, I was inspired to initiate an annual list of my own. Not of Jews, but of non- Jews, specifically those who are most positively influencing the Jewish future.
Since last year’s list, much has changed. New personalities have emerged, others have faded, some have remained, but the importance of bringing attention to this group is constant. For this reason I am committed to publishing and developing this list as a regular endeavor, and as such I present the 3nd annual list.
Similar to the criteria used by other list makers, my candidates have been chosen from around the world, and all walks of life. The list includes world leaders, journalists, activists and business giants among others, all of whom have made a significant and constructive impact on Israel and/or the Jewish world.
Although by no means an exact science, my aim in this compilation is to provide some insight into the playing field of this unique and important group. Additionally I aim to bring recognition to their often courageous, sometimes unacknowledged, activities on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.
10. Pilar Rahola
Spanish Journalist, Politician.
As a writer, and former politician, Rahola is active in combating anti-Semitism and what she labels the ‘hypocrisy’ of left wing politicians with regards to Israel and Zionism.
9. Bob Costas
Costas came out front and center to highlight the request of Israeli widows of the Munich ’72 massacre. They had called on the International Olympic Committee to hold a moment of silence during the opening ceremony of this year’s games to acknowledge the 11 Israeli athletes and coaches killed by PLO terrorists. His advocacy earns him a special mention on the list.
8. Jose Maria Aznar
Former Spanish Prime Minister.
Aznar founded the Friends of Israel Initiative in 2010 with the stated goal to “counter the attempts to delegitimize the State of Israel and its right to live in peace within safe and defensible borders.”
This year he has been an important voice for Israel in Europe, penning an op-ed in the London Times last month entitled “How Dare the World Shun Israel on Terrorism.”
His unique organization provides a strong voice for Israel in circles where it might otherwise not be heard.
7. Michael Gove
British Secretary of State for Education.
A rising star in British politics, Gove had already shown his colors as a great friend of Israel and the Jewish community in his former role as a London Times Editor.
Speaking at a UJIA fundraiser last year, he said, “I will defend Israel’s right to exist as long as I have breath in my body.”
In his current role he has been particularly active in stamping out curriculum anti-Semitism that appeared on more than one occasion, and he has shown support for Jewish education.
6. Eric Schmidt
Among the world’s most respected technology industry leaders, Schmidt’s praise of the Jewish state during a visit this past June could not have been more emphatic. “There are no disadvantages to investing in Israel – just advantages,” he was quoted as saying. “Israel has the most important high-tech center in the world after the US.”
Glowing reviews and endorsements of the Israeli economic experience from leaders such as Schmidt go a long way in inspiring global investor confidence in Israeli markets.
5. Ayoob Kara
Knesset Member, Deputy Israeli Minister.
A member of Israel’s governing Likud party, Kara is a Druze Israeli who has been recognized as the Knesset’s most pro-Israel Arab, serving as a role model and example to other Arab Israelis.
In his position as Deputy Minister of the Development of the Negev and the Galilee, he has worked to build the development of Jewish communities in these areas and has championed a strong stance against the Iranian threat.
4. Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister of India.
Indian officials said that the warships, which are equipped with advanced electronic sensors and missile systems, show “the importance India attaches to the growing Indo-Israeli relations, and continued cooperation and engagement between the two countries is expected to grow.”
A rising world power, this relationship remains among Israel’s most important, and as India’s Prime Minister, Singh is largely responsible for cultivating and developing this vital alliance.
3. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada.
Ranked number one on last year’s list, Harper’s support for Israel and friendship to Canada’s Jewish community has been unwavering.
In June of this year it was revealed that his Defense Minister Peter MacKay told Israel’s top military commander at the time, Maj.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, during a 2011 visit to the Middle East that “a threat to Israel is a threat to Canada.”
Notably, last year he blocked a G8 resolution that would have supported President Obama’s 2011 Middle East policy speech, mentioning the call for a Palestinian State based on the 1967 lines, while not incorporating other elements of the speech.
2. Rupert Murdoch
CEO of News Corporation.
It has been a rough year for Murdoch as his News International faced public inquiries and scandal. He remains however, the patriarch of an unparalleled international media conglomerate that has stood out for its overall fair portrayal of Israel in related news items.
Murdoch, and his right hand Roger Ailes, were honored in May of this year at Manhattan’s Museum of Jewish Heritage where he said, “To my mind, that is the grand promise of Zionism: that Israel exists so that Jews can protect themselves.” He concluded, “I believe that it is no longer just Israel’s survival at stake but our own.”
1. Mitt Romney
U.S. Presidential Candidate.
Love or hate his politics, Romney’s vocal support for Israel as a contender for the world’s top job, has challenged the incumbent and many Americans to rediscover their own understanding of the United States’ special relationship with the Jewish state.
His tough stance on Iran has put the Ayatollahs on notice. In his recent trip to the Holy Land, he acknowledged Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and cited the historic connection of the Jewish people with the land, which has gone a long way in underlining the Jewish narrative regarding Israel on the world stage, thereby earning him the top spot this year.