Since publishing my first annual list of non-Jews who have wielded significant positive influence over the Jewish future, it seems that the popularity of the practice of list-making has ballooned. It is my sincere hope, however, that this list merits special attention, both in the Jewish world and beyond, as the individuals who are featured herein are truly worthy of recognition.
A great deal has changed over the last year, and a number of previously unheard of personalities have emerged as great friends of the Jewish people, while others have become less active. For this reason, I am committed to compiling and developing this list as a regular endeavor, and as such I present the 4th annual lineup.
My candidates have been selected from around the world and include representatives of a number of different ethnic groups. The list includes political, religious, and business leaders among others, all of whom have had a significant, constructive impact on Israel and/or the global Jewish community.
Although by no means an exact science, my aim in this compilation is to provide some insight into the playing field of this unique group. Additionally, I aim to bring recognition to their often courageous, sometimes unacknowledged, activities on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.
Of course I welcome your feedback on my selections, and your recommendations for next year’s list, in the comments section below.
10. Father Gabriel Naddaf
Hailing from the village of Yaffia, situated between Migdal Ha’emek and Nazareth, Naddaf is an Eastern Orthodox priest who has become a leader in the drive for Christian enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces.
Naddaf has undertaken this effort at great personal risk and has been subject to threats. Nevertheless, the movement has seen success, as Christian enlistment in the IDF tripled in 2013.
Describing him as “The Good Father” in a recent profile piece, the Jerusalem Post said that “Father Gabriel Naddaf has reached the conclusion that Christian Arabs residing in Israel must link their fortunes to the Jewish state.”
“Our goal is to guard the Holy Land and the State of Israel. We have broken the barrier of fear – the state deserves that we do our part in defending it,” he said, in a meeting earlier this year with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who recognized his efforts.
9. John Chambers
Cisco CEO Chambers has jumped headfirst into the Israeli market. A regular visitor to the country, Israel became a strategic powerhouse for his company when it acquired NDS for $5 billion last year.
Six months after promising “You’ll see us expand here soon,” Cisco acquired Israeli company Intucell for $475 million.
Ahead of a recent visit, he said, “Israel is a global leader in innovation, and Cisco is proud of its longstanding commitment to the country.”
Chambers has even tried his hand at peace-making, and was featured in a July Forbes magazine cover story entitled “Peace Through Profits” advocating enhanced business co-operation between Israelis and Palestinian Arabs.
Strong statements of belief in Israel’s economic prowess from a global CEO like Chambers are vital for securing Israel’s continued fiscal resilience.
8. Li Ka-shing
Thought to be the richest person in Asia, Li has an estimated net worth of $28.8 billion. Last month his foundation announced a $130 million donation to Israel’s Technion University to build an academy as a joint venture with China’s Shantou University.
According to the Jerusalem Post, the grant includes profits from the foundation’s 2011 investment in Israeli mobile app Waze.
7. Petr NeÄas.
A week after the United Nations voted to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status last year, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu flew to the Czech Republic to thank NeÄas, its Prime Minister at the time, for being the only country in Europe to vote against the move. “Thank you for your country’s opposition to the one-sided resolution at the United Nations; thank you for your friendship; thank you for your courage,” Netanyahu told NeÄas.
Israel has “no better friends in Europe than the Czech Republic,” Netanyahu said during a visit to the country in 2012.
“We strictly refuse delegitimization and any boycott of the state of Israel. We unequivocally support Israel’s right to defend against terrorist attacks,” Necas said at the time.
NeÄas is the most recent in a long line of Czech leaders committed to the Jewish state.
6. Manmohan Singh
Trade and diplomatic relations between Israel and India have been on the fast track since the start of Singh’s premiership, and the two countries “are emerging as a mature, dependable, and accommodating couple,” according to a Middle East Forum paper.
In a recent visit to India to discuss a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries, Israel’s Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said that the bilateral trade (between India and Israel) “could easily be doubled in the next five years.”
Currently, Israel is India’s second largest supplier of military equipment, and India is the second-largest Asian economic partner of Israel. Trade between the two countries now stands at $5 billion, excluding defense contracts.
5. Angela Merkel
Recently re-elected with a powerful majority as Germany’s Chancellor, Merkel has been an outspoken supporter of Israel and has been vigilant in ensuring the security of Germany’s Jewish community.
Merkel offered strong support for circumcision shortly after a local district court ban on the practice. “I do not want Germany to be the only country in the world where Jews cannot practice their rituals. Otherwise we will become a laughing stock,” she was quoted as saying.
In August, Merkel became the first German leader to visit the Dachau concentration camp.
In her weekly podcast at the time, Merkel warned that Europeans must remain vigilant against Holocaust deniers and right-wing extremists. “We must never allow such ideas to have a place in our democratic Europe,” she said, adding that her trip to Dachau would be with “feelings of shame and dismay”.
Earlier this year, Germany delivered its fifth Dolphin-class nuclear capable submarine to Israel, showing its commitment to the Jewish state’s security needs.
4. Rupert Murdoch
The titles owned by Murdoch’s News Corporation have, for the most part, covered stories relating to Jews and Israel in a balanced and fair manner, and Murdoch himself has described himself as an ardent philo-Semite.
Murdoch has been recognized by a number of major Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Committee, the Anti Defamation League, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage .
“To my mind, that is the grand promise of Zionism: that Israel exists so that Jews can protect themselves,” he said last year, concluding, “I believe that it is no longer just Israel’s survival at stake but our own.”
3. Stephen Harper
As Prime Minister of Canada, Harper ensured that his country, along with the Czech Republic, would be among the few that opposed the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral UN move last year.
At a recent meeting in New York, Harper said that “There is nothing more short sighted in Western capitals in our time than the softening support for Israel,” according to a Wall Street Journal report. Israel, he said, “is the one strong stable democratic western ally that we have in” the Middle East.
Recent reports revealed that the Canadian arm of the Jewish National Fund is raising funds to build a bird center in Israel named for the leader.
“Under the direction of Prime Minister Harper, Canada is now a leader in the international fight against anti-Semitism and raising awareness of the heinous crimes of the Holocaust,” the organization wrote.
2. Pope Francis I
Just seven months into the job, the new Pope has shown a warmth towards Jews and Judaism that is unparalleled.
“It’s a contradiction that a Christian is anti-Semitic: His roots are Jewish,” the Pontiff told an audience of Jewish leaders last week. Last month, in an open letter appearing in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica he praised the Jewish people for having “kept their faith in God” despite centuries of persecution.
Francis I has already scheduled a trip to Israel, and hosted his close friend, Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka, at his residence over Sukkot. “He cares for me, and controls everything regarding my food to make sure it is all kosher, and according to my religious tradition,” the rabbi said of his friend the Pope.
1. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
A controversial figure to say the least, since El-Sisi , the commander of Egypt’s army, rose to power, co-operation between the country’s military and Israeli security forces in combating Sinai and Gaza based terror groups has been unprecedented.
“The Egyptian Army has done great things in the past two months, more than they had done in the past two decades,” an Israeli official told The Algemeiner last week, and a recent Wall Street Journal report detailed the extent of that co-operation.
According to reports, the Egyptian military has shut down up to 90% of smuggling tunnels running from the Sinai into the Hamas controlled Gaza strip, effectively cutting off a crucial supply route for weapons used by the terror group against Israel.
While under the leadership of his predecessor, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi, the cornerstone peace treaty between Israel and Egypt appeared to be under constant question, for now, El-Sisi’s rule has brought back Israeli confidence in its relationship with its southern neighbor.