Philippines, Recovering From Typhoon, Honored by JDC for WWII Rescue Effort

December 19, 2013 1:31 am 0 comments

Penny Blumenstein, the new president of JDC, presents José L. Cuisía, Philippine ambassador to the United States, with JDC’s Or L’Olam Award on Dec. 11 in Washington, DC. Photo: Richard Greenhouse for JDC.

JNS.org - WASHINGTON—Thanking one Asian country for its kindness towards Jews faced with annihilation 75 years ago and warning another not to even think about harming Israel, top Jewish officials at a Dec. 11 dinner wrapped up three days of meetings that marked the 100th anniversary of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

José L. Cuisía, Philippine ambassador to the United States, accepted the JDC’s Or L’Olam Award on behalf of his country for giving refuge to 1,305 Jews fleeing Nazi Germany during World War II. At the same event, U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob “Jack” Lew—the highest-ranking Jew in the Obama administration—cautioned any CEO, general counsel or business executives to “think again” before trying to evade international sanctions against Iran or helping the Islamic Republic acquire nuclear weapons.

About 400 guests attended the JDC centennial dinner at Washington’s Ronald Reagan International Trade Center. The evening, emceed by CNNanchorman Wolf Blitzer, also featured short presentations by noted sexologist Dr. Ruth Westheimer and New York businessman Abe Biderman, who was recently elected co-chairman of the World Jewish Restitution Organization. In addition, participants enjoyed a medley of Israeli songs performed by the University of Maryland’s Kol Sasson choir.

“The Philippines was the only Asian country that voted for the creation of Israel in 1947, and we heroically helped save the lives of many Jews at a time when most other doors were shut,” Cuisía said as he accepted Or L’Olam (Light Unto the World) Award from philanthropist Penny Blumenstein, the new president of JDC.

Among those rescued by the Philippines under its wartime president, Manuel Quezón, were the mother and grandparents of Teaneck, NJ, resident Danny Pins—a disaster-relief expert who currently leads the JDC’s humanitarian efforts in that country.

“While we pay tribute to the Philippines for its role in saving 1,305 people, we Filipinos also pay homage to our Jewish friends for helping save the lives of our people just over a month ago, when Typhoon Haiyan tore across the Philippines, leaving behind a trail of death and destruction,” said Cuisía.

In addition to more than 6,000 killed, Typhoon Haiyan injured at least 27,000 people and displaced an estimated 3.9 million Filipinos from their homes.

“During this period, among the first humanitarian organizations on the ground was the JDC, which raised more than $1.6 million for clean water and sanitation to victims in affected areas,” Cuisía said. “JDC also worked with 148 members of the Israel Defense Forces deployed in the Philippines, assisted in search and rescue, and helped reconstruct damaged buildings and restore water supplies. The JDC also supported the Israeli field hospital that treated 2,800 patients, including 900 children.”

In addition, Israeli doctors performed 60 emergency surgeries and delivered 66 babies, one of whom was a boy named “Israel.”

“There is a great sense of loss and grief across the Philippines. However, we are able to draw on our faith in a just and compassionate God,” said the ambassador. “We see His face, and we certainly feel His presence through the work of our Jewish brothers and sisters. I assure you that the Filipino people will always remember the kind gestures you have extended to us.”

Like Cuisía, Lew was honored by the JDC, which bestowed upon him its Morgenthau Award to commemorate the group’s 100 years of partnership with the U.S. government. The son of Polish immigrants, Lew said the U.S. “has a moral obligation” to use all the diplomatic and economic means at its disposal to make Iran give up its nuclear ambitious—while reserving force as a last resort.

The treasury secretary said that in comparison with the cost global sanctions have imposed on Iran’s economy, the relief package Washington offered Tehran under the interim nuclear deal reached last month in Geneva is “quite modest”—amounting to no more than $7 billion. A Dec. 11 report in Haaretz, however, cited security sources in Israel who said the relief could amount to $20 billion.

Lew said the current Iran sanctions framework immobilizes $100 billion in Iranian foreign-exchange holdings while causing Iran to lose $30 billion in oil revenues during the six months the interim nuclear deal remains in effect.

“This agreement does not prevent us from implementing existing sanctions or imposing new sanctions. All of our targeted sanctions on Iran’s sponsorship of groups like Hezbollah remain at full strength, so any CEO or businessperson who wants to test our resolve better think again,” he said.

The interim nuclear deal allows Iran to continue production of 3.5-percent enriched uranium while the agreement is in force, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli leaders, as well as advocates for new sanctions in Congress, believe a final deal with Iran should halt all enrichment.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.