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Top 10 Non-Jews Positively Influencing the Jewish Future, 2014

January 1, 2015 9:40 pm 48 comments

Senate leader Mitch McConnell.

Five years have now passed since I first published my annual list of non-Jews who are worthy of recognition for their positive impact on Jewish lives and the Jewish state.

Looking back, it is fascinating to see how the list has evolved, with some personalities fading from prominence and others emerging to take their place. Some have remained constant throughout the years.

As I have pointed out in the past, my choices are by no means scientific and are primarily intended to prompt interest in this unique group of individuals. Hailing from various countries, ethnic backgrounds and religious groups, the list includes heads of state, business tycoons and spiritual and political leaders. While some of their contributions came through effort and sacrifice, for others they seemed like second nature, but all are surely worthy of our recognition. As such, I present my fifth annual list of the “Top 10 Non-Jews Positively Influencing the Jewish Future.”

The biggest milestone over the past year was Israel’s summer war against Hamas in Gaza, which saw lines drawn between those that supported Israel’s defensive campaign and those that called for the Jewish state to end its operations. The meteoric rise of renewed antisemitic expression during the war should have prompted world leaders to rise up and defend their Jewish populations. Few took sufficient steps, but some of the efforts were notable and are reflected on the list.

Also worth noting is that this year saw the publication of a book about philosemitism by one of the list’s alumni. In an article for the UK’s Telegraph famed British writer Julie Burchill announced that she decided to write Unchosen: The Memoirs of a Philosemite after discovering herself on the list.

At the time Burchill wrote of the revelation: “I all but hugged my substantial bulk with glee. Gone was the bitter experience of being recently routed from the synagogue. I was officially a friend of the Jews once more!”

Of course I welcome your feedback on my selections, and your recommendations for next year’s list, in the comments section below.

Annett Haskia with her soldier son.

10. Anett Haskia

Haskia, a Muslim-Arab Zionist hairdresser from the Israeli city of Acre made a name for herself during the summer’s Operation Protective Edge when she regularly appeared on television to defend Israel’s army.

A mother of three, her children serve in the IDF and she maintains an active social media presence. Recently she announced her candidacy to run for parliament in Israel’s Jewish Home political party and could serve as a significant positive inspiration to other members of Israel’s substantial Muslim-Arab population who traditionally side with the Palestinian narrative.

British government minister Eric Pickles. Photo: Wikicommons

9. Eric Pickles

Britain’s Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Pickles unveiled new laws this week to combat the country’s rise in antisemitism

The measures include funding for extra security at Jewish schools, and tough punishments for online hate crime as well as teaching schoolchildren about the Holocaust.

The Conservative politician is also a backer of Israeli-British trade and is supportive of the Conservative Friends of Israel group.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls. Photo: Wikipedia.

8. Manuel Valls

France’s Prime Minister Valls, the country’s former interior minister, has been a leader in the struggle against rampant violence facing Europe’s largest Jewish community.

Openly recognizing the twinning of anti-Israel and anti-Jewish sentiment, in July Valls condemned “an anti-Semite who hides his hatred of the Jew behind an appearance of anti-Zionism and the hatred of Israel.”

In 2002, while mayor of the Paris suburb of Evry, Valls joined the weekly synagogue walk after the local Jewish community faced violent attacks, signaling to the perpetrators that the Jews had a powerful ally, The Jerusalem Post reported.

“To many French Jews, Valls is something of a hero for his unusually robust defense of Israel and the French Jewish community,” the Post said. “His elevation is seen as a reassuring sign amid one of French Jewry’s most troublesome periods.”

Christians United for Israel founder Pastor John Hagee addresses the 33rd annual "A Night to Honor Israel" in San Antonio. Photo: Paul Wharton Photography.

7. John Hagee

Pastor Hagee’s Christian’s United for Israel has emerged as the world’s largest pro-Israel grassroots membership group. With over 1.2 million members CUFI has made it clear to the leaders of the US, Israel’s greatest ally, that support for Israel is far more widespread than just the Jewish community.

Outspoken, and criticized for his 1999 assertion that the Holocaust was allowed by God to compel Jews to move to Israel, Hagee later voiced genuine regret and has made contributions to the Jewish people so significant that any past insensitivities can be forgiven.

In the early days of Operation Protective Edge, Hagee’s group gathered in Washington DC some 5000 strong where the pastor told his flock, “We’ve come to Washington to ask our government to stop demanding for Israel to show restraint.”

Rupert Murdoch. Photo: wiki commons.

6. Rupert Murdoch

Many of the titles and channels owned by Murdoch’s News Corporation and Twenty-First Century Fox, 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 Zionist and philosemite.

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 .

At a dinner late last year for an Israeli charity Murdoch told the audience, “You know as I do that as Israel goes, so goes […] our morality and our very existence as freedom loving citizens of the world.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

5. Tony Abbott

The government of Australia’s Prime Minister Abbott has been the most pro-Israel in recent memory. In June it resolved to stop referring to East Jerusalem as “occupied” territory and to adopt additional similar steps.

During the failed United Nations Security Council vote this week to force an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank, Abbott’s Australia was the only country to join the US in opposing the move.

During Protective Edge the prime minister was firm in his defense of Israeli actions saying, “The problem in the Middle East is that in the end so many people are not prepared to accept Israel’s right to exist.”

Abbot has earned strong support from the country’s Jewish community.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Photo: World Economic Forum - Remy Steinegger/WikiMedia Commons.

4. Stephen Harper

As Prime Minister of Canada, Harper has consistently led those members of the international community who have risen to the defense of the Jewish state.

In support of Israel’s Gaza campaign, Harper was forthright.

“Canada is unequivocally behind Israel,” Harper said. “We support its right to defend itself, by itself, against these terror attacks, and urge Hamas to immediately cease their indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israeli civilians.”

In 2012, Harper ensured that his government was among the few that opposed the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral move for acceptance at the United Nations.

At a meeting in New York in 2013, 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.

Campaign photo of Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the Egyptian Defense Minister who has resigned to run for president. Photo: El-Sisi Campaign.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. Photo: El-Sisi Campaign.

3. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi

Perhaps an unexpected inclusion on the list, El-Sisi actually topped last year’s list for his unrelenting war against Hamas terrorists in Gaza, albeit likely for his own purposes.

El-Sisi has effectively stunted the flow of deadly weapons to the coastal enclave through shutting down hundreds of smuggling tunnels, and, in 2014, creating a substantial buffer zone between Sinai and the Strip.

Despite his heavy handed, autocratic rule Israeli officials have praised the impact El-Sisi has had, specifically as Hamas has proven to be the single group responsible for the most Jewish deaths over the past two decades.

During the summer’s war, El-Sisi all but forced Hamas to accept Israel’s ceasefire terms. Later, he reportedly went so far as to offer a segment of the Sinai peninsula as land for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

President Barack Obama meets with Senate Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell. Photo: Wiki Commons.

2. Mitch McConnell

As the incoming Senate majority leader, McConnell’s commitment to the US-Israel relationship has become more significant than ever.

Now spearheading domestic opposition to President Obama’s widely criticized foreign policy, McConnell and his Republicans may serve as the only obstacle to the Administration’s reckless and irresponsible pandering to the Iranian mullahs.

Additionally, he could lead the drive to cut funding from the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations in the event that unilateral moves towards Palestinian statehood and demonizing Israel continue apace.

During Protective Edge, McConnell ensured that domestic politics wouldn’t interfere in US funding for Israel’s lifesaving Iron Dome missile defense system by introducing an aid package that was independent of a controversial immigration bill.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

1. Narendra Modi

Since his sweeping ascension to India’s top job, Modi has used almost every opportunity to promote Israel-India ties.

In November, Bloomberg News reported that “Modi is openly boosting ties with Israel, strengthening a relationship that has largely grown outside of the public spotlight over the past two decades.”

The moves, which began with a meeting between Modi and Israeli Prime Minister Netanayhu, include billions in defense deals, and speculation that India is reconsidering its pro-Palestinian stance at the United Nations.

In November, the two allies successfully tested an advanced missile system, which was hailed by an adviser to the Indian defense minister as “an important milestone in the cooperation between India and Israel,” The Times of Israel reported.

In December, Modi tweeted a Chanukah greeting in Hebrew which wished his “Jewish friends a happy Chanukah! May this Festival of Lights and the festive season ring in peace, hope and well-being for all.”

For the Top 10 Non-Jews Positively Influencing the Jewish Future 2013 list click here. For the 2012 list click here, the 2011 list click here, and for the 2010 list click here.

The author is the Editor-in-Chief of The Algemeiner and director of the GJCF and can be e-mailed at defune@gjcf.com.

48 Comments

  • The parents of the author of this piece are to be congratulated for raising a special kind of stupid.

    Mitch McConnell. Really? The man who wouldn’t stand up against the Iran deal, and in effect has given Iran 150 Billion dollars for terrorism against Israel and America is being lauded? Enough said.

  • Drumeel Shah

    The only thing that I would change would be to have Dr P Mohamed Ali in this list http://bit.ly/1K3DjkI

  • PM Stephen Harper should have been listed #1.

  • I can’t prevent myself from – at least virtually – adding one more person to the list. He is not among the upper echelon of powers- on the contrary, he is persecuted by the upper echelons of Putin’s Russian regime. He is a Chechen, Mustafa Edilbiev: publicist, politician and one of the leaders of the human rights organization “Kaf Resurrected”. He is an author of many brilliant publications against anti-Semitism and anti-Semites. He himself is a victim of the outrageous anti-Semitism of Russia’s current regime, partly because of his novella “Ualla , Shekamoha!- Solomon, a magician”, which is about the fate of of a Jewish family in Russia. In an artistic form, he shows the terrible display of anti-Semitism in Russia today.

  • The stupidest thing I have ever read. The Journal has not only lowered its own standard but has thrown it out with any decency it had left

    • instead of a general denunciation, why don’t you set forth the reasons for your view? you do have reasons, right? so, if you do, present them. if you do not or if you cannot articulate them, you should seriously wonder why you have an opinion and why you felt compelled to share it.

  • There’s a big name missing from this list. How can anyone forget Brigitte Gabriel!

  • Roger Mendelson

    Amazing to see Tony Abbot in the top 10 list.He is generally not populat with Aussie Jews due to his ultra conservative views but he and Julie Bishop, the foreign minister, act totally out of conviction on this issue, regardless of the potential electoral backlash( there are many more Muslim voters than Jewish voters in Australia).
    K”ol Hakavod.

  • I’m sorry I have to resent Rupert Murdoch being named to the list. His only loyalty is to sensationalist journalism which is loyalty to the dollar and I personally remember a false report of an arms deal he recklessly published in 1981 which I blame for inciting Anwar Sadat’s assassination. He has no conscience in the pursuit of a headline

  • Yochanan BenDavid

    Great list. Do not forget Laurie Cardoza-Moore and http://www.pjtn.org. She has been a loud voice in the west to stand for Israel and the Jewish people.

  • raj kumar bhadana

    india and israel face the same jehadi challenge.while israel’s very existence is at stake,india has been bifurcated into two,because of muslim fanatics….while israel has been facing the challenge 24/7 from jehadis,india has also been at the receiving end of muslim fanaticism….we must come together to counter this abominable threat and show them their true place which is in the filth,not on the high table among comity of nations……i wish,israel the best and hope india will some day change its stance on palestine……JAI ISRAEL JAI HIND.

    • israeli chick

      I think India’s military and Israel’s worked together and were sharing information and training, but it angered terrorists, and gave them more incentive to attack India for working with Israel. I completely agree, they seem to have a lot in common and have the potential to be great allies.

  • Not only Modi, but whole India loves Israel. New Year wishes to Israel.

    • thank you. best to you, Raj and “raj” and all Israel’s friends in India, for great achievements in all your worthy endeavors.

    • Thanks, Raj. I am happy to say that I have had numerous Indian friends and colleagues, while living both in the US and (now) in Israel. I have always felt a special bond to the Indian people: your respect of culture, learning, hard work and extended family. You have an amazing, varied set of cultures, traditions and languages that reach back several millenia, as do the Jewish people. Like us, you have an amazing perspective on life and rich sense of humor. Unfortunately, we have a common enemy as well: militant Islam. My appreciation for India and the Indian people was greatly enhanced by our recent family visit to India. May we continue to work, learn and thrive together!

  • Great list. Harper needs be height on the list.
    Please continue to build the list to Top 50.
    Thank you for the advocacy effect of your work.

    Please create also a list of US Senators and Congressmem.

  • Néstor Garrido

    In the Spanish speaking countries, two figures must have been in this list: Pilar Rahola, a leftist ex parliament member, from Barcelona, Spain, who writes about Israel’s right to existence, and pastor William Soto, a Puerto Rican who supports Israel through his organization Embajada Mundial por la Paz.

  • Sheina Lerman

    While the Harper government here in Canada has been supportive of Israel, Harper’s domestic policy has been a disaster. He has gutted environmental laws, cut social services to the people who need it most, and attacked our democratic institutions, including our electoral system. As a Jewish Canadian, I am not a one issue voter. Support for Israel is important. But, I have to vote for people who create domestic policies and laws that are more progressive and fair than what Harper and his Conservatives have done. I, along with millions of other Canadians, are counting the minutes until his government is kicked out of office.

    • DianneWitzell

      Unfortunately, neither the Liberals nor the NDP can be counted on to withstand the demands of the unelected global elite any more than the Conservatives withstood it, because the global elite was behind those policies you mention. Similar things have been going on all over the world, with just a few holdouts here and there on isolated issues. Because of the stranglehold the global elites have on the echelons of power, whatever government is elected here in Canada will largely fall into line, as will governments around the world. But while Harper can be counted on to stand with Israel, the leaders of the other parties cannot. They would throw Israel under the bus in a heartbeat and if Israel is left with no defenders, THAT is when World War III, which is already in the making, will begin and it will affect the WHOLE world, NOT just Israel!

  • Mr. Efune,

    I don’t believe that in any of your five lists that you have ever included Charles Davison, the (now former) CEO of Noble Energy, whose investments in Israel’s natural gas industry has greatly changed Israel’s political and economic fortunes.

    Noble wrote off any chance of ever doing business with the Islamic world by taking on this project.

    It is too bad that Israel has repaid Noble by backstabbing the company.

  • Lauren Goldman

    Sometimes, when darkness seems to be everywhere, seeing supporters of our homeland from a diversity of places and backgrounds is so encouraging. Thank you to all on this list.

  • I would like to propose Dr Denis MacEoin for next years list . A remarkable friend of the Jewish people and defender of Israel . His articles , letters are too numerous to mention but I will attach one letter to the Edinburgh University Students Association by way of example .

    http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/55250/dr-denis-maceoins-letter-edinburgh-university-students-association

    Not all friends are high profile . There are so many more who quietly go about their mission to tell the truth about Israel and counter the lies , hate and propaganda disseminated by those that obsessively seek to harm and ultimately see its demise .Dr MacEoin is one such person .

  • An exceptionally difficult task to get the list down to 10 and then to rank those ten. No surprise that the USA, UK, Canada and Australia are among the friends of Israel. Good to see leaders of Egypt and India on the list.The list reminds us that all news is not bad news!

  • A list that will piss off American Jewish liberals everywhere.

  • TX MY FRIEND SO TRUE! THEY ARE THE BLESSED AND SO ARE YOU SMMA! SHALOM!

  • THECONCEPT IS RIGHT ON 2THOUGHTS 1 THE LIST SHOULD BE 18 2 DO IT BY ALPHABET THEY ARE ALL #1,S

  • Without a doubt there are, Baruch HaSh-m, philosemites in the world. But the whole point really centers on the unchangeable law of Nature, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (“Rashbi’s”) principle that “It is a known halacha that Esau hates Yaakov” (Sifrei Bmidbar 69). This is not an intrinsic hatred of the non-Jewish world towards Yaakov (and in this context the Arab-Muslim world is included under “Esau”), but rather a hatred of jealously and hurt.

    There is the sense that we represent the selfishness of the world, and keep the blessings to which we have the key, to ourselves. That is, that our unity, our “shalom” (the vessel of bracha), is egoistic like any other nations and is unreal. As such, what blessing we get, we keep.

    When, on the other hand, it is perceived that our national unity strives to the altruistic ideal where we match to the ultimate Unity above, and transmit those blessing as a light to the nations, a prism taking the blinding white light into a palatable spectrum of 7(0) below–then hatred naturally turns to love. The key point is to teach this type of unity to the nations in their own realities, unifying them altruistically and naturally they will unify with each other and us to form a continuum of blessing known as the Messianic Age. For the Or Moshiach (Light of Messiah) can only pass its colorful glory through a unified crystal of altruism.

    If it hits opaque, absorbent egoistic straw, the result will be (hell)fire. That conflagration appears to the Jewish People in the form of anti-Semitism, to the world as its various troubles–unhappiness.

    Really, philo and anti-Semitism are a scale of balance–for the true rule is that Jews are news. Deep down, no one is neutral about Jews, there is either a sense of love and admiration, or hatred and despising. [We are as the stars, or as the sands of the seashore (read “dirt.”)]

    Our job, ultimately, is mutual-concern, responsibility, guarantee, and love. Love above all hatred of differences among Jews, political, religious, or otherwise. The love of a family that respects differences as important unique organs. And if a difference is perceived as evil–we’ll, are we not to serve G-d with both our inclinations, “BeChol Levovcha?”

    Lets tip the scales so favorably in 2015, that Mr. Efune will be flooded with excellent choice for his next list.

  • What about Canon Andrew White!!! Canon Andrew is conceivably the most important person in the search for common ground among Israel and her neighbours. Canon Andrew was the only person who took care of the Jews of Baghdad, providing them with services and a Pesach Seder……………………… Canon Andrew White should be number one!!!

  • You left out a few very important names, but truly, at the top of the list should be Chloe Simone Valdary – https://www.facebook.com/chloe.valdary?fref=ts – who, as a student, has done a remarkable job in teaching and encouraging students and others alike why they should support Israel. Even as she continues her university studies, Chloe is a Consultant with CAMERA and President of Allies of Israel https://www.facebook.com/AlliesofIsraelUNO/info?tab=overview.

  • גרגורי

    Great stuff
    Would be interested in who is in a top 25 or 50 list.
    Happy 2015 everybody

  • The only thing that I would change would be to have Stephen Harper moved to the top spot.

    • Kenneth D Hegler

      Agree with moving Harper to the top of the list.

      Canada stands with Israel, as with the Ukraine.

      Freedom for one and all. Tough stand taken by our PM.

      Canadians are proud of this. Bullies need to be stood up to!

  • On behalf of my associates in the US Department of Defense, I thank you for this very informative list.

  • Looks good. Specially Modi. Someone finally who knows how to deal with Islamists and fanatics.

  • You aced it, Dovid.

  • The best list , love it .

  • Mireille Mechoullam

    Thank G-d for the few but effective super human being who know what’s right from wrong and defending Israel.

    G-d bless them and a big THANK YOU from me.

  • Charles D. Gelfand

    I agree wirth you 100%
    It’s obvious you are well informed and most intelligent.

  • Very interesting reading and a well-rounded list. Thank you.

    • Very perceptive
      Your insight is praiseworthy !
      May all these only grow in their influence and attract many others in discerning enduring values

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