Business, Political Leaders Celebrate “Startup” Success at AIFL Gala
The fifth annual “Israel Day” at the New York Stock Exchange, a project of the America-Israel Chamber of Commerce and the NYSE, was capped with a celebratory gala dinner hosted by The America-Israel Friendship League (AIFL) at New York’s Plaza Hotel. AIFL Chairman Kenneth Bialkin welcomed representatives of the business and diplomatic communities, including Egypt’s Ambassador to the United Nations. Special salutation was extended to a group of American military veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars who had visited Israel to share experiences with IDF veterans who have suffered similar injuries.
The annual Partners for Democracy Award Dinner, according to the AIFL “recognizes and celebrates the many wonderful contributions made by Americans and Israelis towards the advancement of peace and understanding, the strengthening of relations and common bonds, and the enhancement of mutual respect between our democracies and citizens.” The 2011 dinner marked the organization’s 40th annual Gala, and coincided with the 64th anniversary of the United Nation resolution authorizing the creation of the Jewish state, known as “Partition Day.”
Warmed by the music of Peter Yarrow who sang a special edition of his iconic “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” the evening was highlighted by the vibrant commentary of an expert panel including Israel’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman, former New York Mayor Edward Koch, and author Dan Senor, moderated by venture capitalist Jonathan Medved. Their discussion focused on Israel’s unique ability to form, encourage, initiate, and fund “start-up” companies and the country’s ability to affect the international economy.
The special contribution of Dan Senor and his writing partner, Saul Singer, authors of “Startup Nation,” was honored with the Partners for Democracy Award. Better Place executives Idan Ofer and Shai Agassi, developers of the electric vehicle charging stations, soon to be in place throughout Israel, and in future, worldwide, were similarly honored.
The American-Israeli Friendship League gets business and political leaders, as well as students from throughout America “on the ground” in Israel. Bringing people to Israel, said former Ambassador Gillerman is, “the only way to change the narrative of Israel to a place of innovation and beauty.” In his greetings earlier in the evening, Ambassador Ido Aharoni, Consul General of Israel in New York, had noted that “Being creative is who we are…It’s in our DNA.”