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Pro-Israel organizations present at St. Anselm

Union Leader Correspondent

August 01. 2012 11:00PM
Diane Covert, a pro-Israel artist and media professional, addresses a networking event for NH4Israel at St. Anselm College. (Simon Rios/Union Leader Correspondent)

GOFFSTOWN - Born in Cairo in 1945, Israel Bonan was forced to flee Egypt after the Six Day Arab-Israeli War in 1967.

Bonan is one of the Mizrahi, Jews born either in Iran or one of the Arab countries. He said that in spite of the number of Jews exiled from those countries, there is almost no talk of them.

Bonan spoke Wednesday at a networking event of New Hampshire for Israel, a local nonprofit organization aimed at boosting support for the Jewish State.

'When we speak to the Middle East and we bring up the subject of refugees, it's like there's a homing device that takes you to the (Palestinian) refugee camps and stops there,' Bonan said. 'Nothing could be further from the truth.'

Bonan was among over 14 people, representing a wide swath of pro-Israel organizations, at St. Anselm College.

'What caused the historical imbalance?' he asked, citing the 726,000 Palestinian refugees that resulted from the 1948 war, and the 856,000 Jews evicted from Middle Eastern countries between 1948 and 1977.

The imbalance was caused 'because the Jews did not wish to become permanent victims, and we chose instead to move on with our life, and so we became invisible, forgotten.'

Alex Koifman, president of the Boston-based Russian Jewish Community Foundation, spoke of his life in Soviet Belarus.

'What I understood back then is standing for Israel helped me all my life,' he said. 'If I didn't stand for Israel back then, I would still be in the Soviet Union.'

Koifman said his first stop upon leaving Belarus at 19 was Vienna, where a group of Jews took him in.

'Together we survive because we have that common enemy, and divided we are going to lose,' he said.

Harry Doutt, a local organizer for the pro-national security organization Act! For America, warned of pro-Islam bias in grade school textbooks.

'We're not calling for stopping teaching Islam in school, nor are we asking that it be taught unfairly or negatively. But we're asking that the same rigor be applied,' to the way other religions are taught, Doutt said.

Activist Anna Kolodner spoke about the newly released film 'Judeophobia,' which addresses the rise of a new anti-Semitism in the world.

'We're living now in a climate ... where it's comfortable, it's easy to talk about your anti-Semitism,' she said. 'Anti-Semitism is now out in the open, it's not underground anymore.'

Pastor Thomas Peetz, spiritual leader of The Word of Life Church in Concord, was one of the Christian speakers. Peetz spoke of the tepid support for Israel on college campuses, pointing to 'Mideast funding' as the cause.

'This means that less than one-third of the nation's newest voters take a firm pro-Israel stance,' he said.

By working with the organization Christians United for Israel, Peetz hopes for a change. It's already happening, he said, through CUFI on Campus, an organization formed to combat anti-Semitism and raise awareness of Israel at colleges and universities.

Dan Levenson, director of public affairs at the Israeli consulate in Boston, attacked the 'boycott, divest, sanctions movement,' to pressure Israel's policies on the Palestinians.

Gail Thomas, vice president of Christians and Jews United for Israel, said 'as people have come together, the Jewish community and the Christian community, we have found just a wonderful atmosphere of a common goal and a common love and a common purpose that drives us and gives us full meaning,' Thomas said.

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