The crowd roared when Michele Bachmann proclaimed that the northern Samarian town of Bet El “must remain and always will remain a part of Israel.”
Most of the 1,000 guests at the American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva Center’s 30th annual dinner, last week at the Marriott Marquis on Broadway, continued to applaud vociferously as the Minnesota congresswoman and wannabe Republican presidential candidate expressed her robust support for Israel’s future.
Dr. Avinoam Bitton, program chairman of the dinner, presented awards to Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Brian Decker, Mark Langfan and Shelley and Ronnie Summers, longtime backers of Bet El.
The congresswoman insisted that the recent cessation of hostilities in Gaza is an “empty” truce. “It’s buying time for the terrorists to rearm.”
Israel, she said, originally gave up Gaza thinking it would get peace in return. “Now our current administration is pressuring Israel to cede even more. This is nothing but foolishness and suicidal. The president has said that the 1967 borders is where the Palestinian borders should begin. In my opinion, that is not negotiable.”
The congresswoman called upon President Obama to declare Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, and stop sending to the Palestinians money that we borrow from China.
“This is God’s land for you,” she said. “God truly blesses those who bless Israel. I believe our destinies are intertwined. America must always be Israel’s most reliable defender in the world.”
American Friends honorary chairman Eugen Gluck teamed up with Yom Kippur War hero Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz to establish Bet El in 1977 on a tract of barren land a few miles north of Jerusalem and a stone’s throw from Ramallah. The community has grown from a few trailers to a town with a diverse population of 1,300 families, while Katz became member of Knesset.
Every Succot Eugen and his wife Jean bring two busloads of American supporters to see how Bet El has grown, and to dedicate another building. They have attached their name to several structures, including a dining hall, residences, athletic facility and security installation.
Three years before the founding of Bet El, after graduating from high school, the teenage Bachmann went to Israel for the summer. She worked on a kibbutz. “My job was to pick weeds in the cotton field,” she said. “Send your children there—it’s good for motivation.”