By: Moshe I. Kinderlehrer  | 

Dole Pledges Support for Israel at Channukah Dinner (Vol. 60, Issue 6)

Two Sundays ago, YU held its annual Channukah Dinner at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, bestowing honorary doctorates on incoming Senate majority leader Robert Dole and eight others. Over one thousand people attended the event.

At the Academic Convocation preceding the dinner, Senator Dole, in his first appearance in New York City since the recent elections, began by extending congratulations to YU President Dr. Norman Lamm for reaching the 18th year of his presidency. Noting the symbolism in the number eighteen, Dole went on to wish both Dr. Lamm and the University “long life and continued success.”

Speaking softly to the packed room, Dole utilized the podium to pledge continued US support for Israel in the incoming Republican-led Congress. Drawing much applause, Dole noted, “Simply put, we have no closer ally than Israel… And there can be no doubt US assistance to Israel has advanced our shared interests and values in a region unfortunately not noted for freedom and democracy.” Raising the issue of the ongoing peace talks, Dole first praised the “historic progress” achieved so far with the Palestinians and Jordan’s King Hussein, He then went on to qualify the steps taken so far, pointing out that “Israel still faces many serious threats. Many Palestinians still do not accept the right of Israelis to live in peace and security... The benefits of peace with the PLO remain elusive.”

Citing serious concerns about the fiscal accountability of the Palestinian Authority in administering the hundreds of millions of dollars pledged by the international community, Dole suggested that ways be developed “to deliver aid directly to the Palestinian people.” He did not divulge any details describing how such a procedure would work.

The senator also noted that any peace agreement reached with Syria would have to be backed up by “deeds and not words,” calling upon Syria’s President Hafez Assad to pursue peace as a “strategic course rather than a tactical opportunity.” As for US involvement in maintaining any peace agreement reached with Syria, Dole asserted that Congress would be more favorable to a small (US) contribution to a multinational force of monitors than it would be to “a division-size American-only force on the Golan Heights.” 

Before conclusion his fifteen-minute foreign policy address, Dole sharply criticized the failure of the WEst, most notably the UN and NATO, in failing to “act on its promises and commitments to Bosnia.” “ America,” Dole explained, “is still the cop on the beat. We are the world’s only economic, military, and political superpower. And we must lead.” 

At the Convocation which was held in the eighteenth floor Starlight Roof, eight other received honorary degrees. They were: Leslie Wexner, the founder and chairman of The Limited Inc.; University Benefactor Miriam Glaubacj; Gladys Ritter Livingston, AECOM Benefactor; YU Board of Trustees member Morry Weiss, chairman and CEO of American Greetings Corp.; Rabbi Louis Bernstein, longtime YU Jewish studies professor and two-time president fo the Rabbinical Council of America; Zvi Kolitz, author, journalist, and film producer; Jeffrey Steiner, chairman and president of the Fairchild Corp.; and David Zysman, YU’s retiring Vice President for Development. 

To open the dinner, eighteen students from YC and SCW marched onto the stage and lit eighteen meorahs, in part symbolizing the eighteen years of Dr. Lamm’s tenure as president as well as “chai.” The dinner was chaired by Edgar Bronfman, president of the World Jewish COngress and Chairman and CEO of The Seagram Company Ltd. 

Over a three-course dinner featuring duck, asparagus soup, and veal, the audience listened to honoree Leslie Wexner speak on the importance of civil service to the Jewish community. He stressed the need for young Jews to begin to civil service to the Jewish community. He stressed the need for young Jews to begin to heighten their passion and commitment to Judaism, as well as the need for Jews to serve their communities not only as volunteers but as “civil servants.”

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin offered videotaped greetings to the assembly. His short remarks touched on the theme of freedom and its link to Chanukah. He also singled out honoree David Zysman for his tremendous service in the name of Yeshiva University and the State of Israel.

Dinner A Success

By all accounts, the dinner was a tremendous success for YU, capping offan excellent year for its various fund-raising activities. At the dinner, YU announced that $65 million had been raised so far in 1994. According to the shortly retiring David Zysman, the current pace of YU’s fundraising efforts is “fifteen percent ahead of last year.” He also noted that 21 new Benefactors were added this year. YU Benefactors are donors who have given over one million dollars to the University.

Students Attending 

Over thirty students from YC and SCW attended the event. Though they performed such tasks as escorting the dignitaries and robing those involved in the Convocation ceremonies and dinner, most enjoyed the chance to meet with the guests at the dinner, as well as to partake of the sumptuous meal served at the $500 a-plate dinner. Overall, it was a positive experience for those involved. SOY Preesident Yitzchak Book expressed his satisfaction with the dinner. “The duck was better than the veal… but it was a shame that SOY could not run a dreidel game between Edgar Bronfman and Leslie Wexner,” he noted.