October 24, 2011

U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman: 'We're a Generation That's Literally Blessed'

The independent Connecticut senator was the keynote speaker during the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Midatlantic Chapter benefit held Sunday in Pikesville.

Melissa Schidman, left, Jeremy Diamond, center and Helen Diamond visit during the FIDF gala Sunday at Beth Tfiloh Congregation. Credit Janet Metzner

The United States must work to preserve Israel’s future by preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, said U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman during a Sunday benefit in Pikesville.

The Democrat-turned-independent senator from Connecticut was the keynote speaker at a fundraiser for the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Midatlantic Chapter, based in the Baltimore area. Lieberman was introduced at the event by Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin.

"We're a generation that is literally blessed to live to see the re-creation of the state as the result of the service and effort and heroism of the people who fought for it," Lieberman said during a benefit held at the Beth Tfiloh Congregation. "But it will only be preserved if we continue to support it and if the men and women of the (Israel Defense Forces) continue to defend it as they have."

The FIDF's mission is to provide humanitarian aid to the men and women and their families serving in the IDF.

The defense forces protect the territory and population of Israel and the values for which the nation stands, Lieberman said.

"(Those values) are, incidentally, also America's values—the values of individual liberty and the rule of law and the tolerance of diversity," he said.

Lieberman urged the United States to support Israel against what he called its greatest threat: Iran.

"The shadow of nuclear-armed Iran most especially is creeping across the Middle East, while its fanatical terrorist proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, plot Israel's destruction and take steps to carry out that evil plot," Lieberman said.

The United States and other countries throughout the world are also affected by Iran's "strategic threats," he said. "I think it's important for Iranians to know that unless they change their behavior, then they will face the full force of the United States of America."

He said he was honored to speak before the FIDF.

"You understand as Americans that Israel's future is inseparable from the future freedom and democracy in America and throughout the world," he said. "Israel's battles are our battles."

The Sunday night event also honored Pikesville resident Aharon Dahan for his "lifelong commitment to Jewish values and the Jewish people," according to the event program.

Dahan was born in Tiberias, served in the Israeli army and supports organizations in the Jewish community, the program stated. He is a board member of the Beth Tfiloh Congregation, he founded the Beth Tfiloh community high school and is on the board of trustees of its Day School.

He's been a board member of Saarei Zekek Medical Center in Jerusalem and other organizations.

In Dahan's "loyalty to two countries ... he lived out the American Dream," Lieberman said. "I am honored to be part of this tribute and salute to you."

Col. Eyal Rozen, who works in Israel’s embassy in Washington D.C., attended the event.

Rozen said that through his work with the Israel Defense Forces he has been in charge of new soldiers—about 20,000 of them—during the last three years.

And he has seen the benefits the FIDF has brought to the soldiers through scholarships, family support and building athletic and other facilities.

"It is very helpful for the soldiers to know that someone supports them—even from far away," Rozen said.