Shaul Mofaz meets ORT supporters in USA


30 November 2009 Shaul Mofaz meets ORT supporters in USA Israeli parliamentarian Shaul Mofaz, a former IDF Chief of Staff and now a senior member of the Kadima Party, has added his voice to those praising ORT for its work opening educational and career opportunities for people in disadvantaged communities. Mr Mofaz, who has also served as Israels Minister of Defence, Minister of Transportation and Deputy Prime Minister, was guest speaker at a series of meetings in New York at the invitation of World ORT. His late father was principal of an ORT school in Iran before the family made aliyah in 1957 and the affection and respect he has for ORT was much in evidence, not least in his address at the celebration of the organisations 130th anniversary at the UN. Israeli parliamentarian Shaul Mofaz was guest speaker at a series of meetings in New York at the invitation of World ORT. In a day and age when incitement is rife and an equal education for all is more of a slogan than a reality, education for peace is crucial, he said. Providing students with vocational skills equals giving them hope. Giving thousands of people a value-oriented education means allowing them the choice of being connected to a 5,000-year-old heritage. Doing all this while also embracing the statutes of peace is altogether a mitzvah. I would like to salute this important organisation and its dedicated workers throughout the world for promoting one of the more noble human needs: education. World ORT Treasurer Judy Menikoff, who heard Mr Mofaz speak several times during his five days in the USA, said the politician had been a tremendously effective draw. His presence enabled us to reach out to new groups of potential supporters as well as a number of people whose support had lapsed in recent years, Ms Menikoff said. And, of course, our regular supporters were also delighted to have the opportunity to meet someone whose experience and intelligence makes his analyses of Israels situation a privilege to hear. She was among members of World ORTs Board of Trustees who met Mr Mofaz at a private briefing at the end of his trip. After the meeting Mr Mofaz expressed his satisfaction at having met such outstanding examples of leadership. National Executive Director of ORT America, Alan Klugman, said Mr Mofazs discussion of Israels security needs illustrated the importance of ORTs contribution to the Jewish State. World ORTs Kadima Mada programme provides educational and technological support to disadvantaged communities in Israel such as Shaar HaNegev, which is in the shadow of Gaza, Mr Klugman said. By raising standards in these communities notably by the introduction of Smart classrooms we are helping to build a strong infrastructure which should help Israel to be competitive in this high-tech world and so make it more secure. Trevor Morris and Robin Panovka, partners at one of the worlds leading business law firms, Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz, facilitated a breakfast briefing at their Manhattan offices with Mr Mofaz as the star draw. He was warmly received and came across very well, Mr Morris said. He provided us a good opportunity to make some high level connections with people who have historically been ORT supporters and to introduce some new people to ORT. Both veterans and newcomers at the meeting were surprised by the scope of ORTs activities as described by ORT Americas Senior Director of Development, Herb Kaplan. His talk went over very well and people were impressed by what ORT is doing, Mr Morris said. As well as extolling the virtues of ORT, Mr Mofaz used the meetings to introduce his programme for peace to prominent members of the Jewish community and key Washington decision makers. I can testify to the fact that despite relative calm, the current situation is unsustainable, Mr Mofaz said. The calm is temporary and deceiving; it should not in any way be used as an excuse not to pursue a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said the principles of his peace plan included the establishment of an independent and disarmed Palestinian state, initially on 60 per cent of the West Bank and including more than 99 per cent of the areas Arab population. The borders would be expanded with the conclusion of Final Status negotiations. A key component, he said, would be placing moral and practical responsibility on the Palestinians. They will be tested on their performance of effective, responsible leadership in the new Palestinian state.