Ebrahim Moosa – Cii News | 11 December 2012
The event drew worldwide attention after being spurned by American singer and songwriter Stevie Wonder.
A US-based group called Friends of the Israeli Defence Forces(FIDF) had advertised a fundraiser where Wonder was scheduled to be the star attraction. In the days leading up to the event, he had come under sustained social media pressure to cancel his appearance. An online petition calling on him to withdraw had even garnered more than 3,600 signatures.
The pressure appeared to pay off. Citing a recommendation from the United Nations, the Grammy-winning singer’s representatives duly announced his decision to pull out.
The wider event however failed to be derailed.
Last Thursday, more than 1,400 FIDF supporters and dignitaries from around the globe gathered to express support for the soldiers and citizens of Israel. Within a few brief hours, over $14 million was raised at the annual gala hosted at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.
Entertainment mogul Haim Saban and his wife, Cheryl chaired the event which was emceed by actor Jason Alexander. Performers on the evening included David Foster and Friends, “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard and 10-time Grammy winner Chaka Khan.
As reported by the Jerusalem Post, amongst the participants at the gala were Guess Clothing co-founders Maurice and Paul Marciano.
According to his Forbes Magazine profile, Paul Marciano has served in a number of senior executive positions with the Guess Company, including his current role as Chief Executive Officer and Vice Chairman of the Board, positions he has held since 2007.
The Moroccan-born American fashion designer of Jewish descent is considered the mastermind behind the Guess image and his sensual black-and-white advertisements have won numerous Clio awards. He is also a large benefactor to one of the larger Sephardic Synagogues in Los Angeles, Em Habanim. He reportedly also spent a part of his youth on an Israeli Kibbutz.
According to its website, Paul Marciano and the Maurice Marciano Family Foundation are co-chairs of the FIDF’s ‘Western Region’ chapter, and were regular attendees to similar fundraising events over the past few years.
In its Mission Statement, the FIDF purports to initiate and support educational, social, cultural and recreational programs and facilities for young men and women soldiers of Israel who “defend the Jewish homeland.” FIDF also supports the families of fallen soldiers.
“FIDF is committed to providing these soldiers with love, support, and care in an effort to ease the burden they carry on behalf of the Jewish community worldwide. Their job is to look after Israel. Ours is to look after them,” reads an online profile.
Israel’s armed forces have repeatedly come under fire from human rights advocates and legal groupings for their alleged war crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories during repeated conflicts. Most recently, Human Rights Watch(HRW) last week accused the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) of war crimes after a November aerial bombing raid killed 12 civilians in Gaza . According to HRW, the IDF planned and authorized the attack in pursuit of Mohamed Jamal al-Dalu, a suspected Hamas “terror operative” and low-ranking police officer. HRW claims that even if the decedent al-Dalu was a lawful military target, an aerial bombing of a densely populated civilian area for an “insignificant” target is a violation of proportionality principles protecting civilians pursuant to international humanitarian law.
Over the past decade, international solidarity movements championing the BDS(Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Platform) have advocated a boycott of Israeli products and companies supporting Israel as a peaceful means of applying international pressure on apartheid Israel in a manner similar to the successful boycott drive against South African apartheid in the 80′s.
Currently marking its 30th anniversary, Guess Inc. is famed for its American styled clothes. It also markets other fashion accessories besides clothes, such as watches, jewelry and perfumes. The company also owns the line Marciano.