BY KAYLENE RUDY/ SPECIAL FOR THE AJT //
On Dec. 19 The Fran Eizenstat and Eizenstat Memorial Lecture was hosted at Ahavath Achim Synagogue of Atlanta. Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat created the annual Eizenstat Lecture Series to honor his father, Leo, who died in 1986.
A prestigious event since 1987 featuring distinguished world figures, the lecture covers topics of interest to the Jewish and general communities, ranging from Dr. Henry Kissinger, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, Prime Minister Shimon Perez, Professor Allan Dershowitz, President Jimmy Carter, President Bill Clinton and Ambassador Michael Oren along with many others.
Each year Eizenstat’s parents, aunt and uncle are remembered. Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat has held several key senior positions, including Chief White House Domestic Policy Adviser (1977–1981) and Deputy Secretary of the Treasury (1993–2001).
Eizenstat was a leader in the negotiations of belated justice for victims of the Holocaust and other victims of Nazi tyranny during World War II during the Clinton Administration and his efforts resulted in great success. Co-Chairs for this 2013 Eizenstat Memorial Lecture were Ross and Sara Kogon of Atlanta.
This year’s newly refrained lecture title was changed to “The Fran Eizenstat and Eizenstat Memorial Lecture” paying tribute to the memory of Fran Eizenstat. Her passing took placed in February of 2013. She was Ambassador Stuart Eizenstat’s wife of 45 years, a role model for women balancing professional accomplishments and non-profit leadership and a loving friend, sister, wife, mother and grandmother.
She combined a life of professional accomplishment focused on the disadvantaged in the U.S. and on Jews in distress around the world with a deep commitment to Judaism, and to the State of Israel.
The event was opened by Philip Siegel, President of Ahavath Achim Synagogue. Barry Herman, Ahavath Achim Synagogue’s Executive Director led the Hatikvah and Star Spangled Banner. The D’var Torah was given by Rabbi Neil Sandler, Senior Rabbi of Ahavath Achim Synagogue and the benediction was presented by Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal of Ahavath Achim Synagogue.
Consul General of Israel Opher Aviran introduced the Honorable Stuart E. Eizenstat, who spoke on his relationship with The Honorable Ron Dermer, Ambassador of Israel to the United States. He shared the long history of years as close family friends with Ambassador Dermer’s family, attending several simchas and even recalled being present at the Bar Mitzvah of Ambassador Ron Dermer in Miami Beach, Fla.
Eizenstat then went on to his introduction of Ambassador Dermer, stating, “During such an important time in history, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose very wisely on Israel’s trusted diplomatic advisor to come to the United States at this truly difficult time. To manage this bilateral relationship to make sure that one of the largest democracies of the world and one of smallest march arm and arm to face these dramatic challenges today…because of Ambassador Dermer’s past as an American making Aliyah, he is uniquely qualified to help bridge the gap between our two countries at this time.”
As the featured guest speaker, Ambassador Ron Dermer spoke of the topic of A Nuclear Iran. He stated that there are many challenges that Israel faces, both politically and even internal challenges.
Ambassador Dermer stated, “Tonight I am going to talk about the greatest challenge Israel faces by far. And in this case it is not just a challenge for Israel, but one the entire Middle East faces together. And that is to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.”
He continued, explaining that the real power in Iran is the regime. Everyone, he believes, is focused on the deal and negotiations, but not specifically who they are dealing with.
“The Iranian Regime stones women and hangs gays, repressing their own people. This regime is killing hundreds of thousands of people. Iran is the foremost sponsor of terrorism in the world. In the last three years alone, perpetrating terrorist attacks in 25 countries. This is the 21st Century and the leaders of Iran openly call for the annihilation of Israel. Just weeks ago they were leading chants of death to America.”
Ambassador Dermer raised the question: What are we going to do to prevent this regime from arming themselves with nuclear weapons? Most of the world wants containment of their nuclear program, but containment is not an option.
Everything must be done to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. This can be done through crippling sanctions on the Iranian’s nuclear program. These sanctions must be supported by us as Americans, as we continue to encourage our government officials to vote in unanimous support of them.
Ambassador Dermer asks that we do not give up on the people of the Middle East, democracy is something that takes time and with each step the people of these countries are fighting for their freedom from the tyranny and repression they face every day. The Iranian people want to be free from the regime.
He closed the evening by expressing his belief in the impossible. Just as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and so many others believed in the impossible, through their leadership and faith they made the impossible, possible. Stand Firm – and say no to a nuclear Iran.
Ambassador Ron Dermer is an impressive Ambassador of Israel to the United States. With his diplomatic charm, intelligence, close relationship to Prime Minister Netanyahu and political connections within the United States, he is the ideal individual for the job. It was a great pleasure to shake his hand, speak with him and hear his brilliant words on this very important challenge that Israel and America must both face together.
Ms. Kaylene Rudy is Business Manager of The Atlanta Jewish Times and Founding President of Americans United with Israel.