When the history of pop music is written, Stevie Wonder will get a chapter, Ruben Studdard a footnote. (Heck, it already has been written, and that is the order.)
When it comes to moral authority, however, the roles may be reversed:
Over $14 million was raised at the annual Israel Defense Forces Western Region Gala in Los Angeles on Thursday.
More than 1,400 FIDF supporters and dignitaries from the US and Israel gathered to express their support for the soldiers and citizens of Israel.
FIDF National Board member and major supporter Haim Saban, and his wife, Cheryl, chaired, for the sixth consecutive year, the star-studded gala that took place at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza.
The evening began with a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and a program, which was emceed by actor Jason Alexander and featured performances by Canadian musician David Foster and Friends as well as a promising young tenor from Puerto Rico, Fernando Varela, who has been proclaimed as the next “Pavarotti.”
Surprise musical performances were also given by American Idol winner Ruben Studdard and 10-time Grammy winner Chaka Khan.
Stevie Wonder, who was slated to perform at the event, backed out last week after an online campaign entreating him to cancel his performance in protest of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.
A press release issued by the FIDF national office last week reported: “Representatives of the performer cited a recommendation from the United Nations to withdraw his participation given Wonder’s involvement with the organization.” The release also included a statement from Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yitzhak “Jerry” Gershon, FIDF’s national director and CEO, that said,
“We regret the fact that Stevie Wonder has decided to cancel his performance at an important community event of the FIDF, an American organization supporting the educational, cultural and well-being needs of Israel’s soldiers, their families, and the families of fallen soldiers.
Businessman and producer David Matalon offered the best line of the evening when, during the live auction-style fundraiser, he pledged $8,000 to the FIDF and, “in honor of Stevie Wonder, another $2,000.”
“I’ll have him call you to tell you he loves you,” Haim Saban quipped from the stage.
Let’s meet some of the revelers, both pro and anti-Israel:
Organizer Haim Saban contributed $3.5 million and another million dollars came from a 92-year-old Holocaust survivor.