Thu. May 30th, 2024
Adam MilsteinAdam Milstein

There are few people in the U.S. more committed to advocating for Jewish and Israeli causes than Adam Milstein. Milstein is the president of the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, a preeminent force in Jewish philanthropy, funding a wealth of causes such as the American Israel Education Foundation, Friends of the IDF, The Israel-American Council, American Society for Yad Vashem, Students Supporting Israel and Jewish National Fund.In supporting initiatives like Stand by Me, which assists cancer patients, Shanti House, which provides homes for at-risk youth,Milstein shows his dedication to that most fundamental of Jewish values: Tikkun olam, “repairing the world.”

But the scope of Milstein’s philanthropy goes beyond mere grant-making. While the leaders of many charitable foundations operate behind the scenes, Milstein is outspoken in his beliefs. This has been especially evident since the horrific October 7th attack on Israel by Hamas terrorists. Jews across the U.S. were shocked when fellow liberals took to the streets in full-throated support of Hamas’ violence against innocent Israeli men, women, and children. Milstein has since provided clear-eyed analyses in papers like The Jerusalem Post and The Washington Times about the failure of elite liberal circles to stand up to antisemitism disguised as anti-Zionism.

Therefore it’s no surprise that much of Milstein’s charitable work focuses on strengthening American values, supporting the U.S.-Israel alliance, and combating bigotry and hatred in all forms.. Born in Haifa, he served in the IDF during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, one of Israel’s most traumatic conflicts. After graduating from the Technion, Israel’s MIT, he and his wife Gila moved to the U.S. where he received his MBA from USC in 1983. He made a name for himself in commercial real estate before founding the Milstein Family Foundation in 2000 together with his wife Gila. In 2007, he and several other prominent Israeli and American-Israeli business leaders founded the Israeli-American Council (IAC), a nonprofit organization with a very clear mission: to strengthen the American Jewish community, future generations of Israeli-Americans, and the state of Israel. IAC has since expanded into regional chapters across the U.S. to promote a strong Jewish identity for all Jews. Milstein now serves as a Board Member & Chairman Emeritus.

Milstein is part of an Israeli generation that lived through Arab wars of aggression and the proliferation of Palestinian terrorism. He is part of an Israeli-American generation that saw the Oslo peace process of the 1990s disintegrate into the deadly Second Intifada. He was active in Israeli-American advocacy when first Yasser Arafat then Mahmoud Abbas rejected generous peace deals without making counteroffers. He understands the complex geopolitical and cultural issues facing both Israel and the U.S. today. His is a voice we should listen to when anti-Jewish and anti-Israel hatred rears its ugly head.

In recent op-eds, Milstein has passionately addressed the concerns of Jews and non-Jews alike about the seeming endorsement of Hamas’ barbarism by progressive officials, activists, and thought-leaders. He makes a strong case for why contemporary liberal frameworks such as Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), Critical Race Theory (CRT), and the decolonization narrative taught in college courses fail to properly interpret the complexities of the Middle East conflict and the status of Jews in society. Though the goal of these frameworks is to create a more equitable environment, especially for oppressed minorities, the narrowness of this worldview inevitably diminishes certain groups. Milstein explains this in a piece for The Washington Times:

“DEI and CRT adherents welcome minorities, but only ‘the right kind’ of minorities. … What many liberal Jews failed to realize is that we do not fall into that category. From a DEI perspective, Jewish people are not oppressed; they are the oppressors. They are not marginalized or persecuted; they are colonizers. This line of thinking has allowed antisemites to come out of the shadows under the guise of righteousness, and it sets an incredibly dangerous precedent.”

Milstein notes in The Jerusalem Post that “the Jewish community is waking up to recognize what I’ve long warned.” To him, Jews have always been the canary in the coal mine, the litmus test for a healthy society. If Jews face persecution, it’s a sign that something more sinister lurks in that society’s fabric, foreshadowing disaster. Today that persecution manifests as anti-Zionism and the delegitimization of Israel. Even in the Jewish community, polls show that the younger generation feels less emotionally connected to Israel than previous generations. Whether young Jews are disillusioned by the policies of the Netanyahu government or more enthralled by the social justice dictates of contemporary liberal frameworks, the Jewish community must wrestle with this existential question: How does it ensure that the leaders of tomorrow are equipped to advocate for Israel in the future? Milstein is ever cognizant of this problem, and it’s where he and his Foundation does its most important work.

The Milstein Family Foundation supports a number of organizations that combat the anti-Zionist narrative that is rampant on college campuses. Initiatives like the Israel on Campus Coalition, , the Impact Forum Foundation, StandWithUs, and Zionist Rabbinic Coalition work tirelessly to provide nuanced education about Israel to both Jewish and non-Jewish students, ensuring they leave campus armed with facts instead of ideology. Birthright Israel, a perennial recipient of Milstein’s support, gives young Jews a chance to see the beautiful complexity of Israel up close. Club Z teaches young Zionist leaders to be articulate and knowledgeable about the Middle East conflict. OpenDor Media is an innovate media company that shares nuanced Jewish content on the digital platforms young Jews use most.

This is Milstein’s incredible legacy. When he and his cohort founded IAC, one of their core missions was to strengthen Jewish identity and a connection to Israel for future generations. He has followed through on that promise through his philanthropy and advocacy. He has used his considerable platform to speak out about the injustices Jews face today, paving the way for future advocates and leaders to do the same. And through it all, he has embodied the Jewish values of peace, dignity, and justice for all.

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