Israel and Overseas Committee (IOC)


The mission of the Israel and Overseas Committee (IOC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples is to educate about, engage with, and advocate for Israel and global Jewry.  The Committee provides opportunities for our community to experience Israel and Jewish life around the world through a variety of events, lectures, cultural programs, and missions.


The Israel Advocacy Committee (IAC), which was the name prior to this new iteration, served the Naples community for many years under the most recent leadership of Dr. Ed Ezrine and Harvey Cohen.  It fulfilled its mission with a diverse array of programs, as you can see below.  The IOC will continue to focus on Israel, as well as bring programs of interest about other Jewish communities around the world.  This is an exciting change to me and I hope to you as well.  Like many of you, I have visited global Jewish communities in my travels over the years (Cuba, Ukraine, China, Myanmar, Morocco).  This has given me an enriched and deeper sense of belonging to the Jewish Peoplehood.  I’m certain that our committee endeavors will bring that feeling to Naples, building an even more engaged Jewish community.

To become a member of the Israel Advocacy Committee, contact Myra Benedikt at:


2022-2023 Events


Donations are always accepted.


Please click here to

make a donation.

Friends of Celebrate Israel @ 75

Our pride in Israel grows as we edge closer to her 75th anniversary.  Celebrate Israel @ 75 is seeking donations of $75 towards the community celebration on March 26, 2023.  Blessed with a matching gift by an anonymous donor, your support of this event doubles in value immediately.   Be among those who are helping put on a very fitting and memorable event.


Previous Events


Khaled Abu Toameh

Wed. Feb. 9, 2022

Khaled Abu Toameh will be Zooming in from Jerusalem to discuss the Israeli-Arab conflict with a focus on relations between Palestinians and Jews and the future of the peace process.



Previous Events







Monday, September 20, 2021, the lead off program will present Mark Werner, President of Volunteers for Israel, aka Sar-El, the organization that enables Mark and thousands of Americans to have served as civilian volunteers on IDF bases in Israel. Mark will speak about his latest book, A Passion For Israel: Adventures of a Sar-El Volunteer, describing his 14 volunteer experiences on IDF bases. Please register for this free Zoom program.


The second program, Monday, October 25, featured Dina Kraft, journalist, editor, and educator, Dina is host of the Hadassah Hospital sponsored podcast. These podcasts delve deeply into the personal lives of Israelis and Arabs as they live in conflict and in community.

This Zoom program is presented in conjunction with Collier/Lee Hadassah, and open to the entire community. The cost is $18 per household. Tickets can be purchased via


On Sunday, December 5, Beth Tikvah and IAC present in person, Andrew Warren. Warren is Florida State’s Attorney for Hillsborough County and speaks passionately about the disturbing and increasing trend in anti-Israel and anti-Semitism attitudes. He is a rising star in Florida government. Look for further information about registering for this program.


On Wednesday, March 23, 2022 Middle East security expert, Avi Melamed will join us at Beth Tikvah for a live presentation. Melamed was stationed in numerous Arab nations and brings a critically informative perspective on the complexity of security for Israel and her neighborhood. 


For information about all IAC events or to suggest future topics for programs, please contact Harvey Cohen, chair of the Israel Advocacy Committee at The Jewish Federation of Greater Naples at


Israel Advocacy Committee- Year in Review

By Jeff Margolis, IAC Committee Member


In what has proven to be a most challenging year, the Israel Advocacy Committee of Greater

Naples has provided the community with a diverse and stimulating series of events.


This past December, the IAC was honored to present a Zoom program featuring Ambassador Dennis Ross and Professor David Makovsky. Their presentation featured an insightful look into

Israel’s domestic and foreign policy as well as its’ future role in Middle East affairs. They provided cogent analysis of the search for a one or two state solution.

Our January featured speaker was Galit Peleg, the Interim Counsel General for the Consulate General’s office in Miami. In her dialogue with viewers, Peleg spoke about the changing landscape of Israel.

IAC Member Goldie Wetcher provided the community with a unique insight in to the natural

history of Israel. On March 23, community viewers were treated to a “Virtual trip to the

Wonders of the Negev.” The program featured Deborah Goldman Golan, co-founder and president of Atid Bamidbar in Yeroham. Those who Zoomed in to the program were able to see rare birds, scorpions, and other indigenous life.

The concluding program for the season featured a Zoom concert featuring Rick Recht.

In celebration of “Yom Ha’atzmaut,” Rick and friends provided an upbeat Zoom concert broadcast around the country.

The Israel Advocacy Committee of Greater Naples is in the process of planning programs and events for next season. If you have a suggestion for a program, please contact Harvey Cohen,

IAC chair at


2019-2020 Programs

Herb Keinon

Thursday, Nov. 7 at 7:30 PM

$18 PP

$100 PP, Israel Gourmet Patron Dinner


Read about Herb Keinon here.


Read Exhausting All Options Before Going to War Article.



David Lehrer from ARAVA

Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 7 PM

$18 PP

Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, seeking cross border cooperation in the face of political challenges.

The Arava Institute for Environmental Studies will provide the Middle East with a new generation of sophisticated professionals that will meet the region’s environmental challenges with richer and more innovative peace-building solutions.

Tuesday, March 24 at 7 PM

Speaker: Avi Melamed at Beth Tikvah

$18 PP

Mr. Melamed is a former Israeli Intelligence Official and Senior Official on Arab Affairs. He is an expert on the Current Affairs in the Arab and Muslim World Arab and their impact on Israel and the Middle East. Melamed is a Strategic Intelligence Analyst, writer, teacher and lecturer.  Mr. Melamed is the Founder and CEO Inside the Middle East: Intelligence Perspectives

Read more here.

Previous Events from 2018 & 2019


Sunday, April 14, 2019


Community WIde Celebrate Israel


Join us for this free community event:

  • Concert by Rick Recht
  • Vendors from various Jewish organizations
  • Face Painting for the children
  • Food for sale

If you are an Israeli or Judaica vendor and would like to be present at this event, please contact Renee' at



Click on image for more information.

Click on image for more information.

Michael Singh

Monday, January 14, 2019

TOPIC: Visiting the role of the US in the Middle East

Mr. Singh is the Lane-Swig Senior Fellow and managing director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.


Click on image for more information.

Dr. Kenneth W. Stein

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Topic: Forty Years After the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty: 

Why Egyptian-Israeli negotiations worked then but Palestinian-Israel talks remain remote today? 

Dr. Kenneth Stein is a professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History, Political Science and Israeli Studies at Emory University. He is the founding director of the Emory Institute for the Study of Modern Israel and founding President of the Center for Israel Education (CIE). 

Click on image for more information.

Sarit Catz from CAMERA

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

CAMERA, The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Founded in 1982, the mission of the organization is to promote accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East. CAMERA takes no position with regard to American or Israeli political issues or with regard to a solution of the Arab- Israeli conflict. The organization further seeks to monitor propaganda dissemination on college campuses.


IAC Events from 2017-2018

Brian Rosenzweig

Topic:  Israeli Innovation Fueling

Co-Existence: The Antidote to BDS. 

Brian will be discussing how Israel's innovation sector has the opportunity to catalyze co-existence by acting as a tremendous driver of economic growth for the Palestinians, while BDS threatens that potential and further endangers the future of the Palestinian people. 


JANVEST Capital Partners: JANVEST Capital Partners is a U.S.-based venture firm directed at premium early stage innovation within Israel’s emerging technology market. Our aim is to identify and invest in the country’s most dynamic seed and pre-seed businesses through the utilization of a disciplined data-driven investment strategy and a bi-national team of highly experienced managers and operators. JANVEST’s sector and stage focus is dictated by a desire to partner with and provide real value to exceptional entrepreneurs at the point where concept and commercialization intersect.


Brian Rosenzweig has worked extensively with emerging technology companies operating in a variety of U.S., European, and South American markets. As a Partner at JANVEST Capital, Brian is a member of the firm’s investment committee and is responsible for fund marketing and investor relations, as well as advising portfolio companies on their communications, go-to-market strategies, and business development efforts abroad. Brian graduated from Indiana University – Bloomington with a B.A. in Journalism from the Ernie Pyle School of Journalism, a B.A. in Jewish Studies, and a Minor in Hebrew.


Read an article here. It is printed in the September Federation Star issue.

  • Hand In Hand

  • Hand In Hand

  • Hand In Hand

  • Hand In Hand

What is Hand in Hand?

How can Israel’s Arabs and Jews break down the barriers of mistrust and separation between them? Hand in Hand is reshaping Jewish-Arab relations in Israel with a growing network of integrated schools and communities that bring thousands of Jews and Arabs together every day.


What is Hand In Hand? Click here to read more about it.

A worthy response article. Read that here.

Creating a New Reality article. Read that here.

How bilingual teaching can break down barriers. Read the article here.

Jewish and Arab Students Cross Cultural Boundaries at Model Bilingual Jerusalem School
read more: Read the article here.

Why does this program exist? Read the article here.

Hand in Hand 2017 graduates, parents & teachers. Click here to watch the video.


Who is coming from Israel to teach us about Hand In Hand Program?


Who is coming from Israel to present? Learn about the presenters here.



Dr. Eric Mandel 

IAC Events from 2017-2018


Who is Dr. Eric Mandel?


Dr. Eric R. Mandel is the Director MEPIN. Click here for more on Eric Mandel.

Read his bio here.

Read an article written by him here:Who is in charge of American Foreign Policy, State or the President? 

Here is an article written by Dr. Mandel about The West's Refusal to Recognize the Religious Basis for the Israeli- Palestinian Conflict.

Watch CROSSROADS here.

Click here for an article written by Eric Mandel about: IS JEWISH UNITY AN ISRAELI NATIONAL-SECURITY ISSUE?

Click here for an article written by Eric Mandel: SHOULD THE FLAWED IRAN DEAL ALTER US INTEREST IN REGIME CHANGE?




Author Dr. Michael Harris will talk to us about how to be an effective advocate for Israel.

He is one of the founders of San Francisco Voice for Israel, a grassroots group that is now a chapter of StandWithUs.  He serves as the lay leader for StandWithUs in Northern California. StandWithUs is a worldwide Israel education organization founded in 2001 and headquartered in Los Angeles.


He is the author of: Winning A Debate With An Israel-Hater: How to Effectively Challenge Anti-Israel Extremists in Your Neighborhood


IAC Events from 2016-2017


Watch the movie: Hate Spaces

The Politics of Intolerance on Campus


Hate Spaces examines how anti-Semitism is being made fashionable at many American universities through the ongoing academic delegitimization of Israel, and the normalization of hatred in the name of social justice.

 “Hate Spaces” is a wake up call to the Jewish community and to civil society in America about the institutionalization of bigotry on college campuses.” — Alan Dershowitz

“Hate Spaces” is a film every American needs to see. It is alarming to see the tolerance of anti-Semitism in higher education.” — Ruth Wisse


  • Israel Fest


Please join us in watching: “How A Small Nation Makes A Big Difference.” This movie explores the triumph of the human spirit. Israelis, surrounded by enemies, have turned a desert with hardly any natural resources into a flourishing and productive society. This movie hosted by former Harvard lecturer Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar examines the core character strengths of the country that have made this dream possible.




Learn more about the film at
or contact us at

Why we made the documentary "Hate Spaces"?

by: Avi Goldwasser, Producer and Director


We’ve been observing the increased hostility toward Jewish students on campus for the past decade. As you may recall, we produced a film called Columbia Unbecoming in 2004 which documented the intimidation by professors of Jewish students who supported Israel. We thought that the film would be a wakeup call for the Jewish community and the people of New York. Sadly, despite getting significant attention, the power structure in the universities prevailed and the hostility continued.


Today, the situation is much worse and more pervasive.  Most people do not realize how the hostility is being institutionalized, made fashionable by a combination of forces including radical faculty, radical student organizations, and an enabling university administration.  While many anti-Jewish incidents and the BDS campaign are reported by the media, few are willing to connect the dots and report on the underlying ideology and extremist organizations that are inciting the hostility.


We feel that there is a need for a more comprehensive public understanding of the problem in order for the problem to be dealt with effectively. We hope that this film will provide such an understanding, and that good and decent people will be mobilized to address this outrageous scandal that has marginalized Jews like no other minority on campus. All we ask is that Jewish students be treated equally and be provided the same protections afforded other minority students.


As is noted in the film, on college campuses today the TRUTH does not matter much, ideology and narrative trump the truth.  Power rules and those who speak truth to power are punished.  We want to reach people in leadership positions both civic and political leaders. They have the power to bring change. We also want to energize the public to demand that our leaders in the community and on campus live up to their stated values. What is happening on campus is contrary to American values, to values of decency. As President Obama has often stated “This is not who we are”.


Change and hope is coming. The current situation is simply not sustainable, clearly Jews are not the only students affected.  There will be a growing coalition of groups demanding fairness on campus. And because university leadership has failed, legal and political actions will be required and change will come.


Editor’s note: "Hate Spaces" will be screened at Temple Shalom on Thursday, April 6, 2017. See the ad in this issue for details.

This event is co-sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Collier County and Temple Shalom.


Alan Dershowitz, Lawyer, jurist, author and Harvard professor

“Hate Spaces” is a wake up call to the Jewish community and to civil society in America about the institutionalization of bigotry on college campuses. 

Ruth Wisse, Professor of Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Harvard ...

"Hate Spaces" is a film every American needs to see. It is alarming to see the tolerance of anti-Semitism in higher education.

Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, UCSC Lecturer

  "Hate Spaces is an exceptional film that brings to life the hostile environment for Jewish students on campus, and the failure of university leadership to live up to its proclaimed values.” 

Daniel Pipes, Historian, writer, commentator and president of the Middle East Forum

Hate Spaces is a powerful and insightful documentary that should waken all Americans to end the campus' Judeophobic problem before tragedy strikes. 

Andrew Pessin,Professor of Philosophy, Connecticut CollegeCampus Bureau Editor, The Allgemeiner

"HateSpaces" is an essential and timely film.  Responding to this phenomenon requires  a deep and honest  analysis of its causes. "HateSpaces" does this meticulously, thoroughly, and grippingly. A must-see for all those concerned about the worsening situation on campus.

Ken Marcus, President & General CounselThe Louis D. Brandeis Center for    Human Rights Under Law

 The great thing about Hate Spaces is not just that it is a compelling  documentary but more importantly that it is a powerful tool.  ….to reach new audiences and to recruit new allies. This is critical to gain the support that we need on the Hill, in the Executive Branch, in the statehouses, and even in the courts.

The Israel Advocacy Committee of the
Jewish Federation of Greater Naples

M. Zuhdi Jasser, MD

  • Gabriel Baredes, Director of Hispanic and Interfaith Affairs at the Consulate General of Israel to FL & PR

  • Israel Advocacy Committee Members, Luba R. & Monica G.