About 20 years ago, businessman Adam Milstein became a full-time philanthropist, and since then he has invested his time, experience, vision and business connections in assisting organizations that support Israel and its alliance with the United States and launching new initiatives. He now explains how to create maximum impact through strategic philanthropy.
At a lively Tel Aviv hotel, I meet Adam Milstein, an Israeli-American businessman, philanthropist and well-known activist. The atmosphere is relaxed, and the Mediterranean Sea is seen from the window in a pleasant blue hue. The perfect atmosphere is distracting and allows us to easily forget, even for a moment, the purpose of our meeting.
But Milstein’s not distracted at all. He eloquently and sharply explains: “I am very focused on my mission: to fight anti-Semitism, to fight the enemies of the State of Israel, to support the Jewish people and the State of Israel and to strengthen the alliance between the United States and Israel.”
Milstein’s family history spans several countries. His father was born in Poland, moved to Argentina when he was 3, immigrated to Israel in 1947 and a year later served in the Navy during the War of Independence. His mother was born in Mexico to a Russian immigrant family and immigrated to Israel in 1949.
Milstein himself was born in Israel in 1952. He served in the army during the Yom Kippur War, and in 1981, after graduating from the Technion and working as a real estate entrepreneur in Israel, he moved to Los Angeles with his wife Gila and their two daughters. He received his MBA. From the University of Southern California. Later, Milstein developed a thriving career in commercial real estate and gave birth to a third daughter.
Gila and Adam have always been staunch supporters of the State of Israel. As part of their philanthropy, they provide financial support to many organizations that deal with the subject, initiate new projects and work to strengthen the alliance between the United States and Israel.
In recent years, Milstein has expanded his philanthropic work: “20 years ago, after many achievements as a real estate investor, I was debating how to diversify my work – whether to enter a new field of business or expand my philanthropic activities. Since I was looking for challenge and satisfaction, and not necessarily financial gain, I chose philanthropy. I want to make a mark throughout my life, use my knowledge, resources and experience to lead change and influence in areas that are important to me. ”
Milstein says he was deeply inspired when he attended the funerals of Newton Becker and Shimon Aram, two devoted supporters of the Jewish people. He was impressed by the speeches and eulogies delivered in their memory, their achievements and the respect that the participants shared with them. “I want them to be remembered as they are, thanks to my contribution to the State of Israel and the Jewish people,” he says.
Since turning from a businessman to an almost full-time philanthropist about two decades ago, Milstein has found new meaning to life. “I do my best in this battle,” he notes. “When people do nothing, they become frustrated and talk only about what’s wrong with everything. But despite the challenges, I continue to contribute and do my best and I sleep well at night.”
Milstein classifies philanthropy into three types. The first type, he says, is philanthropy for the purpose of belonging to social clubs. People donate money to be linked to a social or business group of similar people. Philanthropists from this group gain a sense of belonging and learning of prestige and respect.
The second type, he says, is philanthropy that prevents personal connection – people contribute to goals that are close to their hearts. For example, someone may donate money to the school his children attend, to the synagogue where he prays, to the Jewish community center to which he belongs or to the poor and sick in his community. These donations are based on emotional connections to institutions and needy people.
Milstein testifies that he engages in third-rate philanthropy, which he calls “strategic philanthropy.” Philanthropy of this kind is designed to create maximum impact in the relevant field of activity. “I not only give money to dozens of organizations that do a good job in their field,” he says, “I also invest my time, experience, vision and personal connections to support them and launch new initiatives designed to bridge existing gaps.”
Milstein takes a unique approach, shared by a few other philanthropists: “People do not understand why I support so many organizations. They think I’m dispersing, but I’m actually improving those business relationships for those organizations. There are no magic solutions, if you want to make an impact, you We need to empower many organizations and get them to work together to create collaborations and allow them to expand their activities. ”
Milstein explains that the organizations he works with benefit from funding, unique research materials and collaborations, while receiving full credit for the work they do, and can raise funds and maintain their independence.
The left-wing Islamist alliance
Surprisingly, Milstein thinks it is harder to donate money than to make money. He explains: “As a businessman, people develop expertise in making money, but when you give money as part of philanthropy, you want to make sure your money has an impact and there is a significant return on investment. To do that, you need in-depth knowledge of the organizations you support. To truly make an impact, you Must be involved. ”
After living in the United States for more than 40 years, Milstein notices changes in the nature of US-Israel relations. “In the last 15 years,” he explains, “there has been a constant attack on the strong alliance between Israel and the United States from outside and from within the Jewish community. Israel used to be a consensus, the glue that connected the Jewish community, and almost all American Jews supported it. “They are incessant about Israel on the part of Jews and other elements on the far left. They claim that everything Israel does is wrong.”
“No one says Israel is perfect,” Milstein continues, “but when Israel is unilaterally criticized and constantly attacked by Jews and others, it is difficult for the Jewish community to see it as the center of life for American Jews. Many Jewish communities push Israel aside, to the point. So it has become problematic to publicly support the State of Israel. ”
Milstein says the anti-Israel forces, driven by what he calls the left-wing Islamist alliance, which is made up of extremist Muslims and the radical left, are attacking the alliance between the United States and Israel and all types of partnerships between the two countries. He notes that until recently, congressional resolutions concerning Israel have passed by an absolute majority in favor of Israel. No more. “Today, when trying to pass resolutions concerning Israel in Congress, dozens of lawmakers are voting against them,” he says, citing last year’s attempt to pass a law approving emergency funding for the Iron Dome system that met with opposition in the U.S. Congress.
“Anti-Semitism continues to grow in America because of the incessant attacks on Israel and the alliance between Israel and the United States,” Milstein says, adding that anti-Semitism is spreading faster and in different forms: “It only gets worse as social networks spread false news They are the ultimate victims of this phenomenon. ”
Milstein says the left-wing Islamist alliance legitimizes anti-Semitic behavior in the United States. He predicts that Jews at the far left of the political spectrum, who have joined the attacks on Israel, will eventually find themselves under attack, as anti-Semites do not distinguish between Jews on different sides of the political map. For them, they are all Jews.
The Jewish community in America, Milstein argues, faces serious threats from the extreme right but also from the extreme left: “Israel’s enemies and the Jews’ enemies are first and foremost America’s enemies. The sooner Americans understand that Jews are the barometer of what is to come, “Hatred that begins with Jews does not end with Jews.”
Everyone can change
Milstein implements his philanthropic vision as part of the Adam and Gila Milstein Family Foundation, which he co-founded with his wife Gila more than 20 years ago.
With the help of a small but efficient and dedicated team operating in Los Angeles, the Milstein couple support many organizations fighting anti-Semitism, fighting Israel’s enemies and working against those who threaten the alliance between Israel and the United States. Advanced.
“These organizations want to promote themselves, but when we show them that by collaborating with each other they are actually promoting themselves and amplifying their impact, they are very interested. They need to feel that there is a win-win case for them, when they work with other organizations. “.
An example of one of these organizations is TalkIsrael, an organization based in the United States that focuses on cultivating positive sentiment about Israel among Generation Z (25-10) on social networks, through networking, interactions, dialogue and personal and authentic stories.
Another organization is the Global Anti-Semitism Research Center, an Israeli non-profit organization that uses advanced technology to monitor antisemitic content on social networks, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Tiktok in six different languages. The organization examines whether the content on the networks conforms to one of the definitions of anti-Semitism created by the International Holocaust Remembrance Task Force (IHRA), documents the content and reports it with the aim of removing it. “I regularly support new organizations and groups that fill the gaps that exist in the activities of existing organizations,” says Milstein.
According to him, the traditional methods of education and information must be completed with new initiatives and attacks against Israel’s enemies. “To make a personal impact, I have to choose innovative projects that demonstrate thinking outside the box. We are all comfortable doing nice things and helping the needy, but I want to do the things that no one else is comfortable doing – go on the offensive against our enemies in time and give us the advantage.”
An example of how Milstein went on the offensive was his support for a study that revealed the links between the Boycott of Israel (BDS) movement and terrorist groups. “Palestinian terrorist organizations have started the boycott movement,” he says. “Now everyone knows that BDS is not a social justice organization as it pretends to be. This is just another way in which terrorist organizations are trying to eradicate the State of Israel.”
Milstein believes he can make a significant impact in helping Israel, given his willingness to contribute financial resources, knowledge, time and experience. But he said anyone could act to support Israel. “Anyone can make a difference,” he says emphatically. “Demonstrate personal involvement, donate funds or volunteer at one of the organizations.” He adds that anyone, regardless of their financial situation, can come up with ideas for unique courses of action. “I listen to people who bring new ideas to the table, and implement the successful ones. An innovative idea is a refreshing idea. It’s a great feeling when you can do something and not just complain. Each of us can do a lot, if he just thinks outside the box.”