Former Spanish PM Jose Marie Aznar

Former Spanish PM Jose Marie Aznar addresses 2008 Israeli Presidential Conference in Jerusalem. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

On the heels of a banner year for United with Israel, former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar became the 5-millionth follower of UWI, joining a fast-growing list of supporters from 170 countries worldwide. 

Following a remarkably successful 2017, United with Israel, the world’s largest grassroots, pro-Israel community, has achieved a spectacular milestone. The fast-growing global movement now has five million followers on its main Facebook page, with former Spanish Prime Minister José María Aznar being the five-millionth.

“I feel honored to be part of the United with Israel family. Defending Israel is the best way to defend the Western world, its prosperity and security,” Aznar stated.

PM Netanyahu greets UWI Founder Michael Gerbitz at media conference in Jerusalem (Photo: UWI)

PM Netanyahu greets UWI Founder Michael Gerbitz at media conference in Jerusalem (Photo: UWI)

Aznar, who served as the 160th Prime Minister of Spain from 1996 to 2004, also served as president of “Friends of Israel,” a project launched in 2010 in defense of the State of Israel. Influential figures who have joined this project include Nobel Peace Prize laureate David Trimble, Italian philosopher Marcello Pera, former US Ambassador John Bolton, and others. Their key aim is to counter the growing efforts to delegitimize the State of Israel and its right to live in peace within safe and defensible borders.

Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister, congratulated UWI on it’s historic achievement.

“A big Mazal Tov to the United with Israel community on reaching 5 million followers”, said Bennett. “For years UWI has presented the story of Israel to millions of people in dozens of countries. I hope we can celebrate 10 million followers in the near future!”

Using social media and the latest web technology, UWI has built a massive network of pro-Israel activists in order to promote unity with the People, Country and Land of Israel.

“The exponential impact of social media outreach is dramatic when our community of five million supporters gives us access to a billion people. This is exactly what’s needed to win Israel’s battle of public opinion throughout the world,” said UWI director Michael Gerbitz, who founded the organization in 2011. Within months – on March 4, 2012 – Prime Minister Netanyahu became its one millionth supporter.

Huckabee at UWI event

Gov. Mike Huckabee (L) and UWI founder Michael Gerbitz (R) and celebration of 3 million in Jerusalem in 2015. (UWI)

Less than three years later, Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, US presidential candidate (2008) and ardent supporter of Israel, ceremoniously became fan number 3,000,000 while attending UWI’s “Three Million Strong” celebration in Jerusalem.

Contributing to Israel’s Security

UWI members around the world back vital projects that benefit the people of Israel and enhance its security. In 2014, for example, during the war with Hamas, UWI – with the help of its generous supporters – provided relief to hundreds of Israel’s residents in the south. Since its inception, UWI has installed 19 portable bomb shelters to protect civilians living under fire. Notwithstanding the ceasefire, residents of the south continue to experience sporadic missile attacks from Gaza and rely on these shelters for safety.

UWI anti-terror vehicle (ATV)

Anti-terror vehicle (ATV) donated by United with Israel

In 2017, UWI contributed significantly to Israel’s security by donating state-of-the-art 4×4 ATV vehicles to an elite volunteer police unit that collaborates with other Israeli security forces. These specialized, compact, all-terrain vehicles, which can be maneuvered in tight spaces, were designed to pursue and capture terrorists before they can attack and are desperately needed to protect communities throughout Israel.

Other UWI initiatives include the annual Chanukah party for IDF soldiers at different army bases each year, where, thanks to the enthusiastic support of UWI members from around the world, these heroic young men and women, who protect the Jewish people and the State of Israel night and day, receive warm fleece jackets and other ‘warm winter’ gifts as a token of appreciation for everything they do throughout the year.

IDF chanukah party fleece jackets

UWI presented warm fleece jackets to IDF soldiers at 2017 Chanukah party. (UWI)

At this year’s Chanukah event, which took place at a unique anti-terror training base located in the middle of the Judean desert, hundreds of soldiers enjoyed a festive dinner complete with music, dancing and a candle-lighting ceremony. They received ‘warm winter’ fleece jackets as well as beautifully wrapped gift packages of Chanukah menorahs, candles, chocolates, assorted treats, and personal notes of support and encouragement from friends around the world.

“This comes with heartfelt thanks for your service,” one letter said. “We are in awe of what you give of yourself to protect Israel. Without you, Israel could not survive. We are filled with so much appreciation and pray for your safety every day. Thank you, thank you!!!”

In the last few years, tens of thousands of ‘winter care’ packages, including fleece jackets, provided by UWI supporters, were distributed to soldiers at military bases across the country.

A Huge Success: The ‘Jerusalem Declaration’

Barkat and Gerbitz

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and UWI founder Michael Gerbitz holding the ‘Jerusalem Declaration’. (UWI/Yissachar Ruas)

The Jerusalem Declaration, presented to US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat in May 2017 – at the time bearing 500,000 signatures from around the world –  and during the summer to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, is a global statement of support for a united Jerusalem as both the eternal capital of the Jewish People and the undivided capital of the State of Israel.

UWI published the Declaration in a thick, 1124-page hardcover book along with an introduction and the hundreds of thousands of names and nationalities of the signatories, including some from countries hostile to Israel, such as the United Arab Emirates.

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett and United with Israel Staff

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett with UWI staff members (UWI/Yissachar Ruas)

“The people of Israel appreciate United with Israel’s advocacy, educational efforts and unflinching defense of the truth,” Netanyahu stated in a letter addressed to Gerbitz just ahead of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

The number of signatures is on the verge of reaching 700,000 and continues to grow exponentially.

“We’re aiming for a million and it’s very realistic,” Gerbitz affirmed.

Calls to Action

Taylor Force Act

UWI is committed to spreading the truth about Israel, highlighting the positive global impact of Israeli technological and medical advances, fighting media bias, combating the BDS movement and online incitement, and initiating weekly calls to action that turn its followers into advocates for Israel.

One call to action, issued in July, encouraged American citizens to pressure their senators to support the Taylor Force Act, a bill cutting funding to terrorists, which later passed with strong bipartisan support. Another was a recent appeal to famed Australian rocker Nick Cave not to submit to BDS pressure to cancel his performance in Israel. Cave performed to sellout audiences in two Tel Aviv concerts at an 11,000-seat venue.

UWI also has a Spanish version of its website and a Spanish Facebook page, Unidos Con Israel, with close to 800,000 followers.

In November, UWI launched a French pageUnis avec Israel. It already has 7,000 fans.

With the help of our wonderful supporters, 2018 should be an even better year!