By Denis Hamill / NYDailyNews.com
Dr. Joseph Frager — who performs colonoscopies and other procedures at Montefiore Medical Center — is the chairman of the annual Raoul Wallenberg Heritage Foundation Dinner, pushes back against a boycott of Israeli goods, and helps stage the annual Celebrate Israel Parade and concert.
Dr. Joseph Frager isn’t just dedicated to Israel during the June weekend when New Yorkers gather for the annual Celebrate Israel Parade and concert.
The internist with multiple private practices in the city makes working for Israel’s future as much a part of his life as helping patients.
“Like being a doctor, being a Jew committed to the survival of Israel is not a once-a-year obligation,” says Frager, 59, who performs colonoscopies and other procedures at Montefiore Medical Center and teaches at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
“Just as I save lives every day by discovering precancerous polyps, I work daily on the health and preservation of the Jewish state.”
Frager is the chairman of the annual Raoul Wallenberg Heritage Foundation Dinner following the parade on Fifth Ave.
“This annual concert, which is free and open to all, brings together tens of thousands of people in Central Park to listen to Israel’s top musical talent and guest speakers all committed to a strong and safe Israel,” he says.
“We want a broad coalition of politicians committed to the safety of Israel in a time when the nuclear threat of Iran and increasing anti-Semitism loom so large,” he said.
He cites the four recent murders at the Brussels Jewish Museum and the murders at Jewish facilities in Kansas by a Ku Klux Klansman in April as cause for heightened alarm.
“We need to all join together against these barbarisms,” says Frager. “Right after the Boston Marathon bombings last year, I ran the New York Marathon in solidarity to those killed by those terrorists in Boston.”
Frager will also attend the July 9 ceremony in Washington in which Wallenberg will be posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.
“We raise money for educational projects about Wallenberg,” says Frager.
“We will make sure no one ever forgets the bravery of this Righteous Gentile.” [On November 26, 1963, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem, recognized Raoul Wallenberg as Righteous Among the Nations.]
Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who was stationed in Hungary during World War II, is credited with saving as many as 100,000 Jews by distributing Swedish certificates of protection to Hungarian Jews.
Frager’s work on behalf of Israel does occasionally come with a personal cost. When artists took the stage at the 2014 Israeli concert, Frager missed his own son’s graduation from St. John’s University Law School.
“I thank God every day that I’m able to juggle family, medicine, and my commitment to Israel,” Frager said. “But sometimes you have to make sacrifices that really hurt.” He’s counting on another son, who is now doing a medical internship, to free him up for his political work by joining him in his medical practice. In August, Frager will travel to Israel to meet with executives of SodaStream, an Israeli company with a factory in the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim.
A SodaStream ad featuring Scarlett Johansson that aired during the Super Bowl made headlines. “What American entertainers calling for a boycott of Israeli products because of alleged human rights violations on the West Bank don’t realize is that SodaStream employs 500 Arabs who could lose their good-paying jobs because of the boycott,” Frager says.
“Scarlett Johansson defended her SodaStream Super Bowl ad by saying that its factory is ‘a model for some sort of movement forward in a seemingly impossible situation.’ I applaud her.”