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Iron Dome Inventor Awarded Presidential Medallion in Madison Square Garden

New York’s Yeshiva University has bestowed its highest honor on the inventor of Israel's Iron Dome air defense system
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New York’s Yeshiva University has bestowed its highest honor on the inventor of Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.

Retired Israeli Defense Forces Brigadier General Daniel Gold, head of Israel’s Defense Research and Development Directorate (DDR&D-MAFAT), was awarded the university’s Presidential Medallion at its 92nd Annual Commencement Ceremony this week at Madison Square Garden.

“As Israel celebrates its 75th birthday, it is particularly fitting for us to host one of the heroes who stands as a role model for our students for his deep dedication to the Jewish state and impactful leadership in safeguarding its vitality and security,” said YU President Rabbi Ari Berman.

“I am proud to be here today with the next generation of bright minds,” said Gold. “It is my privilege to witness what brilliant young people are capable of. Their creativity, innovation and drive result in cutting-edge technology developed thanks to their talent, but more importantly according to their values.”

Israel’s Iron Dome system is a unique air defense system born out of a desperation to limit the damage caused by Palestinian rocket attacks after decades of use as a tool to terrorize Israeli civilians.

Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system (R) intercepts rockets (L) launched from Gaza City on May 13, 2023. Israeli air strikes battered Gaza again on May 13 in response to rocket fire from militants as deadly fighting resumed after a night of relative calm, despite efforts to secure a truce. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images)

Prior to Iron Dome, attempts to limit the destruction of rocket attacks were a losing battle – as terrorist groups fired small unguided missiles in the general direction of civilian targets that were difficult to intercept using previous technology. To make matters worse, previous missile defense technology was unsustainable as a long-term solution: each interceptor missile from the American PATRIOT air defense system costs roughly $4 million, while each unguided Qassam missile costs roughly $800.

Israel’s situation is unique in that it is the only nation on Earth where populations remained under continuous bombardment from rocket artillery for over two decades. Residents of the city of Sderot, which is located near Gaza but is not considered by Israel’s critics in the international community to be “occupied” territory”, routinely had only 15 seconds of warning from air raid sirens to get into cover before a rocket attack.

The introduction of Iron Dome changed life completely for Israelis in threatened communities. The system has a range of up to 70km (229670.00 feets) (43 mi), is portable, effective in all weather and – to maximize efficiency of its limited payload of interceptors in massive barrages – automatically ignores projectiles heading to unpopulated areas. According to a report in the Jerusalem Post in 2012, successfully intercepted 90% of rockets launched from Gaza that would otherwise have reached a civilian population.

Iron Dome is also effective against artillery shells, an important consideration for Israeli military strategists as Syrian artillery stationed on the Golan Heights once presented a mortal threat to the Israeli heartland until the region was captured and annexed by Israel in the Six-Day War of 1967 and retained in the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

On March 25, 2019 President Trump proclaimed U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. In June 2021, the Biden Administration confirmed that the recognition will stand, despite opposition from the American Left.

In addition to artillery, the system is also effective against drones, both of which have proven to be an indispensable part of modern warfare in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Children watch as the Palestinian Hamas movement display rockets and a military drone during an exhibition organized by the Al-Qassam Brigades (military wing), on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the establishment of the militant organization, in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern of Gaza Strip on December 9,2022. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP via Getty Images)

The university also bestowed an honorary doctorate on Holocaust survivor, philanthropist and visionary Emil Fish.

Fish survived the horrors of Bergen-Belsen, and after becoming a successful businessman in Los Angeles dedicated himself to remembering the victims of the Holocaust.

He founded YU’s Emil A. and Jenny Fish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, which educates today’s teachers to effectively transmit the history and lessons of the Holocaust from a Jewish perspective—vital to combating the alarming rise of antisemitism and Holocaust distorters and deniers, the university said in a press release.

“Over my lifetime, I have seen not just a declining interest in the Holocaust, but a growing misrepresentation of what happened,” said Fish.

More than 1,700 degrees were awarded to students across four undergraduate and eleven graduate schools and programs during the commencement ceremony.

Produced in association with Jewish News Syndicate

Edited by A.J. Cooke and Sterling Creighton Beard

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