Two associates of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now the personal attorney for U.S. President Donald Trump, were honored at the National Council of Young Israel’s gala more than six months before they were arrested on Wednesday evening, attempting to flee the United States by plane, for allegedly funneling foreign funds into U.S. elections.
Joseph Frager, NCYI’s first vice president, met Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas in June 2018 at a pro-Trump America First Action SuperPAC event in Washington, D.C.
Frager told Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the two approached him, and he convinced them to join NCYI’s trip to Israel that included former Trump communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who was honored by NCYI in 2018.
“They loved Israel,” said Frager. “I was trying to motivate them, further cultivate a relationship with them that would ultimately lead to them helping a lot of causes I’m involved in, in Israel.”
Frager said that by giving Fruman and Parnas the Chovevei Zion (“Lovers of Zion”) Award, the two would donate to NCYI, which didn’t end up happening. Giuliani was also at the annual dinner.
Frager declined to tell Jewish Insider whether he regrets giving the award to the two.
Parnas and Fruman are also members of the U.S. board of Friends of Anatevka, an NGO run by politically connected Ukrainian rabbi Moshe Azman. They also sit on the board of the Anatevka Jewish Refugee Community.
In May, Giuliani canceled a visit to Ukraine as part of his and the Trump administration’s push for Kiev to investigate former U.S. vice president and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son, Hunter Biden, who served on the board of the Ukrainian oil and gas firm Burisma.
A memo of the July call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, in which the former pressed the latter to investigate the Bidens, has resulted in an impeachment inquiry by congressional Democrats.