Culture Minister Ed Vaizey painted a glowing picture of Israeli arts supporters when he spoke at the British Friends of the Art Museums of Israel dinner.
Mr Vaizey told the 500 guests that he was a "strong supporter of Israel, a country I love and admire". He thanked those present for continuing to back the arts in Israel and Britain.
The event was held at the London premises of art auction house Phillips de Pury, whose chairman Simon de Pury was so keen to host the dinner that he agreed to BFAMI's request that some walls be removed on the first floor to create a space large enough for all the guests to be seated together.
Sadness was expressed at the death earlier this year of Professor Mordecai Omer, director of the Tel Aviv Museum from 1995. Acting director Shuli Kislev paid tribute to her late colleague's "overwhelming commitment to his role and his true love of art".
Among works donated for auction was a print by acclaimed American artist Jenny Holzer, who was guest of honour.
Ms Holzer was pleased to have her work sold to raise funds for art education. "In the USA, when anything inessential is cut, it is children who are inclined to music, theatre and the plastic arts who suffer. That is tragic."
Her work sold for £48,000 and a gouache by the late Louise Bourgeois fetched £75,000. Tracey Emin, who collaborated with Bourgeois, offered the winning bidder a work the two had made together and a visit to her studio. The auction raised £630,000 towards overall proceeds of £880,000-plus.