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Posts Tagged ‘Morton Klein’

Conference of Experts Warns of Iran ‘Clear and Present Danger’

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

As the latest round of negotiations between Iran, the U.S., and Europe fails to yield any meaningful nuclear concessions from Tehran, a gathering of experts in the fields of defense, national security, and foreign policy convened in Washington D.C. on Tuesday (Nov. 19). Held on the eve of the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the event sought to contrast and compare JFK’s handling of the Cuban missile crisis to President Obama’s response to the current impasse with Iran, and to see what lessons the former might hold for the latter. The threat posed by the rogue Middle Eastern state, say the panelists—not just to its neighbors in the region, but to the United States—is far more immediate than most realize.

The meeting was sponsored by EMPact America, a bipartisan non-profit organization dedicated to spreading awareness of the dangers of an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack, a stratagem that EMPact’s founders allege is within Iran’s technological reach, and for which the United States is woefully unprepared.

The event, attended by an eclectic mix of pundits and opinion-makers, featured a panel of speakers drawn from the ranks of academia, the military, and the federal government. The event commenced with brief but poignant introduction from prominent entrepreneur and EMPact America founder Henry Schwartz. Following Schwartz’s remarks, Frank Gaffney—founder and president of the Center for Security Policy (CSP), a Washington-based think tank—moderated a discussion with former U.N. ambassador and political commentator John Bolton, U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Thomas McInerney, Mideast expert and former CIA operative Clare Lopez, and Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America.

An EMP attack by Iran, explained Schwartz, would have the power to “shut down our electrical grid, and thus, end our civilization as we know it.”

“Iran has repeatedly called for a world without America,” Schwartz continued, “and has practiced this type of EMP attack from barges in the Caspian Sea.” He went on to describe various plausible scenarios for a high-altitude EMP detonation, describing the repercussions as “catastrophic.”

“The opportunity and time for diplomatic efforts has been exhausted,” declared Schwartz. “The U.S. must act militarily to stop Iran, to prevent them from becoming a nuclear-armed existential threat to America.” Mr. Schwartz went on to explain how successful stall tactics on the part of Iran over the last 20 years have brought us to this critical juncture, and how the ineffectual foreign policy of the Obama administration has exacerbated an already perilous situation, necessitating a “muscular response” to the Iranian threat.

A presentation by foreign affairs expert Frank Gaffney provided additional context for understanding the present situation with Iran. Citing reports by a national German newspaper, Gaffney pointed to a military collaboration between Iran and Venezuela, which would enable Iran to launch an attack on the United States even before obtaining intercontinental ballistic missiles. One tactic, launching a strike from a cargo ship sitting off the U.S. coast, dubbed the “Scud-in-a-tub,” was deemed a particularly worrisome possibility. It is an attack vector, says Gaffney, for which we “neither have any missile defense, nor, for that matter, any warning systems.”

Seeking to drive his point home and demonstrate that his concerns were not an exaggeration, Gaffney recalled an incident last July in which a ship, sailing through the Panama Canal under the North Korean flag, was intercepted and found to be carrying two surface-to-air missiles concealed within its cargo.

Fox News contributor and former ambassador John Bolton offered insights on the inner machinations of the Iranian regime. He characterized the superficially democratic aspects of Iranian government as nothing more than a ruse. Describing how the true power lay with the Ayatollah Khamenei and the nation’s mullahs, he explained the position of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as that of a secondary leader. Tongue firmly planted in cheek, Bolton helpfully suggested that his listeners think of Rouhani as “Iran’s Joe Biden.”

“And when you think of it that way,” Amb. Bolton elucidated, “watching President Obama chase Hassan Rouhani around New York at the opening of the (U.N.) General Assembly in September was more than an embarrassment; it was a strategic mistake. Because Iran correctly read Obama’s efforts, first with the photo opportunity, then to even have even a telephone conversation, as signaling weakness in the American position, as signaling desperation to reach some kind of cosmetic deal with Iran on the nuclear weapons program.” This in turn, claims Bolton, has enabled Iran’s Supreme Leader to maintain a significant advantage in the negotiations held since then.

Perhaps no one was more outspoken in his criticism of President Obama than ZOA chief Morton Klein. Klein pointed to a number of political missteps vis-à-vis Iran, including certain appointments by the Obama administration. Chuck Hagel, for instance, President Obama’s secretary of defense, had called “for containment of Iran” for at least a decade. “Containment” of an Iranian nuclear arsenal, Klein clarifies, as opposed to preventing them from developing one in the first place. Klein also took the president to task for failing to speak up regarding Iran’s sponsorship of terrorist activities (e.g. via Hezbollah) throughout the globe. He also decried certain alleged “anti-Israel statements” by the president to Congress, “the likes of which I don’t recall ever hearing during my 20 years at ZOA from any U.S. administration.”

“This man is not serious about stopping Iran,” proclaimed Klein, “and is really allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons.”

Prominent political activist and Jewish community leader Dr. Joseph Frager was also critical of what he perceived as the president’s indecisiveness on Iran, but was quick to point out that the Iranian nuclear/EMP threat isn’t an issue specific to Israel. “As the panel members clearly explained, this is an American issue,” said Frager. “And we as American citizens should be gravely concerned for our own sake, even if not for that of our only real ally in the Middle East.”

Keeping with the event’s theme, Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney shared with the audience the benefit of his own experience. A former combat pilot, McInerney actually flew reconnaissance missions over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis. A key difference between the Soviets (and their Cuban proxies) and the Iranians, says McInerney, is that the Soviets were “reasonable.” As essentially rational actors not making their decisions on the basis of some apocalyptic ethos—in contrast to the Shi’ite fundamentalist theocracy in Iran—the Soviets, McInerney explained, could be counted on to prefer life over death, and therefore avoid a war that would inevitably prove catastrophic for both sides.

McInerney expressed his concern over what he characterized as the “unilateral disarmament” of the U.S. military, as well as the current administration’s refusal to stand by longtime U.S. allies like deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak who, for all his faults, nonetheless maintained regional stability, and peace between Egypt and Israel, an unpopular stance with the Egyptian public.

Rounding out the panel of experts was CSP senior fellow and former CIA operations officer Clare Lopez. Ms. Lopez placed the Iranian threat in a broader historical context, describing Iran’s nuclear pursuits as a means for the Shi’ite country to challenge its Sunni neighbors (in particular, Saudi Arabia) and assert hegemony over the global Islamic community.

Although each speaker was able to shed light on a particular aspect of the Iranian regime and its nuclear ambitions, certain common threads featured prominently throughout the discussion. There was a general consensus, for instance, that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps are a driving force behind those ambitions. It was also argued by several presenters that Iran securing a nuclear arsenal would set of a chain reaction in which the Arab states would ultimately follow suit, further destabilizing the region.

Though not exactly an earth-shattering revelation, perhaps the most disconcerting point of agreement was that, indeed, President Barack Obama is no JFK. Whereas Kennedy “redeemed” himself from the displays of weakness that precipitated the Cuban Missile Crisis by projecting an image of strength and decisiveness (this despite the concession of removing U.S. missiles from Turkey), President Obama shows no signs of mending his ways. Will the Iranian government succeed in their nefarious aims? One thing is certain: Unless overwhelming pressure from the American public forces a dramatic shift in the present administration’s foreign policy, we will be doing absolutely nothing to stop them.

ZOA Loses Tax Exemption Status, Will Apply for Reinstatement

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The Zionist Organization of America has lost its 501(c)3 tax exemption status, due to failure to file tax returns for the last three years.

In an interview with JTA, ZOA president Morton Klein confirmed the loss, and stated that his organization has hired a tax attorney to help them bring their files up to date and apply for reinstatement of their status.

According to Klein, the error in filing was due to the failure of a ZOA-funded school in Ashkelon to provide correct information in time, as well as a misunderstanding on the part of the ZOA as to the amount of time it had left to file for an extension.

Jewish Mega-Philanthropist Backing Gingrich, Drawing Critique

Friday, January 27th, 2012

Republican US presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich’s relationship with Jewish megabillionaire and foremost donor Sheldon Adelson has raised the ire of critics, who say Gingrich’s very public support for Israel is an exchange for support.

Gingrich reiterated his belief that the Palestinians are an “invented” people at a CNN Republican debate in Florida ahead of Tuesday’s primary, promising to issue an executive order moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, in accordance with a law passed by Congress in 1995 which has been waived by every US President since.

View statements to the Republican Jewish Coalition in June 2011 by Gingrich, posted by his campaign on YouTube:

At the time the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which stated that “”Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem” as an “undivided city”, was passed, Gingrich was Speaker of the House of Representatives. It was during that tenure that Gingrich met Sheldon Adelson, wealthy casino resort magnate and staunch advocate for Israel.  To assist in promoting the law, Adelson arrived in Washington to talk to leaders about the matter on Capitol Hill.  Gingrich introduced the legislation, and Adelson and Gingrich’s relationship grew.  Ultimately Adelson became a big sponsor of the work Gingrich did prior to his candidacy, and then the foremost supporter of the campaign itself.

Adelson, who grew up as the son of poor Ukrainian Jewish immigrants to Boston, scratched his way to the top in business, first selling toiletries and ultimately becoming owner of 3 successful Las Vegas casino hotel s and convention centers, as well as contracts for casinos in Macau and Singapore.  He is now the 8th wealthiest person in the United States, according to Forbes’ most recent ranking, behind George Soros and ahead of Jim Walton.

Since making his billions, Adelson has earned a name as a pre-eminent Jewish philanthropist, giving $100 million to the Birthright Jewish identity-building project taking youth on trips to Israel, $25 million to the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial in Israel, and donated a new headquarters to the Israel lobby in Washington, AIPAC, despite his reservations that the organization is overly pro-Palestinian.  Adelson is against a two-state solution which would give the Palestinian Authority control over lands historically belonging to the Jewish people, and has supported Gingrich’s remarks on the subject of Palestinian nationhood.

Adelson also started the free daily newspaper distributed in major Israeli cities called Israel HaYom (Israel Today), which espouses views leaning more toward Likud than Labor.

Adelson’s wife, Miriam, is an Israeli-born doctor specializing in the treatment of addictions.  Together, they have opened treatment centers in Las Vegas and Tel Aviv.  The pair have made many of their contributions in tandem, with Miriam donating $5 million of the $10 million the couple have thus-far given to Gingrich’s campaign.

While media speculations that Gingrich’s pro-Israel outlook was bought by Adelson, Gingrich told the Associated Press that he has only promised Adelson to “seek to defend the United States and United States allies,” with Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton Klein telling the AP that Gingrich has been known as “one of the few politicians who has had the courage to tell the truth about Israel,” saying that is probably why they formed a relationship.

As for himself, Adelson says that his support for Gingrich comes from an interest in helping his friend win.  “Our means of support might be more than others are able to offer,” Adelson said, “but like most Americans, words such as friendship and loyalty still mean something to us.”

Morton Klein: Bibi Sent Wrong Message

Wednesday, June 24th, 2009

The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent named him one of the top dozen “Jewish activists of the century.” The New York Times called him “a relatively rare voice from the outset in the American Jewish community against the Oslo peace accords.” The Wall Street Journal praised him as “wise, brave, and unflinchingly honest.”

From 1993 to the present, Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), has been one of the most powerful American Jewish voices opposing the Arab-Israeli peace process, which he sees as a one-sided endeavor.

An international lecturer who has appeared on dozens of major TV and radio stations, Klein is credited by many for reviving the ZOA – the oldest American pro-Israel organization – which had been slowly sinking into oblivion in the decades before he became president.

The Jewish Press recently interviewed Klein.

The Jewish Press: What do you think of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech last week?

Klein: Look, there were many aspects that were very powerful and important, but I think he made a very serious mistake. For years now, Netanyahu, as the leader of the right in Israel, has made it clear that a Palestinian state is a terrible danger to Israel. In fact, in a speech in 2002, he said that the “biggest mistake that can be made is to promise the greatest prize for Palestinian terrorism: the establishment of their own independent state.”

He said once you give them a state, they’ll demand to have military alliances and to bring in weapons and there will be no way to stop it. As I said to a top Bibi official when I was in Israel last month: They bring in 100 missiles, you’re going to go to war? They bring in 100 tanks, you’re going to go to war? Who’s going to support you? So this is unenforceable.

What would you have liked Netanyahu to have said?

When I was with Bibi in Israel last month and when I spoke to this top Bibi official, I said what Netanyahu should do is say the following: Look, we’re willing to sit down and talk about major Israeli concessions, but only after you fulfill the obligations you’ve agreed to in writing over the years for one year. Incitement to hatred and violence in the schools, media and speeches must stop. Israel must be put on every PA map, atlas and PA stationary. Palestinian schools, streets, and sports teams named in honor of suicide bombers have to be changed.

He should have also called for a cancellation of the Fatah constitution, which still calls for Israel’s destruction and terrorism, and demanded that the PA arrest the hundreds of terrorists on Israel’s list; outlaw terrorist groups; and make regular, numerous speeches in Arabic preaching peace with Israel and denouncing the immorality of terrorists murdering Israelis.

What do you think lies ahead for Israel in the next few months?

I’m afraid that Bibi making this unilateral concession will only increase the intransigence of the Palestinian Arabs and increase their extremism because now they will believe even more so that they don’t have to do anything. They can sit back and let America pressure Israel, and they’ll get more from Bibi .

Obama’s going to ignore Netanyahu’s conditions and is going to attempt to pressure Israel to drop them because Obama sees that Netanyahu is someone who will cave in to pressure. That’s the message sent by this speech.

Can you relate some of your personal background?

I’m a child of Holocaust survivors. I was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany. I lost most of my family to Hitler.

My father was an Orthodox rabbi and an ardent Zionist, although he got his semicha – you won’t believe it – from Rabbi Teitelbaum. My father was a Satmar chassid. In Europe he had a long beard and black hat and was a rosh yeshiva in his early 20s. But he disagreed with the Satmars on Israel. My father loved Israel, so obviously this was transmitted to me.

I ended up studying math and statistics. I was a high school math teacher for two years. Then I became a health economist for many years in the federal government, and I was also a biostatistician, working with Linus Pauling, the great two-time Nobel Prize-winning chemist.

How did you wind up at the ZOA?

Well, in the late 80s, early 90s, my wife started complaining that I’m not doing anything for our people – that I’m just working, making a living, and figuring out what movies and restaurants to attend. So I started reading up about Israel.

After I became somewhat knowledgeable, I launched campaigns against Baedeker’s travel guide, the biggest and oldest travel book company in the world. Their travel guide to Israel was filled with lies against Israel. They eventually hired me to rewrite the guide.

I also launched campaigns against D.C. Heath, the major textbook company in America, and got them to rewrite one of their textbooks in which every paragraph about Israel had at least one lie. So I became known a little bit because it was written up in all the Jewish papers.

Anyhow, bottom line is, ZOA came to me and said, “My God, you’re a real activist, we’d like you to run for president.” I said, “I don’t want to be president, I don’t know how to be president, it’s not my thing.” They said to me, “Don’t worry, you’re running against an incumbent, you can’t win. But if you run, maybe it will make [the incumbent] more of an activist; he’ll see that’s he’s got competition.” So I said, “Well, if you promise I won’t win, I’ll run.”

Well anyhow, I won. I demanded a recount. [Laughs]

You’ve been credited with reviving the ZOA. Can you comment?

When I became president, we were on the verge of bankruptcy. What saved us in the first six months was a major gift from [Florida philanthropist] Irving Moskowitz. Without that I couldn’t have survived a month.

How about ZOA’s political activities before and after your arrival?

Well, we didn’t have a campus program, we didn’t have full-time lobbyists on the Hill and an office in Washington, we didn’t have a Law and Justice Center suing people for what’s good for the Jews, we didn’t have a president speaking every week somewhere in the country and on radio and TV. We’ve become very visible and very active.

You’ve also become a more right wing organization

I respectfully disagree. What’s right wing is if you say we’re not going to give land away even if we get peace. That’s right wing – legitimate, but right wing. We don’t do that.

Our positions are identical to the positions of the Labor Party when Rabin ran for prime minister in ’92 – identical. He said: no talking to the PLO, no state, no discussion of Jerusalem. We’re not right wing. Everybody else is just very far left.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/interviews-and-profiles//2009/06/24/

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