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April 17, 2014 / 17 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Shangri-La Hotel’

Intemperate Challenger for ZOA, Mort Klein Should Win

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Tomorrow, March 9, there will be an election in Philadelphia of all eligible delegates to the Zionist Organization of America’s annual convention. The delegates will be voting for the person they want to be president, the person they want to lead the oldest Zionist organization in America.

For the first time in more than twenty years, this is a contested election. There are two candidates. One, Mort Klein, has been the president of ZOA since 1993. The other, Steve Goldberg, had been Klein’s protegé and has been, with Klein’s support, a vice president of the ZOA national board for the past five years.

Goldberg filed his candidacy papers for the office of ZOA president five weeks ago, at the last possible moment under the ZOA’s Charter rules. Since that time he has attacked Klein relentlessly.

The issues Goldberg has raised include lack of transparency, disproportionate compensation to Klein and underwhelming fundraising and membership growth.

Some of Goldberg’s charges against Klein are totally without merit. Some are accurate but wildly exaggerated, either in terms of the severity of the problem or the nexus to Klein himself. These include the criticism about ZOA temporarily losing its tax-exempt status and the salary and benefits Klein receives. Others are accurate and need to be addressed.

There must be, as Goldberg suggests, a responsible transition plan put in place for ZOA as quickly as possible. The organization needs to become far more bottom-up, less top-down, and controls should be put in place so that people are adequately mentored, and those at the top have strict term limits. None of these constitute grounds to eject a devoted and highly successful, charismatic leader for an untried upstart whose personal behavior raises huge red flags.

Goldberg has leveled many harsh charges against Klein. After an initial obstinate refusal to engage, Klein and his re-election team lashed out at Goldberg, pointing out previously unknown, but troublesome patterns of behavior and action they say make him unworthy of leading the national organization.

The charges and counter-charges need to be addressed and evaluated. Goldberg’s campaign site is savethezoa.com, and Klein’s is ReelectzoapresidentMortKlein.com.  About the vast majority of those charges, a careful reader should be able to come to her own conclusions; they won’t be addressed here.

But the bottom line question has to be, what will best preserve the ZOA: replacing Klein with Goldberg, or retaining Klein as president.

There is lots of ugliness to go around.

What is there positive to be said? About Steve Goldberg: he is clearly intelligent, he has degrees from fancy schools, he’s been involved in pro-Israel activity for many years, and he’s obviously energetic and creative. What’s more, Goldberg was the president of one of the ZOA district offices, and is a member of the ZOA national board. That shows experience and familiarity with the organization.

There’s much more of a track record for Klein. He took a bankrupt, dying organization, revived it, and turned it into a driving force in the public discourse on Israel and the Middle East conflict. He’s fearlessly captained the ZOA upstream when the rest of the major American Jewish organizations fell into line, one by one, in support of many of the worst self-inflicted disasters to befall Israel over the past twenty years.

Klein opposed Oslo when the popular position was to sign on and believe peace was on its way. Klein emphatically, vigorously fought against the removal of all 9,000 Jews, living and dead, from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria in 2005, when even most of the so-called right wing supporters of Israel supported the “Disengagement.” And Klein has consistently fought against the idea of dividing Jerusalem and of creating a Palestinian state given that the acting leadership of the Palestinian Arabs – like their predecessors – support the annihilation of the Jewish State.

Taunting the Lions in the Lions’ Den

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

It is a rare instance when Muslims publicly make amends to Jews for their vicious anti-Semitism and then underwrite a Zionist event honoring two fierce Zionists. In fact, we don’t know of any time this has happened other than this one: the newly formed Creative Zionist Coalition (CZC) is holding a Purim gala honoring Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer at Santa Monica’s Shangri-La Hotel, which is owned by a woman who has lost a case for anti-Semitic discrimination. She is appealing, but meanwhile, she has reached out to Zionist protesters and invited them to hold an event that exposes and repudiates Islamic anti-Semitism.

It’s a remarkable story. In 2010, the Muslim owner of the Shangri-La Hotel, Tamie Adaya, told an employee to “get the f—king Jews out of the pool.” The Jews were at the hotel for a fundraising event for the Friends of the Israeli Defense Forces (FIDF).  The FIDF volunteers who were thrown out of the Shangri-La Hotel’s pool sued Adaya in a California state court. The jury determined the hotel owner had committed various acts of anti-Semitism and returned a verdict against Adaya, finding that she had repeatedly violated the California Civil Rights Act and committed various other acts of discrimination against the group of 18 plaintiffs.

When word spread about Adaya’s anti-Semitism, two Jewish activists, Orit Arfa, at the time the executive director of the Western Region of ZOA, and Steven Goldberg (who is the National Vice Chairman of the Zionist Organization of America), scheduled a demonstration in front of the Shangri-La Hotel. Facing a public relations disaster, Adaya sent a hotel employee to meet Arfa and Goldberg and promise that if they called off the protest, she would host an event for them at the Shangri-La at her own expense.

Goldberg and Arfa agreed. Goldberg explains that Adaya’s “agreement was with me personally, not with anyone else or any organization, that I had the right to give the party to whatever organization I wanted, and I chose to make it the Creative Zionist Coalition.” This was fitting, since Arfa was the driving force behind the protest against the Shangri-La.

The sincerity of Adaya’s repentance has been discussed at length. This is not really at issue. No one involved in the CZC event thinks she has had a change of heart. Goldberg explains: “I personally made the decision to cancel the protest because I thought a single protest that would just last a couple of hours was less of a victory than a public statement by Adaya supporting the State of Israel and condemning anti-Semitism, donations by Adaya to an Israeli charity to benefit wounded IDF veterans and another Israeli charity to benefit the Israeli victims of Arab terror, and a free pro-Israel party at the hotel. I stand by that decision. I have no doubt that Adaya is an anti-Semite, and I thought all this would humiliate her. I still think so. I expect she will be getting a lot of heat from MPAC, CAIR and other Muslim groups as the party approaches. The whole point of this is to be in her face on this.”

It is just what we should be doing: confronting Islamic anti-Semitism, refusing to back down, and demanding that Muslims make public actions affirming universal human rights and human dignity. The event at the Shangri-La Hotel on February 24 is a first: a Muslim underwriting an event honoring two leading voices against Islamic anti-Semitism. This is a major event: whatever is in her heart, a devout Muslim is publicly acknowledging that Islamic anti-Semitism is wrong, and making public amends for it.

Goldberg sums it up: “We are all going into the lions den to taunt the lions. It’s not for the faint of heart.”

Pamela Geller is the President of AFDI (American Freedom Defense Initiative), publisher of AtlasShrugs.com and the author of The Post American President: The Obama Administratoon’s War on America and Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance.” Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is Did Muhammad Exist?.

Hotel Owner who Kicked Jews Out Hosting Anti-Jihadists

Friday, January 25th, 2013

In 2012 the Jewish Press reported on the successful lawsuit against the Muslim owner of a swanky Santa Monica hotel who, while exclaiming, “Get the [expletive deleted] Jews out of my pool,” had her employees do just that.  The plaintiffs had been at the hotel at a fundraiser they hosted for a pro-Israel organization, the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF).

The jury found the hotel and its owner, Tehmina Adaya, had committed “particularly reprehensible” acts of discrimination against the plaintiffs, and specifically, that Adaya had acted with “malice, oppression and fraud,” slapping her with punitive damages.

When word got out about what Adaya had done to the FIDF volunteers, members of  the Los Angeles office of the ZOA planned a protest in front of the hotel.  Adaya met that public relations protest by sending an underling to promise the activists she would host an event for them at her expense within a year in exchange for cancelling the protest.  They accepted the offer and called off the protest.

When the trial ended and the jury returned its verdict finding that Adaya had discriminated against Jews, she and the ZOA group issued their agreed-upon statements.  In hers, Adaya said she was opposed to anti-Semitism.  Adaya also claimed she had not done any of the things she had been accused of, or had been found liable for.  The ZOA LA statement included, “we believe that her statement exhibits the Jewish value of teshuva, repentance.”

As Miles Lozano, the Shangri-La public relations manager told the Jewish Press at the time, “the steps Adaya is taking are intended to address the Shangri-La’s public relations issues, whereas the court case dealt only with the legal issues.”

Adaya is still working with a bifurcated plan: on the legal front, she has appealed the ruling by the jury that she committed particularly reprehensible acts of discrimination against Jews, and at the same time, she is footing the bill for an event which is now a fundraiser for the new organization of the former ZOA director, Orit Arfa (Arfa was fired by the ZOA in the fall).  Strikingly, that event is headlining two of the world’s most renown and controversial anti-Jihadi activists, Pamela Geller of Atlas Shrugs.com, and Robert Spencer, of Jihadwatch.com.

Geller garnered a great deal of attention over the past several months by running a series of ads in New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. transit systems which state: “In any war between the civilized man and the savage, choose civilized man.  Support Israel. Defeat Jihad.” Muslim groups such as Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America, Muslim Public Affairs Council and others were outraged and pushed back hard.  In September, Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American activist, was arrested for vandalizing one of Geller’s posters in New York.

When asked how she felt about being hosted by someone who had engaged in such reprehensible acts of discrimination against Jews, Geller told the Jewish Press,

“The public renunciation by Adaya of one of the most egregious and monstrous acts of anti-Semitism in modern times is something to celebrate.  She is underwriting the cost of a gala costume ball honoring two of America’s leading critics of Islamic anti-Semitism, and at a Purim event, perhaps this is Haman avenged!  ‘Cause it’s the same hate, different era.”

When one of the plaintiffs in the case against the hotel was asked about the Shangri-La Purim party, the response was not as enthusiastic.  The plaintiff told the Jewish Press that she and the other plaintiffs found the response to Adaya and the Shangri-La Hotel by some in the pro-Israel community to be “deeply disappointing.”  Why?  The plaintiff gave several reasons:

First, despite what the ZOA director wrote at the time, there was no teshuva by Adaya – she is still claiming not to have done anything wrong and everyone knows the steps for teshuva are first, acknowledgement that one acted wrongly, and second, apologizing to the one wronged.  To this day Adaya and her hotel have not apologized to the plaintiffs.  But second, given that the FIDF was the wronged party, why isn’t Adaya having a fundraiser for the FIDF?  Instead, the Purim Gala is to help promote a new organization created by the former ZOA employee who falsely claimed Adaya had done teshuva.

There are other ways to divine the sincerity of Adaya’s gesture.  Court papers filed by her new attorneys on January 7, offered several reasons to justify Adaya being given a new trial.  Much emphasis was placed on the “fact” that one of the jurors hid that she was Jewish.  According to the filed papers, Adaya is claiming that one of the jurors “failed to disclose her religious background, Jewish,” during the jury selection process.  Two problems with that: there’s no legal bar to a Jewish juror sitting on a case about anti-Semitic discrimination, and Adaya’s lawyers never asked the juror whether she was Jewish during the jury selection process.

Jury Said Hotel Owner Is Anti-Semitic, But She Insists: ‘Some of My Best Friends Are Jewish’

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

The Santa Monica hotel owner recently found liable by a jury for dozens of counts of anti-Semitic discrimination has issued a press release in which she claims she deplores anti-Semitism.  Not only that, but, to replay one of her losing defenses at trial, some of her best friends are Jews. And, she claims, she never did or said the things the jury determined she did.

On August 15, the jury in a discrimination lawsuit returned a verdict against Tehmina Adaya, owner of the Shangri-La Hotel in Santa Monica, finding that she had repeatedly violated the California Civil Rights Act and committed various other acts of discrimination against a group of 18 plaintiffs.  The plaintiffs had attended a July, 2010 Friends of the IDF charity fundraiser for a program that sends to summer camp the children of Israeli soldiers who were killed while serving.  That charity event was held at the pool area of the Shangri-La Hotel.

According to sworn testimony presented at trial, when the hotel owner saw the FIDF banner and literature, she shouted, “get those [expletive] Jews out of my pool,” at which point her staff forced everyone in the pool with a blue FIDF wristband to get out, took down the FIDF banners and literature, and attempted to remove from the premises all of those attending the pro-Israel charity event.

The Western Region ZOA office planned a public protest to take place on August 26th, in front of the Shangri-La Hotel.  The protest was planned, according to Orit Arfa, executive director of that ZOA office, as part of the ZOA’s mandate – “to take stands against anti-Zionism.”

In response to publicity about the protest, a representative for Shangri-La spoke with ZOA leadership.  When Adaya agreed to issue a public statement condemning anti-Semitism, announcing donations to two Israeli charities, and hosting a future ZOA pro-Israel event at her hotel, the protest was called off.

“I care deeply about the hurt, anger and misunderstanding that has resulted and I want the Jewish and pro-Israel community to know I condemn anti-Semitism,” Adaya wrote in her press release.  She continued, “I pride myself on having close Jewish friends and senior staff, employees representing 12 countries, and we welcome guests from around the world. While I regret I didn’t publicly address this sooner given my belief in my innocence, I support Israel and seek to enhance relationships with people of all backgrounds.”

In addition to sharing what she described as her “sensitivity to Jewish groups and Israel,” Adaya, a jet-setting, multi-millionaire, announced she was donating $3600 each to two Israeli charities, the Koby Mandell Foundation, which supports victims of terrorism, and the Zahal Disabled Veterans Organization.

James Turken, the plaintiffs’ lawyer in the discrimination lawsuit, was not moved by Adaya’s efforts.  Although Adaya spent much of her release extolling her sensitivities and trumpeting her donations, she also claimed she had not said and done what the jury determined was the case.  What’s more, she mischaracterized what the jury said and found in a way that, at least for legal experts, goes beyond mere spin.

According to her statement, Adaya “never made any disparaging comments to anyone who attended an event here.”  That’s true, but no one claimed she had.  In fact, on the day the Jews were rounded up and removed from her pool, and throughout the hours-long effort to salvage the event, Adaya refused to talk to or meet with the plaintiffs and only dealt with them through her intermediaries.

But of greater concern to Turken was Adaya’s public relations claim that “While the jury found that the hotel did not have proper business protocols in place, they did not claim or believe she made discriminatory comments to any of the plaintiffs.”

Turken told The Jewish Press: “This is an effort at spin control that ignores reality.  The entire proceeding is a public record, as are the verdicts.  The jury found multiple violations of the Unruh Act – that is a civil rights act which can only be violated by acts of discrimination.  Further, the jury awarded treble damages which are only triggered when there is a finding that a defendant’s actions were “particularly reprehensible.”  In addition, Turken explained, “the award of punitive damages was only legally permissible because the jury found Adaya had acted with malice, oppression and fraud.”

Jury Throws Book at Muslim Hotel Owner for Throwing Jewish Guests Out of her Pool

Sunday, August 19th, 2012

After five days of deliberation, a Santa Monica jury announced on Wednesday that Shangri-La Hotel owner Tamie Adaya committed anti-Semitic discrimination when she uttered her now-famous cry, “Get the [expletive] Jews out of my pool!

The jury found for the plaintiffs on multiple acts of intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, malice, fraud and oppression, and violations of the California Civil Rights Act.

The Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica, California.

The Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica, California.

The 18 individual plaintiffs and one corporate plaintiff were awarded $1.2 million in compensatory damages, but the final amount Adaya and her company will owe is expected to go much higher, because the individual plaintiffs are entitled to punitive damages on many of the counts.  In addition, attorney James Turken is entitled to collect attorney’s fees from the defendant under the Unruh Act – California’s Civil Rights Act, which specifically outlaws discrimination based on age, sex, race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.

Turken was quite emotional after the verdicts were read Wednesday evening.  He had just been through two of the most draining experiences of his life.  For one thing, Turken is a corporate defense litigator, and so to him this civil rights case, especially representing plaintiffs, was largely unfamiliar territory.  He took on the case, he told the Jewish Press, because when he learned the facts he became “outraged,” and because he was also “incredibly impressed” with the plaintiffs.

On Friday, when the case went to the jury for consideration, Turken went to the home of his younger brother.  He then sat by his side as Dr. David Turken was succumbing to defeat in his years-long battle with Leukemia.  Jim Turken said that his brother had been following the lawsuit closely, despite his dwindling strength.  Even at the very end, when David was drifting in and out of consciousness, he kept asking his brother whether the jury had come back yet.

Turken could not say enough good things about his clients, the plaintiffs.  He praised them on multiple occasions as “the very best we have to offer, these are young people trying to make a difference, who volunteer for all kinds of charities.”  He told The Jewish Press that “as a Jew, I took this case very personally, but the plaintiffs made it a pleasure – I was honored to represent them.”

Ari Ryan, the lead plaintiff in the case, explained why he felt it was so important to persevere through the long, tortuous legal proceeding. Ryan was one of the organizers of the Friends of the IDF event at the Shangri-La Hotel, and as the events unfolded, as the Jews with wristbands were being herded out of the pool, “the gravity of the situation weighed heavily on me.”  He said, “evil succeeds if good men and women don’t stand up and do what is right.”

Well, the Shangri-la plaintiffs did what was right, and in the end, their conviction and hard work were validated.

Tamie Adaya was not in the court room when the verdicts were read, but she is required to be present during the punitive damages phase which starts on Thursday.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/jury-throws-the-book-at-muslim-hotel-owner-who-threw-jews-out-of-her-pool/2012/08/19/

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