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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘ZOA’

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.”

No Retirement In Sight For The ZOA

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

ZOA – The Zionist Organization of America hosted its 112th Annual Gala Dinner in New York City last week, and since I happened to be in the “neighborhood,” visiting the tri-State area for an upcoming simcha – I decided to attend.

One of the facts I learned about this venerable organization was that it was launched in 1897 – almost half a century before the creation of the modern State of Israel.

At the time, Jews in various parts of the world were – at worst – being massacred in pogroms, or at best discriminated against, e.g. denied entry into hotels, universities, country clubs and medical schools. In fact some of the best hospitals in North America were built in order to accommodate newly minted doctors who could not get residencies in local hospitals.

The 19th century ideology called Zionism was born – even though for centuries Jewish had been longing for Moshiach and a return to Eretz Yisrael – with the goal of having a Jewish homeland created, where Jews would live their lives with the rights and privileges of full fledged citizens, like their non-Jewish peers in the countries they lived in.

A troubling thought struck me as I looked at the hundreds of guests who robustly joined in the singing of Israel’s national anthem early in the program. Why are we here? Why is there a ZOA hosting a fundraising event? After all, wasn’t the Zionist dream fulfilled over 60 years ago? Haven’t the majority of Jews living today grown up with the reality of a Jewish country called Israel – a country with many colors and favors, peopled by Jews of all nationalities?

Israel has succeeded no doubt beyond the wildest imagination of the Zionists of old – for not only does the State of Israel exist but she more than holds her own in the global community of nations. Indeed Israel surpasses many longer established counties in the uplifting of the arts and sciences, including life-enhancing, cutting-edge innovations in 21st century technology and medical research.

So why hasn’t the ZOA “emptied its desk, shut off the lights and shut the door behind it?”

Because, as speaker after speaker pointed out, including Minority Whip Congressman Eric Cantor (R: VA) and General Moshe Ya’alon, former IDF chief of staff, from the moment the Zionist dream was actualized, it has been forced into an existential nightmare.

War after war was launched against the newborn state, and when she prevailed, despite the overwhelming number of armies bent on wiping her off the map, (how appropriate that the dinner took place during Chanukah) new tactics were used against her residents, including hundreds of acts of terrorism – basically a war of attrition – with civilians (of all faiths and creeds) being randomly murdered a handful at a time.

And in recent years Israel has had to deal with a new battle – a war of words, in which a country willing to slice off chunks of her tiny self in desperate bids for peace is demonized in the court of public opinion. Not just by her long-standing enemies – but by her supposed friends.

And that is why, so tragically, the door of the Zionist organization of America is still open decades after the realization of a Jewish homeland. The battle to defend the Jewish people and the State of Israel’s integrity has not ended – nor is it likely to any time soon. If anything, the growling from the international community grows louder and more threatening and vicious. As the child of Holocaust survivors, I have experienced the births, in recent years, of my late parents’ great-grandchildren with equal dollops of joy and worry.

However, as the story of Chanukah teaches us – we must have faith. AS ZOA president Mort Klein pointed out in a somber but inspiring speech, the State of Israel did not enjoy peace in her the past, nor has she in the present, nor will she in the foreseeable future. However, Israel can exist and thrive without peace – as evidenced by her existence.

The Land of Israel, Klein pointed out, is referred to in the Bible as the “Promised Land” – promised by G-d to the Jewish People.

And the Jewish People are eternal. As we learn from the Maccabees and a review of global Jewish history, we have been marginalized, knocked down, outnumbered, slandered, threatened physically and spiritually, demeaned, degraded, despised and decimated. Yet we overcome, bounce back, fight and prevail.

Did Group Raise Money For Hamas On American Campuses?

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

WASHINGTON – A U.S. congressman is the latest to call for a Justice Department investigation into whether a pro-Palestinian group has been raising money on college campuses for Hamas.

In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) urged a probe into Viva Palestina USA, a humanitarian aid convoy led by British lawmaker George Galloway that brought medical supplies to Gaza last July.

Both the Zionist Organization of America and Anti-Defamation League in recent months have urged Holder to investigate reports about the convoy’s links to Hamas.

The groups made their requests after Galloway and other Viva Palestina USA members appeared and reportedly raised funds at some college campuses in the spring and summer.

“Clearly, people and organizations in the United States cannot be allowed to solicit funds for foreign terrorist organizations,” Sherman wrote in his letter to Holder.

“That such solicitation is occurring during the middle of the day at a public university is truly frightening,” he said, referring to the University of California, Irvine.

Sherman wrote similar letters expressing concern about the reports on Viva Palestina USA to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, University of California, Irvine chancellor Michael Drake and Internal Revenue Service commissioner Douglas Shulman.

Viva Palestina USA was launched after the Viva Palestina group that Galloway set up in Britain sent a convoy to Gaza in March. It did not respond to request for comment.

At a meeting in Gaza with Hamas officials during the March trip, according to a report from terrorism expert Steven Emerson, Galloway held up a bag of cash and said, “This is not charity. This is politics” and “We are giving this money now to the government of Palestine. And, if I could, I would give them 10 times, 100 times more.”

When the Viva Palestina USA convoy arrived in Gaza months later, there was no similar public event with Hamas, although the group reportedly did meet with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Giving humanitarian aid to Gaza is legal under U.S. law, but providing it to Hamas officials or the Hamas government in Gaza would likely be considered illegal because Hamas is on the list of foreign terrorist organizations.

The most controversial appearance by Viva Palestina USA and Galloway in the United States came May 21 at the University of California, Irvine, a campus that has experienced tensions between Jewish and Muslim students and where a civil rights complaint was filed earlier this decade claiming a hostile environment for Jewish students. (A federal investigation found that the university acted appropriately.)

UC-Irvine has referred information about the event, which was sponsored by the Muslim Student Union, to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. ZOA leaders said they had obtained a video of the event and, at the bureau’s request, passed it on to law enforcement officials.

The university also says it is investigating whether the Muslim Student Union had violated university policy by raising money without the university’s authorization.

In a letter to the university’s campus counsel, the Muslim Student Union acknowledged that it may have “unknowingly breached university policy (as undoubtedly have every student organization on campus as well as university administrators).” But the student group rejected ZOA’s accusations that it may have raised money for Hamas as “nothing short of libel.”

“ZOA seeks to smear MSU’s reputation by maliciously accusing MSU of breaking U.S. laws without providing any real evidentiary backing,” the group said in its letter.

The ZOA praised the university’s decision to forward information on the Viva Palestina fund raising.

“They’ve done the right thing,” said Susan Tuchman, director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice. “All groups should be held accountable.”

University spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon said the campus police forwarded information on the Viva Palestina fund raising to the FBI because it felt “they were the best agency to handle it.” She said outside counsel is examining whether the Muslim Student Union violated campus procedures.


Creating ‘Synergy’ Between Israel And The U.S.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Nearly two years ago, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) opened an Israel office in Jerusalem. The director of the office, Jeff Daube, made aliyah after years of working with organizations like AIPAC, NORPAC, CAMERA and Palestinian Media Watch as well as lobbying extensively on Capitol Hill.

Soon after arriving in Israel, Daube made headlines when he was detained by Israeli police for handing out factual booklets about Fatah, which the police deemed “seditious,” and later with the opening of a ZOA branch at the Shalom House in Hebron in an effort to prevent the eviction of Jewish settlers there.

Daube recently spoke with The Jewish Press.
The Jewish Press: How did your background as an activist prepare you for heading the ZOA office in Israel?

Daube: In the U.S. I worked with many established organizations and activist groups and extensively with leaders in Congress. Over the years of advocacy and networking, I developed an appreciation for the importance of relationship building. A significant portion of my first 20 months in Israel has been spent cultivating those relationships and establishing key contacts. In Israel, where whom you know is perhaps more important than what you know, this is a necessary strategy for achieving one’s political objectives.

What are the goals of the ZOA’s Israel office?

The ZOA in Israel and in the U.S. share the same basic goals: strengthening the bond between our two countries, raising Zionist consciousness, and doing everything possible to ensure the security of Israel. But it didn’t take long for me to decide it would be a mistake to try and duplicate much of the successful work of the U.S. operation.

Rather, I came to view my role here as a unique opportunity to create a synergy between our respective communities, leaderships and institutions. For example, since the establishment of the Netanyahu government I’ve met regularly with a number of members of Knesset and government ministers.

The present Israeli government is much more inclined to share the ZOA perspective on security-related issues than previous governments, and I share with them the feedback I get from my contacts in Congress. My aim, specifically, is to underline for the decision makers and policymakers here that, despite recent setbacks, there is still significant consensus to support Israel should it decide to take more resolute positions.

What specific projects are you currently working on?

My emphasis is on increasing the level of interactivity between members of Knesset and like-minded members of Congress. Because Israeli legislators do not have the typical 18 or more specialists working on each of their staffs as do their counterparts in Washington, they are not necessarily as conversant on all of the issues as we might like them to be, nor do they have in-house experts to guide them when their own knowledge falls short.

I try to improve information access and education in this milieu, especially for junior members of the Knesset, so they can be more compelling presenters of Israeli government policy in their dealings with congressional leaders.

Engaging U.S. leadership not only means providing communication and meeting opportunities between them and Israeli decision makers, it also entails taking them to disputed areas to show how critically important land is to Israel’s security and helping them understand that a Jew has the moral, legal and historical right to live wherever he or she chooses, especially in our biblical heartland.

My best hope for influencing the decision-making process in the halls of power in both countries regarding Israeli security would be via Americans Vote Israel, a parallel grassroots program meant to tap into the enormous political leverage that even a fraction of the 250,000 American citizens living here could provide. We have been steadily mobilizing this community, along with their families, friends and colleagues in the U.S., to engage them further in the political processes both here and abroad.

You’ve been working with American politicians for a long time. Do you see any change in their support for Israel since Obama took office, especially among Democrats?

I’ve made dozens of visits to Capitol Hill and always encountered consistent and strong bipartisan support on our issues. Of course, there may have been some differences with certain members of Congress, but overall we could always count on broad support. Although I am no longer pounding the marble in the Rayburn or Hart Buildings, I still try to keep my finger on the Beltway pulse and I do sense some weakening of support for Israel in general, but particularly among Democrats.

Often when I look at the results of a vote on an Israel-related bill or resolution, I find the overwhelming majority voting against Israel to be Democrats. A recent example: Earlier this year a resolution in support of Israel’s right to defend itself in Gaza passed the House 390-5 with 22 members registering “present.” Of the 27 not voting in favor, 26 were Democrats and one was a nominal Republican, Ron Paul.

Unlike in the ’50s and ’60s, when Democrats were more supportive of Israel, there is now, according to poll after poll, a marked and significant gap between vigorous Republican and tepid Democratic support for Israel. Given Obama’s expressed interest in “putting daylight” between his administration and Israel, I would hope the American Jewish community will reevaluate its near monolithic support for one party.

One can presumably place the relatively new J Street on the opposite end of the spectrum from the ZOA. How does J Street (or similar groups in Israel) impact the ZOA Israel office?

ZOA in the U.S. has done a great job raising consciousness about the dangers of J Street, a counterproductive upstart that has already managed to undermine Israel’s influence on international policy in Washington. Unfortunately, I have been forced to devote a portion of my time – better spent on issues like Iran’s nuclearization – with MKs, other organizations, and the public, explaining how the policies of J Street and like-minded groups are, in fact, inimical to the security interests of the State of Israel.

I have already contacted members of Congress with whom I maintain close ties to respectfully suggest they limit their engagement with this organization that is anything but “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace.” I am also encouraging members of Knesset to do the same. I can’t emphasize enough the potential benefits of having Israeli and U.S. leaders communicate directly with one another to minimize the negative messages from groups like J Street and their minority cohorts in both countries.

What do you perceive as the main difference between American and Israeli politicians?

That is a subject for a thesis! The main differences between Israeli and American politicians involve accountability and style. Because Israeli politicians do not have specific constituencies to which they are continually answerable, they tend to be less attuned to the wishes of their polity. One of my main projects here, organizing the American-Israeli community into a cohesive political force, may yield some dividends in this regard someday.

Another difference is in the Israeli politicians’ readiness to confront an issue head on. Political culture on the Hill demands a certain protocol, with staffers playing a very significant role.

Israeli politicians, on the other hand, with their aides often removed from the conversation, usually cut to the chase. They ask tough questions and expect direct and thoughtful answers.

Also, as with everything else here, the political culture is more informal than in the U.S. – there is a “we’re all in this together” feeling about the issues.

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.

ZOA President’s Encounter With Arab Lawmaker

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

JERUSALEM – An American Jewish leader was restricted by security guards from entering the Knesset last week after he questioned an Arab lawmaker over seemingly anti-Israel statements and practices.

The episode unfolded when Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, was in the Knesset waiting room with a group of other U.S. Jewish leaders who had come to parliament for pre-scheduled meetings with the country’s top leadership, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The group was about to enter when Klein noticed Israeli Arab Knesset Member Ahmed Tibi walking into the building.

According to Klein and several witnesses who spoke to The Jewish Press, the ZOA president approached Tibi and questioned him about a conference the lawmaker attended in Doha last year in which he reportedly registered as a representative of the state of “Palestine” rather than Israel.

Klein also questioned Tibi about scores of anti-Israel statements the lawmaker has made, such as recent public charges from Tibi of Israeli apartheid against the Palestinians.

“I asked Tibi if he thinks it appropriate for a Knesset member to be blackening Israel’s image by calling it an apartheid state and to be going around as a paid Knesset member and yet representing himself as from the so-called state of Palestine, which doesn’t exist,” Klein said.

Both Klein and multiple witnesses related how after the questions were asked, Tibi started screaming “at the top of his lungs” for security to expel Klein, accusing the Jewish leader of physically and then verbally assaulting him.

When the guards entered, Tibi retracted his claim of physical assault but maintained that Klein had verbally assaulted him – a charge denied by others in the room at the time.

In line with instructions from the Knesset speaker, Likud member Reuven Rivlin, security guards were instructed not to allow entry to Klein until he formally apologized to Tibi, an action Klein refused to take.

“Why should I apologize for asking Tibi a legitimate question?” asked Klein. “And why should Rivlin side with Tibi? Rivlin has been a friend of mine for years and agrees with my views. Plus, I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Klein contacted Knesset members Aryeh Eldad of the National Union party and Danny Danon of Likud, both of whom invited Klein into the building as their personal guests, but was still denied entry.

After waiting in the lobby for two and a half hours, Klein was finally allowed in when Tibi accepted a personal statement from the ZOA president declaring that he had not meant to offend Tibi with his questions.

The drama did not end there, however.

About thirty minutes after the truce, Klein and other Jewish leaders ran into Tibi again in a large open section of the Knesset. They said that they overheard Tibi speaking on his cell phone in English about how Klein was only allowed into the building after he had officially apologized to Tibi.

At that point, Klein’s deputy, Steve Goldberg, approached Tibi to point out to the lawmaker that he was inaccurately describing the fiasco.

According to witnesses, Goldberg told Tibi, “That’s a total lie. Stop telling people that lie. Klein never apologized.”

Tibi then started yelling at Goldberg, prompting several security guards to rush into the room. Tibi claimed that both Klein and Goldberg had verbally assaulted him and demanded the pair be barred from the Knesset immediately.

Klein and others in the room, however, pointed out that Goldberg acted alone and that Tibi was not verbally assaulted. Tibi relented at that point and instructed the guards to boot Goldberg, who was promptly escorted from the building and not allowed back in that day.

Tibi told The Jewish Press this week that when Klein first approached him in the Knesset lobby, the ZOA president told him he should not be allowed in the Knesset building because of his alleged anti-Israel views.

That claim was denied by Klein and several witnesses to the confrontation.

Tibi also accused Klein of being a “rightist” who is “anti-Arab.”

“He has a problem with me because my first name is Ahmed,” Tibi said.

Klein retorted, “No, I have a problem with him because he is anti-Israel and also a Knesset member.”

Letters To The Editor

Wednesday, February 14th, 2007

Influence Of The Press
   It’s hard to believe it’s been seven years since the passing of Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l, thanks to whom a good friend of mine got started on the road to Torah.
   Back in 1964, this friend was serving time in a California penitentiary for armed robbery. With so many empty hours to reflect on his predicament, the mistakes he’d made, and the lack of spirituality in his life, he decided to explore his Jewish heritage.
   He began reading The Jewish Press, complimentary copies of which were available at the prison library. Immediately he started keeping whatever mitzvos he could in that environment. Eventually my friend wrote a letter to Rabbi Klass, informing him of his progress. Rabbi Klass responded with a letter full of encouragement and insight.
   When he was released in 1973, my friend found a rabbi with whom he studied. Within a few years he was married and the father of two girls. Not many people in his community were aware of his past, but to those of us in whom he confided, he never stopped expressing his gratitude to Hashem for guiding him to a life of Torah via copies of The Jewish Press – in, of all places, a desolate and depressing prison where he often thought of taking his own life.
   My friend died last year, and I can’t help but think that the first thing he did in Olam Haba was search out Rabbi Klass in order to introduce himself.

Michael Dallek

(Via E-Mail)


From Father To Daughter
   How refreshing it was to read the sensitive, loving reflections of Naomi Klass Mauer on the occasion of the seventh yahrzeit of her father, HaRav HaGoan Reb Shalom Klass, zt”l (Jewish Press, January 26). It is rare to hear American-born children (even those who may be grandparents in their own right) vividly manifest such awe and deep respect for their parents.
   In addition to his many other accomplishments, Rav Klass – a gaon in Torah, a baki b’Shas and a brilliant publisher – imbued in his daughter a legacy of warm, loving memories that to this day inspires the life mission of her family.

Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen

West Palm Beach, FL


French Commitment
   Re your February 9 editorial “Where in the World is Abe Foxman?”:
   France was one of the first countries to lay down three clear principles for dialogue with any Palestinian government: the renunciation of violence, recognition of the State of Israel and recognition of the agreements signed in the past by Israel and the PLO.
   On January 26, 2006, the day after the Palestinian elections, French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy declared: “It is essential, today, for the government which is going to emerge from the polls very clearly, explicitly and publicly to renounce violence and declare that it recognizes the existence of the State of Israel and its right to live in peace and security, and, above all, that it recognizes all the agreements between the State of Israel and the PLO signed in the past.”
   These principles are now prerequisites in the Quartet’s peace efforts.
   Regarding the threat of a nuclear Iran, President Chirac reiterated on February 1 that France cannot accept the prospect of an Iran with nuclear weapons and is asking Iran to comply with its commitments under the NPT. Together with the international community, France has demanded that Iran, which has not proved that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes, implement the IAEA and UN resolutions.
   Such a serious matter, on which the commitment of France and President Chirac is constant, cannot be the subject of a war of words.

Fran?ois Delattre

French Consul General

New York, NY


ZOA’s Popularity
   Jonathan Tobin (“Who Will Speak for the Jews?” op-ed, Feb. 9) claims the Zionist Organization of America has lost popularity due to its positions against Oslo and the Gaza withdrawal. In fact, ZOA’s support has improved dramatically, as evidenced by, among other developments, a seven-fold increase in our budget over the past few years.
   The Wall Street Journalhas referred to ZOA “the most credible advocate for Israel in America,” while the Israeli daily Maariv has called ZOA “the most influential group in America.”
   ZOA’s national dinners regularly attract more than 1,000 people, with recent honorees including such giants of the Jewish communal world as Mortimer Zuckerman, James Tisch and Ronald Lauder – all former chairmen of the Presidents Conference.
   No wonder the new EncyclopediaJudaica, which has two listings on Mort Klein and ZOA, states that Mr. Klein “revived a moribund organization and brought ZOA to prominence … making it one of the most visible Jewish groups in America.”

Rabbi Albert Gabbai

Rabbi Fred Kazan

Members, ZOA Board




Still More On The ‘S’ Word


Banish The Word


      Re Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s “The ‘S’ Word Has No Place In A Religious Jew’s Vocabulary” (op-ed, Feb. 2):
      This was a long overdue article, but well worth the wait. The lack of voices speaking out against such an inherently offensive term as “shvartza” not only makes a horrible impression on non-Jews (and certainly the term does its part to increase anti-Semitism within the black community), it also serves to alienate black Jews.
      According to members of the organization Ayecha, young Jews of color go “off the derech” at a far higher rate than their counterparts of European descent. One common reason given by these kids is that they could not deal with being called “shvartza” on a regular basis.
      This term is one of the most offensive in the Yiddish language and its usage – along with racist conduct in general – has never been becoming for religious Jews. It should be banished from our vocabulary.

Yitz Jordan

(Via E-Mail)


A Great Chillul Hashem

      I am a regular Jewish Press reader who wishes to strongly endorse and give a hearty yasher koach to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach for his article on the “S” word.
      For many years I have taken the position with toddlers (yes, three-year-old children hear it at home and repeat it), teens, and my own contemporaries that the very derogatory and offensive “S” word is completely unacceptable. When I was growing up, we were the only family I knew in which the word “shvartza” was understood to be taboo. And when I raised my now adult children, it was clear to them and anyone who came into our home that this word was not to be uttered.
      I challenge anyone who uses this word to rethink his or her actions and choose another term when referring to people of color. We must recognize the use of this word as the great chillul Hashem it is.
      About 20 years ago, I stood up and walked out on a lecture by a world-renowned speaker visiting our community when she used that word. Several friends accompanied me and later, to her credit, the speaker issued a private apology.
      Let’s be conscious of the fact that words often reveal much about our values and sensitivities. We are taught from the time we’re children that words have great power. We can all do better.

Selma H. Elzas

Toronto, Canada


‘Disingenuous’ Letter

      I could not believe reader Chaya Blitzer’s defense of the “S” word (Letters, Feb. 9).
      First, her claim that “shvartza” is merely the Yiddish equivalent of “black” is completely disingenuous. The Yiddish term for “black” is “shvartz.” But who ever heard of someone referring to a black person as a “shvartz“? Adding the vowel “a” (or “e”) to “shvartz” turns the word into something demeaning, like “blackie.” It’s no longer a strict translation of “black.” Besides, just listen to the tone of voice that’s used the next time you hear someone say “shvartza.” It’s usually not very respectful or admiring, to say the least.
      And then Ms. Blitzer tries to justify the use of “shvartza” by making the claim that no group was more supportive of the civil rights movement than Jews. That’s a strange thing to say since Rabbi Boteach was addressing himself primarily to Orthodox Jews – who, sad to say, played an almost negligible role in the fight for black civil rights.
      As an Orthodox Jew it pains me to write this, but Orthodox rabbis (like Saul Berman) who went down South to march for civil rights at risk of life and limb were few and far between. As any serious student of history knows, it was the Conservative rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and the Reform rabbi Joachim Prinz who were routinely photographed as they accompanied Martin Luther King on his marches in the South and on his trips to Washington. Can anyone name even one prominent Orthodox rabbi who was similarly involved?
Avi Gordon
(Via E-Mail)

It’s The Context


      When I grew up in the 1950′s and 60′s, we knew better than to call a person of color a “nigger” – that was a pejorative term which we did not use. The term “negro,” however, was considered respectful.
      That seems to have changed, though I can’t see why. I have a problem being referred to as a “honky” or a “kike,” but I have no objection to being referred to as a “Caucasian.” There’s nothing insulting about that. Why should people of color have a problem being referred to as “negroes”?
      I don’t like the term African-American. It is too imprecise. Not all people of color stem from lineage that goes back to Africa. I would not want to be referred to as a European-American, though both my parents did come from Europe.
      The moniker “black” was chosen by people of color themselves, and it’s a good one, I think. For people speaking Yiddish, “shvartza” is an exact translation, and, in my opinion, totally acceptable. It’s not the term itself that’s objectionable, as Rabbi Boteach suggests, but whether it’s used in a disparaging context. Then it becomes completely unacceptable.

Chava Hornig

Brooklyn, NY

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/letters-to-the-editor/letters-to-the-editor-176/2007/02/14/

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