January 15, 2010

ZOA in Jewish World about ZOA Dinner


 

 


 

 

OUT & ABOUT

at the Zionist Organization of America Justice Brandeis Award Dinner

 

By Gabe Kahn


 


The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest pro-Israel


organization in the U.S., presented Sheldon Adelson with the Theodor Herzl Gold


Medallion. Adelson, chairman and CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, was only


the 18th recipient of the award given to individuals who have made a


“unique, lasting and historic contribution to the cause of Zionism and the Jewish


people.” Past recipients of the Herzl Gold Medallion include Sir Winston


Churchill, President Harry S. Truman and Israeli Prime Ministers David


Ben-Gurion and Golda Meir.


 


The award was presented to Adelson at the Justice Brandeis Award Dinner,


held at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan on Dec. 13. Among his many contributions


to Zionist and Jewish causes, Adelson has donated $90 million to Birthright


Israel, a program that has sent tens of thousands of young Jewish adults on


a free 10-day trip to Israel.


 


Adelson has recently come under fire for owning the right-wing Israeli


newspaper, Israel HaYom. Because of the free daily’s staunch support of Israeli


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, some members of the Israeli Knesset even


went so far as to present a bill banning ownership of a Hebrew-language


newspaper by anyone not an Israeli resident or citizen. The bill is not expected


to pass.


 


That same night, Adelson’s wife, Dr. Miriam Adelson, received the ZOA Louis


D. Brandeis Award, bestowed upon individuals who demonstrate


extraordinarily dedicated service to Israel, the Jewish people and the community. Dr.


Adelson has devoted her career to internal and emergency medicine and, some 20


years ago, developed a unique specialty in the areas of chemical dependency


and drug addiction.


 


The dinner, which took place on the third night of Hanukkah, featured a


number of high-profile speakers and guests including: Netanyahu, who


delivered a video address; Cong. Eric Cantor, House minority whip, the keynote


speaker during the first course; and General Moshe Ya’alon, Israel’s vice prime


minister and minister of strategic affairs, who delivered the keynote


address during the dinner. Renowned author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach gave the


invocation and led the audience in reciting the blessings over the Hanukkah candles.


Morton A. Klein, ZOA national president, presented the Adelsons with their


respective awards, referring to Sheldon Adelson as a “visionary, possessing


a mastery of facts and brilliance in analyzing complexities. In the proper


sense of the word, he is a genius.” Later, Klein, an outspoken supporter of


Israel, asked, “What sort of peace process is it that, instead of jailing


terrorists, [Palestinian President] Mahmoud Abbas demands the release of


terrorists? If you truly want peace you lock up terrorists.”


 


The ZOA also honored Robert Guzzardi, Esq., a political activist, with the


Irving and Cherna Moskowitz Award, given to an individual with a record of


outstanding Jewish and pro-Israel activism. Guzzardi currently serves as a


board member of ZOA and the vice chairman of its national executive committee


and supports a number of candidates and causes that emphasize the strong


defense of Israel.


 


Jeff Jacoby, an op-ed columnist for the Boston Globe, was presented with


the Ben Hecht Award for Outstanding Journalism, awarded annually to a


journalist, author or essayist whose writing benefits Israel, Zionism and world


Jewry.


 


“It was a wonderful evening of Jewish unity and an expression of support


for Israel,” according to Rubin Margolis, the president of the Brooklyn region


of ZOA. “The one thing that applies to ZOA more than all other Jewish


organizations is that they tell it like it is. Whether it’s regarding the Obama


administration or the Israeli government, they tell the truth.”


 


True to form, Klein recently reprimanded former President Jimmy Carter for


criticizing Israel in an article in the London Guardian on the same day that


he apologized to the Jewish community for his past negative statements


regarding the Israeli government. Klein characterized the apology as


disingenuous, saying that “one has only to look to Jimmy Carter’s latest Guardian


piece to see how unchanged his hostility to Israel is.” The ZOA national


president also called for leaders of Jewish organizations who had previously ac


cepted Carter’s apology, such as Abe Foxman of the Anti- Defamation League and


Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, to withdraw their


supportive remarks. Political pundits have openly questioned whether Carter offered


the apology because his grandson, Jason Carter, is running for a state senate


seat in Georgia.