January 15, 2010

ZOA in Jewish World about ZOA Dinner






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



“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.