By: Dr. Michael Goldblatt
November 21, 2011
Almost 800 Attend ZOA Dinner – Media Superstar Glenn Beck, House Foreign Relations Chair Ros-Lehtinen, Cong. Michele Bachmann & PM Netanyahu Spoke
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann,
Adelsons and Six Congressmembers Attended
Jim Tisch and Martin Gross Co-Dinner Chairs
NEW YORK – Almost 800 people attended the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) 114th Louis B. Brandeis Award National Dinner on Sunday, November 20 at the New York City’s elegant Grand Hyatt Hotel. Media superstar and seven-time NY Times best-selling author Glenn Beck, U.S.Congresswoman and House Foreign Relations Committee Chair, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) were keynote speakers at the Dinner at which they were also honored. Mr. Beck was awarded the Dr. Miriam & Sheldon Adelson Defender of Israel Award. U.S. Cong. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu also spoke. Prominent philanthropists Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson spoke and personally presented the Adelson Award to Beck.
U.S. Cong. Ann Marie Buerkle and Robert Turner from NY, Cong. Dan Burton from Indiana and Cong. Joe Walsh from Illinois also attended the Dinner; other prominent guests included Richard Stone, Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Steve Emerson, terrorism expert. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen was awarded the Dr. Irving and Cherna Moskowitz Award. William K. Langfan and Mark Langfan, prominent lawyers and real estate entrepreneurs were honored with the Louis B. Brandeis Award. Jerome & Judy Taylor, distinguished philanthropists, received the Maccabee Award.
In his video address to the Dinner guests, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke of the “remarkable and important ZOA.” ZOA’s “courage and integrity” which, he observed, under Mort Klein’s leadership, had been “absolutely fearless” in fighting for the truth and working to advance the cause of Israel with the government, media and the American public. Mr. Netanyahu said, in these times of “seismic changes across the Middle East,” the ZOA had been “unflinching” in its advocacy for which “I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.” “I also want to congratulate Glenn Beck for winning the Adelson Defender of Israel Award. If Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson put their name on something, it must stand for a lot.” Netanyahu said. “Glenn…you stand for a lot. You too have been fearless in defending Israel against the slanders that are hurled against [it]. You’ve done that with considerable personal cost, but you’ve never backed off, you’ve never flinched, you’ve never walked away. And I want to tell you how deeply we appreciate this stand of courage and integrity.” Prime Minister Netanyahu also strongly praised Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and Miriam and Sheldon Adelson s long-time and powerful supporters of Israel.
ZOA Board Member Harvey Friedman introduced Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, describing her as a “national treasure to every Jew in the U.S.” and describing her legislative efforts opposing U.S. funding of both Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Rep. Ros-Lehtinen came to the podium and was greeted with a standing ovation. In her address, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen commenced by saying that she was “proud to be associated for so many years with ZOA.” She spoke of two Dinner attendees, residents of the Jewish community of Kedumim in Samaria, stating sarcastically that “they’re an impediment to peace, because they live in the Judean & Samarian community of Kedumim.” Turning to the Iranian threat, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen said that the Obama Administration’s policy for stopping Iran had been completely ineffective – “all we’ve got is a further three years closer to Iran getting a nuclear bomb.” She called for further U.S. action, including genuinely “crippling sanctions to help bring this regime down … We passed the sanctions bill [H.R. 1905] targeting Iran’s Central Bank.” Speaking of the U.N. Reform, Transparency and Accountability Act [H.R. 2829], an earlier law which the Congress had passed that cuts funds to UN agencies that raise the states of the Palestinians, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen recounted how the Obama Administration had sought “flexibility” in its application, to which she had retorted with emphasis that “no flexibility” on the law would be allowed. She also referred to the views of the Obama Administration and Palestinian apologists before pausing and adding, “Did I repeat myself?”
Israeli scholar and director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, Professor Efraim Inbar, presented the Louis B. Brandeis Award to William K. Langfan and Mark Langfan. Inbar said, “Bar-Ilan University is the only Zionist university left in Israel,” saying that Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, for example, were “not Zionist” in his opinion. “There are many Bolshevik post-Zionists at these universities, who pack their faculties with similar-minded lecturers. The Israeli universities are overflowing with post-Modernists who undermine not only Zionism but academic truth itself.”
Inbar said that although he knows that there are also Zionist lecturers at the various Social Studies faculties, they are outnumbered. “An evil wind is emanating from these places,” he said.
ZOA National Chairman of the Board, Dr. Michael Goldblatt delivered the presentation to Maccabee Award recipients Judy and Jerome Taylor, noting that they had been “long-time pro-Israel activists” who had worked side by side for years on behalf of Israel. He also noted that Judy Taylor’s father had been involved in prosecuting Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg war crime trials, so that working “to protect Jews was in her genes.”
ZOA National President Morton Klein introduced U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, observing that, while many speak of the importance of Israeli security, all too few speak of “the sacredness of the land of Israel. “If security was the entire issue for Israelis, they should move to Minnesota, it’s safer there.” That’s why we’re there. While noting that the ZOA does not endorse any political candidates, Klein described Rep. Bachman as “dynamic, principled and committed to her beliefs.” Rep. Bachman opened by describing herself as a lover of Israel. “Although I’m not a Jew, I’m a Christian, we have something in common, the book of Genesis, which states that ‘Those who bless Israel will be blessed and those that curse Israel will be cursed.’ I stand with Israel.”
She said her first foreign policy directive on Day 1 of her presidency would be moving the U.S. embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The Palestinians “must recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence” if they expect to become a serious partner for peace. and that, under current conditions, Israel should cede to the Palestinians “not one acre, not one square foot, not one inch.” She chastised President Obama for failing to support Israel, saying, “President Obama stands with Occupy Wall Street, but he doesn’t stand with Israel. When Israel looks at President Obama, they don’t see a friend.” The United States “must sell Israel the additional fighter jets, bunker buster bombs, refueling tankers, and other materials they need to defend themselves,” she said. She also said the United States should continue its “comprehensive missile system” in the Middle East. Rep. Bachman also spoke of the existential threat posed by Iran to both Israel and the U.S., declaring that the “Pentagon should prepare a war plan as a last resort, should all else fail in preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.” She said that, while “only a fool wishes for war,” other steps, like but a naval blockade of Iranian ports, increased intelligence operations against Iran and “crushing economic sanctions” were adequate the gravity of the threat. She called on President Barack Obama “to accelerate covert operations and cyber operations in Iran and order the CIA Director to take all means necessary to stop Iran from getting the Bomb before it is too late.” Asserting that Iranian President Ahmadinejad was “striving for a second Holocaust” Bachman said that “once again millions of Jews are at the precipice of losing their lives today”. Ahmadinejad, she said, “will seek to use nuclear weapons against the US as well – and the US will learn what it is to be Israel if it does not act quickly.” She said that the US Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State and CIA director must all support this “freedom policy” and that those in the bureaucracy who fail to do so – “especially in the State Department” – should be replaced.
ZOA Vice-Chairman of the National Board Steve Goldberg introduced Morton Klein pointing out that “Without Mort, there would be no ZOA. Mort rescued it when it was moribund .. Your shoes are too big and cannot be filled … all the ZOA’s past leaders, including Louis Brandeis and Abba Hillel Silver pale in comparison to Mort Klein.”
Mort Klein commenced his address by praising Christian Zionists for their heartfelt support of Israel, especially at a time Israel has few reliable friends. “We applaud Christian Zionists, thank G-d for you … People forget that Israel is called the Promised Land for a reason – because it was promised to the Jewish people by G-d.” He emphasized that, unlike several other Jewish organizations, the ZOA was active in bringing Jewish students , not just to Israel, but specifically also to Jewish communities in Judea-Samaria like Efrat, Gush Etzion, Maale Adumim, Hebron, Ariel, and so on.
Klein spoke of the ZOA Law and Justice Center, headed by Susan Tuchman, and its important breakthrough in having Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which has applied to blacks and Hispanics, now applied to protecting Jewish students from discrimination, intimidation and harassment. He noted that the Office of Civil Rights would be investigating incidents involving Jewish students at Rutgers University.
In his remarks, Klein criticized Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League and David Harris of the American Jewish Committee for their strong opposition to an Israeli bill on sovereign foreign countries providing millions of dollars to anti-Israel non-governmental organizations that operate in Israel under the guise of being human rights organizations.
Turning to the Arab war on Israel, Klein observed that “the Arab war against Israel has nothing to do with borders, land, settlements or a Palestinian state. It is simply old-fashioned Jew- hatred and anti-Semitism. The Arabs don’t want a Jewish state within any borders. Please understand, Arabs don’t want peace with the Jewish state, they never wanted peace with the Jewish state. And as much as we want peace, Israel will live and thrive without it as it has since 1948.” Klein also noted that the world was silent on the fact that Hamas, with which Mahmoud Abbas’ PA had signed earlier this year a unity government agreement and with whose leader, Khaled Meshaal, Abbas had met earlier in the week, calls in Article 7 of its Charter for the global murder of Jews – “This is a Nazi document, these are Nazi terrorists” and, to show that Fatah is similar, Klein held aloft the Fatah emblem, encompassing all of Israel under a Palestinian kfiyyeh, with a picture of arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat and a Kalashnikov rifle.
Klein continued, “The PA has violated the three legs of the Oslo accords. The PA has not stopped terrorism, has not accepted Israel’s right to exist, and refuses to stop anti-Israel incitement. Why are U.S. officials and Israeli officials not speaking out against this in our serious manner. We should be telling the PA- no more money, no more support, no more concessions. People speak as though a Palestinian state was the solution. It isn’t. Iran, Syria, North Korea – they’re all states, but that hasn’t made them lovely and peaceful. In fact, it gives them more power to advance their terrible agenda. American Jews are now understanding this for the first time since Oslo, a majority of American Jews oppose establishing a Palestinian state.” In a blistering attack on the Palestinians and on U.S. policy, Klein listed unjust accusations hurled against Jews since the time of the Crucifixion, drawing parallels to the current situation of Israel and the Jews and summing up with a sentence that seemed to encapsulate the attitude of most of the evening’s participants: “The whole world is wrong, and the Jews are right.” Klein received a standing ovation.
Sheldon Adelson and Dr. Miriam Adelson, stalwart supporters of ZOA and recipients of its rarely bestowed Theodor Herzl Gold Medallion and Brandeis Award respectively, introduced keynote speaker Glenn Beck. Mr. Adelson said first of Mort Klein that ”I used to think that my wife was the strongest Zionist until I met Mort. He’s my Zionist mentor. He’s the greatest and most passionate Zionist, not only in this country but in the world.” In introducing Mr. Beck, Mr. Adelson described him as a ”very special man …. We knew he was a giant even before we met him. I’d never known a Christian Zionist like Glenn Beck. Glenn Beck tells the truth about the Arab war against Israel.” Adelson, also the publisher of Israel Hayom (now Israel’s largest daily newspaper), added there is “no greater supporter of Israel in the media today” than Beck. When Palestinians murdered five members of the Fogel family in last March’s Itamar massacre, Beck dedicated an entire show on Fox News to the tragedy and “displayed the pictures that almost every other television network ignored” – Palestinians celebrating the event by handing out candles in the streets – Adelson said.
Glenn Beck came to the podium amid a standing ovation and commenced his address with the words, “Well, this isn’t going to help my popularity with the media .. I am a proud Christian Zionist. I know what that means in today’s world. But I put all my chips on the table. Is there a G-d? And if so, how shall I serve Him? The whole world is in the middle of a profound and dramatic change, but the change need not be bad. History is calling us now.” Beck talked about the danger facing Jews because today the world is “aiding and abetting” the ranting of many madmen who are out to destroy Israel and the Jewish people. He pledged to announce on December 8 where he is headed – “there is a vacuum and I intend to stand in its place,” he said – but gave no details as to what he was referring to. Beck said, “Many times you cannot tell the difference any more between peace activists and the terrorists and fascists they claim to stand against.” Mr. Beck reflected on the eight years since he had first gone to Israel and the evolution of his understanding of the country, and how few genuine friends it has, joking, “This is what bad shape things are in, you’ve got me.”
Speaking of the numerous individuals and groups working actively against Israel and the Jewish people, Mr. Beck said that “It’s a badge of honor to be called an enemy of George Soros. Soros is not a friend of Israel and, let me say, neither is the Administration. But let me tell you we, the people of the United States are not the government, we are a country built on the individual, not on the government.”
Mr. Beck cast his mind back to several predictions and warnings he has given over the past decade and how he had been looking for what he called the “Archduke Ferdinand moment,” referring to the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand which had triggered World War One. “I spoke of a coming caliphate. I was ridiculed. I even once put it up on a chat on my program, saying ‘This is what is coming’ … It will get worse if we don’t stand together now. We must stand with Israel … Jerusalem must remain Israel’s “united and undivided capital … I don’t come here as a Christian. I come here as a brother. Evil hates you. It has since the beginning of time. Evil thinks it can somehow force G-d to break his covenant and that it can destroy the Jewish people. Israel wasn’t established because of the Holocaust. That’s just the last time such an attempt was made. Israel was promised by G-d to the Jews.” Mr. Beck pledged to continue his work to speak the truth and to arouse the conscience of his listeners and was given a tumultuous standing ovation.
This year, a record number of college students – well over 100 – attended the Dinner. James A. Tisch, former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and NY Jewish Federation, and CEO of Loews Corp.; and Martin Gross, President of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Member of the Board of Trustees of Brandeis University, were Dinner Co-Chairmen. Rabbi Mark Wildes, director of the Manhattan Jewish Experience, delivered the invocation. ZOA Executive Director David Drimer and the entire ZOA staff worked hard on all aspects of the Dinner and Dr. Alan Mazurek, Chairman of the ZOA’s National Advisory Council, was Master of Ceremonies, presiding over proceedings with his usual aplomb and elegant wit.