November 28, 2016
News Press Release

ZOA Urges Hadassah and Conservative Judaism Movement: Retract Your False Statements/Campaign Calling Trump Aide Stephen Bannon Anti-Semitic- He’s a Friend of Israel and Jews.

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its boots.” 

– Mark Twain

Keep far away from falsehood.”

Exodus 23:7

I, Morton A. Klein, am a child of holocaust survivors born in a displaced persons camp in Germany, and lost most of my family to that monstrous war against the Jews. If there were a hint of anti- Semitism in Stephen Bannon’s background I would be the first to scream out and fight against him.

But because, in the words of pro-Israel author of a respected book on anti-Semitism, Dennis Prager, on the charge of Bannon’s anti-Semitism, “it’s a vile libelous lie, fabricated,  and a witchhunt,”  I and the  ZOA urge the Conservative Judaism Movement and Hadassah to discontinue their false, misguided, and hurtful campaigns against a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people – President-elect Trump’s appointee Stephen K. Bannon.  The Conservative Judaism Movement and Hadassah apparently mistakenly based their anti-Bannon campaigns on false information that has since been disproven and retracted.  The anti-Bannon statements and campaigns are character assassination of the worst kind against a friend of Israel and the Jewish people.   Professor Alan Dershowitz, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Dennis Prager, pro-Israel philanthropist and Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, J Post’s Melanie Phillips, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and other Israeli leaders, writer and Orthodox Jew Joel Pollak and others all say that Mr. Bannon is  not anti-Semitic.

Professor Alan Dershowitz, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Dennis Prager, pro-Israel philanthropist and Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus, J Post’s Melanie Phillips, Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and other Israeli leaders all say that Mr. Bannon is  not anti-Semitic.

It is important that the Conservative Judaism Movement and Hadassah stop being the “Jews of Silence” when it comes to a real enemy of Israel and the Jewish people – namely real anti-Semite, Israel-basher, promoter of anti-Israel legislation and anti-Israel platform planks and longtime Farrakhan / Nation of Islam activist Cong. Keith Ellison. Cong. Ellison is the leading candidate to become Chair of the Democratic National Committee. He will then control funds for candidates and have a powerful platform to spew his anti-Israel attitudes. Ellison has referred to Israel as an apartheid State, voted against Iron Dome funding, compared 9-11 to Reichstag German Parliament building fire which brought Hitler to power, and said don’t kill Islamic terrorist leaders because they want to be martyrs. (For details on Ellison’s horrendous record, see: “ZOA: Don’t Appoint Israel-Basher Cong. Keith Ellison Chair of the Democratic National Committee,” Nov. 18, 2016.)

Would Hadassah and the Conservative movement be silent if Ellison were running for Chair of the Republican National Committee? ZOA surely would not just as we speak out against him now.

Stephen Bannon of Breitbart News has been a great ally in ZOA’s and Jewish students’ efforts to combat anti-Semitism at City University of New York (CUNY) and other universities.  At CUNY, vicious Students for Justice for Palestine (SJP) demonstrators screamed “Intifada!  Intifada!  Death to the Jews!” at Jewish students.  When Mr. Bannon heard this, Mr. Bannon instructed his reporters to contact and urge CUNY officials and New York Governor Cuomo to take action to stop the anti-Semitism at CUNY.”  

Mr. Bannon opened an entire Breitbart News Jerusalem bureau (whose symbol is a blue and white “B” and Jewish star) to combat the “overwhelming anti-Israel sentiment in Western media.”  Breitbart News also wrote: “Israel is the lone democracy in the most tumultuous region in the world, yet most of the American press portrays the small country as morally equivalent–if not morally inferior–to those who seek to destroy it.”  (“Breitbart News Continues International Expansion With Launch Of Breitbart Jerusalem,” Nov. 17, 2015.)

Mr. Bannon’s Breitbart News articles are at the forefront, helping the Jewish people today.  Mr. Bannon and his Breitbart News support Israel; combat anti-Semitism; combat anti-Semitic boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS); write about the human cost of anti-Semitism (including the pain felt by a Jewish student who found a swastika painted on her dorm door); expose the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s falsehoods and incitement of terror against the Jewish people; and expose Iran’s violations of the Iran nuclear deal.   (See “ZOA Criticizes ADL for Falsely Alleging Trump Advisor Bannon is Anti-Semitic,” for references to many such Breitbart articles.)

So what is going on here?   The falsehood that Mr. Bannon is ‘anti-Semitic” appears to have started with a false (later retracted) statement by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

ZOA spoke in favor of Mr. Bannon from its own experience, and from the experience of people we know who know Mr. Bannon well, and based on ZOA’s detailed analysis of Breitbart articles.  In addition to confirming that Mr. Bannon and Breitbart’s fight against anti-Semitism, we also found that Breitbart’s staff criticizes – and does not support –despicable “alt right” white supremacists, and racists.

Orthodox Jewish pro-Israel writer Joel B. Pollak – who worked with Mr. Bannon for six years and knows him well – wrote that Mr. Bannon is “an American patriot who defends Israel & has deep empathy for the Jewish people.”  (Stephen K. Bannon: Friend of the Jewish People, Defender of Israel,” by Joel B. Pollak, Nov 14, 2016.)

Staunch liberal Democrat Alan Dershowitz also defended Mr. Bannon, noting that he has “not seen any evidence of personal anti-Semitism on the part of Bannon” and that the claims that Mr. Bannon was anti-Semitic “demeaned the term ‘anti-Semitism.”  (“Liberal Democrat Alan Dershowitz Defends Bannon,” Nov. 15, 2016.) Dennis Prager said, “You are living through a leftwing lie as it is hatched. It’s an amazing moment to see. There is not a shred of evidence that Bannon is an anti-semite.”

Faced with such overwhelming evidence, the ADL quietly walked back its initial accusation, and now the ADL states: “We are not aware of any anti-Semitic statements from Bannon.”  (See Anti-Defamation League Backs Down: ‘We Are Not Aware of Any Anti-Semitic Statements from Bannon,” by Joel B. Pollak, Nov. 17, 2016, which also described how, sadly the ADL has continued to smear Mr. Bannon with other falsehoods.)   

Unfortunately, it appears that while the truth was “still putting on its boots,” the falsehoods about Mr. Bannon spread, resulting in the Conservative Judaism Movement issuing a statement wrongly accusing Mr. Bannon of “anti-Semitism” and “white nationalism,” and a Hadassah campaign against Mr. Bannon that wrongly equates opposing Mr. Bannon to “combatting anti-Semitism” and strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship.”

ZOA urges the Conservative Judaism Movement and Hadassah to immediately discontinue their false misguided, hurtful campaigns against a great ally and friend of Israel and the Jewish people.