Over 800 People Attended
NEW YORK- More than 800 people attended the Zionist Organization of America’s national dinner in New York City on December 12, 2004, at which the keynote speaker, U.S. Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), pledged to work for implementation of the 1995 law requiring the construction of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
Brownback, one of the most influential and important lawmakers in Washington as well as one of the most outspoken supporters of Israel on Capitol Hill, spoke at the ZOA’s 108th anniversary Justice Louis D. Brandeis Award Dinner, which was held at the luxurious Marriott Marquis Hotel. Brownback, who is one of the few Members of Congress ever to address the Knesset, received the ZOA’s Defender of Israel Award.
In his remarks, Brownback spoke of his heartfelt love for Israel and the Jewish people, and said he apologized, as a Christian, for the centuries of Christian anti-Semitism. He pledged to “work hard in the coming year” to bring about the fulfillment of the Jerusalem Embassy Law. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations repeatedly refused to implement the law on the grounds that it would adversely affect U.S. national security.
Senator Brownback, who is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, also said he will support “any military action that Israel deems necessary to defend its people against Arab terrorists.”
Israeli statesman Uzi Landau, in his remarks, warned that a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza “could lead to the establishment of a Hamas-Al Qaeda state on Israel’s doorstep.” He said there should be no Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and no surrender of land to the terrorist PA regime. Knesset Member Landau, a former cabinet minister and the former chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, said that “Israel’s war against terrorism is the same as America’s war against terrorism, and any concession made to a terrorist anywhere is a victory for terrorists everywhere, and sends a message that terrorism pays.” At the dinner, Landau received the ZOA’s Judah Maccabee Award for his efforts on behalf of the Land of Israel.
Dr. Daniel Pipes, the noted Mideast scholar and nationally syndicated columnist, received the ZOA’s Ben Hecht Award for Outstanding Journalism on the Middle East. In his remarks, Dr. Pipes spoke about the threat of militant, radical Islam to America and the world.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein, in his remarks at the dinner, said there should be no negotiations with PLO chairman Mahmoud Abbas or PA prime Minister Ahmed Qurei and no talk of any Israeli concessions until there is a completely new Palestinian Arab leadership, made of people who have had no connection whatsoever to the terrorist PLO or the terrorist PA regime. He pointed out that contrary to Western media portrayals of Abbas and Qurei as “moderates,” in fact they are “terrorists in moderates’ clothing,” noting: Abbas has called for the mass “return” of millions of Arabs to Israel; has said that “cracking down on Hamas, Jihad and the Palestinian organizations is not an option at all”; has offered cabinet positions to leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad; has praised Arab terrorists as “heroes”; and authored a book denying that the Nazis murdered six million Jews. Qurei has said there should be no PA action against terrorists; he attacked President Bush for referring to Israel as a Jewish State; he called the Balfour Declaration of 1917 a “historic mistake”; and publicly trampled upon an Israeli flag.
Also speaking was David Hatuel, a Jewish resident of Gaza whose pregnant wife and four young daughters were murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists earlier this year. He said the policy of forcing innocent Jews out of their homes in Gaza is “immoral.” Daniella Weiss, mayor of the town of Kedumim in Samaria, spoke about the right of the Jewish people to Judea and Samaria, and the hardships faced by the Jewish residents of those areas in the face of the Palestinian Authority’s daily terrorist war. She said the Oslo process had led to increased terrorism, because Israel’s surrender of land and release of imprisoned terrorists had convinced the Palestinian Arabs that there is now a possibility of destroying Israel.
The ZOA’s Brandeis Award was given to two distinguished Jewish leaders: Michael Orbach, prominent businessman and former chairman of the ZOA national board; and Martin Gross, Esq., president of Sandalwood Securities, and a member of the board of the national ZOA, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Longtime ZOA leader Dr. Alan Mazurek was the dinner’s Master of Ceremonies. World-renowned Rabbi Moshe Tendler, former dean of Yeshiva University’s rabbinical school, and Professor of Talmud, and chairman of Y.U.’s Biology Department, delivered the invocation.
ZOA National Convention Held
The dinner coincided with the ZOA’s 94th national convention, at which Morton A. Klein was re-elected national president; Dr. Michael Goldblatt was elected chairman of the national board; Irwin Hochberg (past chairman of the UJA-Federation of New York and past national chair of Israel Bonds) was elected vice-chairman of the board; Dr. Alan Mazurek was elected chairman of the National Executive Committee; Robert Guzzardi was elected vice-chairman of the National Executive Committee.
The speakers at the convention were Israeli statesman Uzi Landau, who spoke about the current situation in the Middle East; syndicated columnist and attorney Debra Schlussel, who spoke about UNRWAs involvement in anti-Israel terrorism, and the issue of some American Muslim groups and terrorism; and Dr. Charles Jacobs, founder and president of The David Project, who hosted a special screening of his acclaimed film, Columbia Unbecoming, which documents the intimidation of pro-Israel students by Columbia University professors and other troubling events on campus. This controversial film has been the subject of articles in the New York Times and many other leading newspapers in recent weeks.
The convention also featured a special workshop on local pro-Israel activism, led by Philadelphia ZOA executive director Steve Feldman.