Over 800 People Attend ZOA Dinner
Abramowitz & Marcus also honored
NEW YORK — Over 800 people came to the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National Dinner last week at the Marriot Marquis Hotel in New York City. This year’s recipient of the Louis D. Brandeis Award, the ZOA’s highest honor, was Mortimer B. Zuckerman, co-founder and chairman of Boston Properties and chairman of U.S. News & World Report and the New York Daily News.
Dinner Co-chairs were Ronald Lauder and James Tisch, also both former chairmen of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and distinguished Jewish leaders active for decades in a variety of Jewish and Israel-related causes. ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said in his remarks that the presence of Zuckerman, Tisch and Lauder meant that the ZOA was hosting at its dinner the “rock stars of the Jewish world.” This is the first occasion in which three past presidents of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations have been honored at a Jewish organizational event.
Mr. Zuckerman was honored for a lifetime of active support for Zionism and international Jewish causes, his strong advocacy for Israel on security matters in his eloquent columns, speeches and regular guest appearance on TV’s “The McLaughlin Group.” Zuckerman has written numerous articles exposing the truth about the Arab war upon Israel and praised the ZOA’s efforts to “Inform America about the terrorists that seek Israel’s destruction and the dangers to America of Israeli concessions to them.”
Mr. Tisch is the CEO of Loews Corporation and is also past chairman of the Board of United Jewish Communities and past President of UJA-Federation of New York. Mr. Tisch praised ZOA’s efforts to publicize the Palestinian breaches of both the Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan. Tisch called ZOA’s Mort Klein, “serious and honest.”
Mr. Lauder is the national president of the Jewish National Fund and has served formerly as U.S. Ambassador to Austria. Today he serves as director of the International Board of Governors of the International Society for Yad Vashem and is a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and the Board of Directors of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He has also been a major force in resurrecting Jewish schools, camps and community centers in Eastern Europe.
R. James Woolsey, former Director of the CIA under President Bill Clinton, was ZOA’s Keynote Speaker. Woolsey was honored with the ZOA’s Defender of Israel Award and delivered an incisive speech in which he laid out the common dangers facing Israel and the United States from radical Islamist terrorist movements, stating, “Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies.” Woolsey spoke of the dangers of Western retreat and concessions which emboldened the terrorists and referred to the war waged by Islamists upon Judeo-Christian civilization and the rule of law, which he described as the special gift of Judaism to mankind.
Woolsey, who argued earlier this year in the Wall Street Journal against Israel making further unilateral concessions like last year’s withdrawal from Gaza, said that it is fantasy to believe that the jihadists who commit acts of terror in Israel and around the world can be appeased by Israeli concessions. He argued strongly that the ambitions of the jihadists include subjugating anyone who is not of their faith and eliminating the values of Western civilization. Woolsey dwelt on the dissemination by Saudi Arabia of religiously-inspired hate material among American Muslims through mosques across the United States. He described some of the literature he had seen as “genocidal in character,” and no better than the extremist curriculum that is radicalizing Muslim youth in Pakistani madrassahs also supported by Saudi Arabia.
Woolsey addressed the threat to world peace and the existence of Israel posed by the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of whom he said that he was a man of such virulent extremism that he is regarded as a hardliner even within regime circles in Tehran. He said that Iran’s involvement in promoting terrorism world-wide is unsurpassed but cautioned his audience, “If you want to know who funds terror, the next time you pull into a gas station and fill up your car, adjust the rear-view mirror as you pull out so you can see yourself.” Woolsey stressed that it is vital for the Western world to develop alternative sources of energy if we are to stop the huge transfer of wealth to the oil-producing countries that are underwriting terrorism. Woolsey received a standing ovation at the conclusion of his address.
The ZOA’s Ben Hecht Award for Outstanding Journalism on the Middle East was presented to Itamar Marcus, the founder and Director of Palestinian Media Watch, which analyzes the Palestinian Authority through the PA’s media and schoolbooks. Marcus represented Israel in the negotiations with the Palestinians on the Trilateral Anti-Incitement Committee during the latter years of the Oslo process. After praising ZOA for taking the lead among American Jewish organizations in consistently exposing the duplicity and extremism of the Palestinian leadership and the indoctrination of hatred into Palestinian society, Marcus riveted the audience with a chilling audio-visual demonstration of the continuing incitement to hatred and murder of Jews within the media, mosques, schools and youth camps of the Palestinian Authority. Video clips included horrifying excerpts of interviews with young children proclaiming their desire to kill themselves by murdering Jews and sermons by Palestinian Muslim clerics describing Jews as evil and akin to the AIDS virus. Marcus also showed excerpts of Palestinian school graduation celebrations that included various dances to lyrics speaking of murder and destruction of Israel. Another segment of Marcus’ presentation showed a television discussion between Palestinian academics who appropriated Jewish history for the Palestinians while denying any link between the Jewish people and the land of Israel, one of them even saying that he had more blood in his veins of biblical Israelites than present-day Jews.
Marcus also spoke of the disguised extremism of Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas who, while proclaiming publicly in the West that he and the Palestinian Authority recognize Israel, stated unequivocally in an ‘Al-Arabiyya’ television interview that neither the Fatah he co-founded and heads nor Hamas need recognize Israel. Abbas was shown stating that formal recognition by the Palestinian Authority is simply a means of extracting concession from Israel. Marcus also showed how anti-Israel extremism permeates all facets of Palestinian society, noting that even mundane things like crossword puzzles and quizzes are regularly utilized to inculcate anti-Jewish propaganda. He also referred to the fact that several Palestinian soccer teams had all been named after suicide bombers and other terrorists.
Marcus said that that most of the material that he had shown the audience does not appear in the Western media, and forked-tongued Palestinian spokesmen are adept at delivering conciliatory messages in English while inciting against Israel in Arabic to their own constituency.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein, in his remarks at the dinner said that, despite major Israeli concessions, Israel has received in return the election of Hamas, more terrorism, more weapons smuggling into Gaza by Palestinian terrorists, including anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles and more aggression from Gaza and Lebanon. Klein said, “I’m sick and tired of people talking about land for peace, more concession for peace. It’s high time to tell the simple truth — the Arab world doesn’t want peace and never wanted peace with Israel. They want its destruction. The Palestinian Arabs were offered statehood in 1937, 1948 and 2000 and turned it down every time.” There was a tremendous ovation from the audience in response to this remark.
Klein said that Israel’s enemies simply see Israel in retreat and are emboldened to increase their attacks and do more harm whereas it must be a key element of Israel strategy to ensure that the terrorist’s agenda moves backwards, not forwards. Klein also amplified Marcus’s remarks on the extremism of Mahmoud Abbas, noting that not only had he co-founded the Fatah terrorist organization with Yasser Arafat, served as his deputy for forty years, and written a PhD and published a book denying the Holocaust, but since becoming president he had praised terrorists, vowed to protect them, approved legislation providing benefits to families of suicide bombers, provided funding to armed units of Hamas and refused to condemn terrorism against Jews as a crime or publicly accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. Klein said, “We should stop talking about a Palestinian state as though this would make them civilized and peaceful. North Korea, Iran and Syria are all states. Are they lovely? Is their conduct peaceful?”
Kenneth Abramowitz, who is chairman of American Friends of Likud and serves on the Board of Friends of the IDF, received the ZOA’s Distinguished Leadership Award for his tireless advocacy on behalf of Israel. In accepting the award, Mr. Abramowitz warned against the danger of Israel making more concessions to the Palestinian Authority.
Congressmen Anthony Wiener (D-NY) also attended the Dinner and took the podium to commend ZOA on its magnificent work in building support for Israel in Congress and helping to educate the public about the perils Israel faces in the Middle East. He announced proudly that he comes from the “ZOA wing of the Democratic Party.”
Among the numerous distinguished guests who attended the Dinner were Kenneth Bialkin, Malcolm Hoenlein, Steve Emerson and a number of national board members of AIPAC. Mr. Bialkin is a past chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Mr. Hoenlein is executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations. Mr. Emerson is director of the Investigative Project and is America’s most renowned expert on terrorism
Other highlights of the evening included the thrilling voice of Cantor Joseph Malovany. Rabbi Meir Soloveichik of Manhattan’s Kehillat Jeshurun Synagogue delivered an inspiring invocation. ZOA Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt and ZOA Board Member Michael Orbach, prominent investment manager and Board member of Brandeis University and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy Martin Gross and Director of the American Center for Democracy Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld introduced the speakers and honorees. Dr. Alan Mazurek, chairman of ZOA’s Executive Committee, was the Master of Ceremonies and presided over the Dinner with aplomb, wit and humor.