Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:
ZOA urges former ADL Director Abe Foxman to publicly correct his false accusations that ZOA misled Mr. Foxman regarding ZOA’s gala dinner, that took place Sunday, November 20, 2016.
Mr. Foxman claims he wanted to come ZOA’s Dinner because his friend Home Depot’s co-founder Bernie Marcus was being honored – but cancelled, he professed, upon learning that Trump advisor Stephen Bannon was attending (whom ADL falsely accused of anti-Semitism and later retracted). But Bernie Marcus, who personally knows Stephen Bannon, had already released a statement on Republican Jewish Coalition stationary strongly defending and praising Mr. Bannon as a great friend of Israel. If Foxman’s concern was Bannon and ‘politicization,’ why did Foxman ask to attend the dinner after Marcus’ public statement?
What really happened was Mr. Foxman spoke to ZOA’s co-dinner chair several days ago (on November 16, 2016), and asked if he could attend ZOA’s gala dinner. Mr. Foxman never spoke to ZOA president Morton Klein. At the time when Mr. Foxman asked to attend the ZOA gala, it was already well known that Stephen Bannon, Chief Advisor to President-elect Donald J. Trump, would be attending. ZOA had announced Mr. Bannon’s attendance early on Tuesday, November 15, 2016. Also on Tuesday November 15, press outlets including Haaretz; Jewish Journal; and the Algemeiner had widely publicized Mr. Bannon’s attendance at ZOA’s upcoming gala.
More importantly, after receiving Mr. Foxman’s request on Wednesday, ZOA graciously agreed that Mr. Foxman could attend the ZOA gala as our guest. ZOA’s announcement of prominent new dinner attendees on Wednesday included Mr. Foxman and Israeli Minister Naphtali Bennett.
It is deeply disappointing that Thursday Nov. 17, Mr. Foxman repaid ZOA’s graciousness towards him with publicly issuing false accusations. (See “Abe Foxman Shuns ZOA Gala Over Steve Bannon Invite,” by Dave Goldiner, The Forward, Nov. 17, 2016) He is now falsely claiming that he decided to not attend ZOA’s gala after Mr. Bannon’s attendance was announced. In fact, it is the other way around. Mr. Foxman first asked to attend the ZOA gala well after Mr. Bannon’s attendance was publicized.
Mr. Foxman’s accusation that “ZOA manipulated and abused my trust when they announced my decision to attend without my permission because they have politicized this event” is also nonsensical. ZOA’s custom of announcing prominent dinner attendees is well known, and such attendees are announced regardless of their political affiliation. Mr. Foxman, who generally loves publicity, did not ask to have his name omitted or withheld. Further, ZOA’s announcement on Wednesday was not “politicized.” ZOA respectfully announced both Mr. Foxman (who happens to be left-of-center) and Minister Bennet (who happens to be right-of-center). Similarly, ZOA’s dinner is not “politicized.” Honorees this year included Republican Congressman Ed Royce as well as Liberal Democrat Alan Dershowitz. And a major Democratic leader in the US Senate had requested to come and speak. ZOA readily accepted his offer.
Moreover Foxman’s professed concern that ZOA announced he was attending makes no sense. The 1200 people plus large numbers of press at the ZOA gala would have become aware that Abe Foxman was there, and word would have spread. If Mr. Foxman were truly concerned about people knowing he was attending the ZOA gala, he would never have asked to come to it.
We hope that Mr. Foxman will have the decency to correct his untrue statements.