It was completely wrong for Bret Stephens to criticize Steve Bannon’s appearance at the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) gala and to defame Bannon as an “anti-Semitic Zionist . . . who embraces anti Semites.” (“Steve Bannon is Bad for the Jews,” Stephens, 11/16/17.) I am a child of Holocaust survivors; the Nazis murdered most of my family. I despise neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, and racists. Neither I nor other ZOA gala speakers (Alan Dershowitz, Senator Joe Lieberman, US Ambassador David Friedman, etc.) would have shared a dais and happily taken pictures with Bannon, if he were anti- Semitic.
Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer called me, while Bannon was dining at his house, saying: “I can tell you as an insider, Bannon is a great friend of Israel and the Jewish people.” Dershowitz defended Bannon, noting that there isn’t any evidence of anti-Semitism. Talk-show host Dennis Prager, who authored books about anti-Semitism, said: “Calling Steve Bannon an anti-Semite is a witch hunt. . . . It’s just a libel. It’s fabricated.” The liberal Anti-Defamation League wrote: “we’re not aware of any anti-Semitic statements from Bannon.”
On “60 Minutes,” Bannon declared: “neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates and the Klan are absolutely awful, there is no room in American politics or American society for that.” Bannon also wrote he has “zero tolerance” for anti-Semitism. Further, Bannon clarified that when he stated Breitbart is the “platform for the Alt-right,” he merely meant “the anti-establishment.”
Bannon’s Breitbart site exposes campus anti-Semitism. Bannon even had his reporters call college officials to ask what they are going to do about this. Bannon’s website also wrote about the pain suffered by a Jewish student upon finding a swastika scrawled on her dorm-room door.
No wonder the huge mostly Jewish crowd at the ZOA Gala gave Steve Bannon a standing ovation.
Morton A. Klein
National President, Zionist Organization of America