Gala Draws Political and Media Heavyweights, 800 Zionists

Congresswomen Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Michele Bachmann among an all-star cast voicing support for Israel at ZOA dinner.

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Click photo to download. Caption: From left to right, Zionist Organization of America President Mort Klein, Republican presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, and star broadcaster Glenn Beck at Sunday night's ZOA gala in New York City. Credit: Jacob Kamaras.

NEW YORK—What does it mean to be a Zionist in the 21st century?

To tell the truth about the Arab-Israeli conflict, while summoning the courage to do so as part of an alarmingly small group, according to Morton Klein.

“A true Zionist of the 21st century is someone who tells the truth of the ongoing Arab War against the Jewish state of Israel,” Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), told JointMedia News Service at the group’s Justice Louis D. Brandeis Award Dinner on Sunday in New York City. “Not simply talking about a Palestinian state when in fact this will be a Fatah-Hamas state; somebody who tells the truth that the Palestinian Authority permits hatred and violence in their media, their schools, their speeches, their sermons. “

“But we have very few Zionists,” Klein continued. “We have very few Zionists even in Israel, because no one is telling the truth of this Arab war against Israel.”

An enthusiastic crowd of nearly 800 Zionists—796, to be exact—attended Sunday’s gala, among them star broadcaster Glenn Beck (recipient of the Dr. Miriam & Sheldon Adelson Defender of Israel Award) and a congressional delegation highlighted by Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (recipient of the Cherna and Dr. Irving Moskowitz Award) and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

Ros-Lehtinen, head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has committed much of her energy to holding the United Nations accountable amid the ongoing Palestinian statehood bid, introduced legislation to cut off U.S. funding for any U.N. organization that supports an upgrade in the Palestinians’ status—which most recently came into play with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Click photo to download. Caption: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida mingles with attendees at Sunday night's Zionist Organization of America gala in New York City. Credit: Jacob Kamaras.

Regarding a release of $200 million in originally frozen U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority earlier this month, Ros-Lehtinen said that she was the “last holdout” in Congress and “held on to [the frozen funds] as long as I could,” but that “the Israeli government believed that it was in their best interest for security reasons to have those funds released, as did many pro-Israel activists.”

“It was a difficult decision, but not all of the money has been released,” Ros-Lehtinen told JointMedia News Service, citing some economic assistance that is still being withheld.

In her address to the crowd, Ros-Lehtinen took pride in the fact that her name was on a picket sign outside the Grand Hyatt hotel. She exclaimed, “Yes! I finally made it.”

Reacting to the Nov. 8 International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report—which confirmed that Iran has been secretly developing its nuclear program since 2003—Ros-Lehtinen whispered into the microphone “What a surprise!” The IAEA Board of Governors, she said, passed a “toothless resolution” with no deadlines or consequences for Iran—just rhetoric.

Mocking those concerned with the cutting of funding to UNESCO, Ros-Lehtinen said “Oh, UNESCO, what about the children?”

“We’ve got to take off our rose-colored glasses,” she said.

Rep. Bachmann told the crowd that when Israel looks at the White House today, it “does not see a friend.” President Obama has been “ambiguous” with Iran and has given the country the “luxury of time” in developing its nuclear program, she said. 

The Minnesota legislator added that if she were elected president, “Jerusalem will never be divided.”

“Not one inch of Israel will ever be on the chopping block,” she said.

Also on hand from Congress was New York Republican Bob Turner, who won a special election in September to replace the disgraced Anthony Weiner and is the first Republican to represent his Brooklyn/Queens district since 1923. Turner said in an interview that this next year “is going to be extremely important in seeing how the Muslim Brotherhood moves and how this so-called Arab Spring develops.”

“We need a stronger leadership in Washington,” Turner told JointMedia News Service. “Israel isn’t simply a friend and a fellow democracy, they are a strategic military partnership central to world peace in the Middle East.”

Turner said recent anti-Semitism in the Brooklyn portion of his district—including the torching of three cars and painted swastikas—“serves as a reminder that hatred still exists and it’s strong, and it’s right here in our midst, so we need a united front, we need to be aware of it, and we need to fight it at every level.”

ZOA's Klein stressed that Israel will survive and thrive even without achieving peace with the Arabs, as it has since 1948. Holding up a map of the Middle East—with Israel, one eighth of one percent of the region, in blue, and 23 Arab countries in orange—he asked “Who are they (the U.S. administration) asking to give up the land?”

Klein methodically reviewed a slew of statistics to back his case, including a poll in which 73 percent of Arabs said they support the murder of every Jew.  The Hamas charter, which also calls for the murder of every Jew, is a “Nazi document,” he said.

In his interview with JointMedia News Service, Klein also focused on the numbers—citing Pew Research Center studies that revealed how 95-97 percent of Arabs in all Arab countries admit they hate Jews. Even 50 or 60 percent would be a nightmare, he said.

“No one understands that and knows that,” Klein said.

Jacob Kamaras is the Editor-in-Chief of JNS.

Posted on November 21, 2011 and filed under U.S..