(June 22, 2020 / JNS) When I was a young, inexperienced, neophyte medical student, I never would have shown up at Grand Rounds and told the professors, some of the world’s finest in their fields: “This is what’s wrong with this, you guys, and this is what you should do.”
Well, I, for one, am sick and tired of being lectured to by another “woke child” of the progressive left.
It’s customary to have some knowledge of what you are talking about before making pronouncements about others and calling for radical actions. Clearly, Mr. Abe Silberstein, writing on June 8 in The Forward, displays no such knowledge. He engaged in a venomous ad hominem attack on Morton Klein, national president of the Zionist Organization of America, calling him “racist, Islamaphobic and anti-Semitic,” demanding his ouster from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, thereby defiling the ZOA and even its venerable past president, Justice Louis Brandeis.
As has oft been said, you have a right to your own opinions, but not to your own facts.
So let’s have a few FACTS:
Fact: Silberstein clearly misrepresents Brandeis and the ZOA. As is typical of progressives, Brandeis is judged by the standards of “today,” where even being a “liberal moderate” is not sufficient, instead of the standards of the age in which he lived. To denigrate this great American, great Jew and great Zionist is a cheap shot and just plain untrue unless you live in the moral relativistic world of the young “progressive.” Furthermore, ZOA wasn’t “included” in the Conference of Presidents; it was a founding charter member.
Fact: Silberstein maligns Klein, who almost single-handedly in 1994 resurrected the ZOA, which had fallen on hard times, and made it a proud Zionist and Jewish voice to be applauded by its friends and reckoned with by its enemies. He labels Klein’s “Twitter presence” as “racist, Islamaphobic and flirtatious with a strand of anti-Semitism popular on the far right.”
Racist? Because he rightly calls out Black Lives Matter (BLM)? BLM promotes an anti-Semitic ideology. It was formed in 2014 by acolytes of the virulently anti-Semitic Nation of Islam, Black Panthers and other groups. Their platform, which was on their website in 2016 but now transferred to another site, accuses Israel of committing genocide and refers to the country as an “apartheid state.” Like the supremacist anti-Semitic far-right that it mirrors, it accuses Israel and its supporters of pushing the United States into wars in the Middle East. It joins proudly with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel BDS campaign to boycott, divest and sanction Israel. In fact, the co-founder of BDS, Omar Barghouti, acknowledged openly that “the goal of BDS is to destroy Israel.” So if a proud Zionist opposes such a group, then he’s a racist?
It is interesting that BLM’s anti-Semitism was clear to all mainstream Jewish groups—not just the ZOA—in 2014 and 2016. Now suddenly, those ideologies, which they have not disavowed, are no longer relevant, and we must blindly accept—no, are required to accept—or else we are racist?
This doesn’t bother Silberstein? Even if you acknowledge the horrific murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, and truly hurt for him and his family, if you don’t accept BLM with all its hateful ideology, then you’re racist? If you don’t agree with BLM that the police should be defunded or abolished (something 65 percent of the American population doesn’t agree with, including former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden), then you’re a racist?!
Islamophobic? If you criticize Rep. llhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who have made clear and unequivocal anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements (Omar: Anti-Semitic trope, “it’s all about the Benjamin’s “; Tlaib: Map of “Palestine“ in her office has no place for Israel; she feels a “calm” when she thinks about the Holocaust and completely ignores the Mufti’s alliance with Hitler and whipping up Palestinian Arabs to engage in murderous rampages against Jews, while she conjures up a fictional tale of righteous Palestinians saving Jews), that’s Islamophobic?
Anti-Semitic? Mort Klein, the child of Holocaust survivors, born in a displaced persons camp who has given of every fiber in his soul and being to fight for Jews everywhere in the United States and on college campuses; in Washington, D.C., and in Israel, for the state, the nation and the people of Israel; and who also is an observant Jew, he is an anti-Semite? That is laughable on its face; even his greatest enemies, don’t buy that malarkey!
Now let’s get to the matter at hand, which Silberstein seems to skirt, preferring to focus on the incendiary issue of the moment: BLM. Silberstein wants Klein “kicked out of the Conference of Presidents because … ? Because he opposes the election of Dianne Lob, former chair of HIAS.
This is an organization once founded on helping Jewish refugees and now no longer does so, having taken the Hebrew out of its name and having instead associated with a variety of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel groups like CAIR (unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land terror trial) and assorted Israel-haters like activist Linda Sarsour and others. Look, HIAS can do what it wants, but it’s clearly no longer a Jewish organization, now helping predominately Syrian and other Muslim, not Jewish refugees, most of whom have been confirmed in an ADL study as having strong anti-Semitic beliefs. An organization that has pointedly taken on as an enemy the most pro-Israel president in American history, Donald Trump, and continues to associate with anti- Israel and anti-Semitic individuals. Is that the best representative as chairman of the Conference of Presidents?
I find it interesting that every tweet that Silberstein quotes to label Klein as a bigot and a racist is completely and factually accurate. I challenge Silberstein to prove otherwise. In fact, read each one; they undermine Silberstein’s argument (and I use the term loosely). The reason people on the left hate Mort Klein is because he is always factual, he always tells the truth, often to his own detriment. He is data-driven—a courageous truth-teller—and this drives the falsifiers of the left crazy.
For you, Mr. Silberstein, who self-describes as “a writer and an incoming UJA Federation Graduate Fellow for 2020-21,” a little education, knowledge of basic facts, and a large dose of humility is in order before you start attacking a giant of the Jewish world.
Dr. Alan A. Mazurek is a former chairman of the board of the Zionist Organization of America.
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