Over 900 people attended the Zionist Organization of America’s 115th Louis B. Brandeis Award National Dinner on Sunday, November 24 at the New York City’s elegant Grand Hyatt Hotel. Former Republican presidential candidate and Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann (R–MN), global philanthropists/humanitarians Sheldon Adelson and Dr. Miriam Adelson, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed their support at the event.
In his video address to the dinner guests, Prime Minister Netanyahu lauded the ZOA for being “clear, consistent, and courageous” in defending the righteous cause of Israel, fighting for the truth, and working to advance the cause of Israel with the government, the media, and the American public. The prime minister said, “Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are the greatest Zionists in the world. They don’t only talk, they do, and if the Adelsons put their names to an award, it really means something . . . The ZOA is indefatigable. Go from strength to strength, you deserve it . . . I’d like to thank Mort Klein for his strength of character and striving for truth. Thank you very much.”
Mr. Michael Orbach, former ZOA National Chairman of the Board, presented the Cherna and Irving Moskowitz Award to Mr. Tyler Korn, principal of the Korn Legal Group in Naples, Florida, formerly with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison of New York City.
Dr. Anne Bayefsky, director of the Institute for Human Rights and the Holocaust at Touro College Law School and former professor of law at Columbia University, received the Ben Hecht Award for Outstanding Journalism. She praised the ZOA for having “an exceptional and resolute president, Mort Klein.” Professor Bayefsky recalled how her father had been among the allied troops who entered the ghastly Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen, before returning to the theme of human rights. “For three decades, I have been following developments at the UN. There seems to be human rights on offer to everyone except Israelis. Colleagues vanish when it comes to opposing anti-Semitism. Israel is portrayed within the UN as a perpetual villain while Palestinians are portrayed as perpetual victims. Yet it is Israel that uses cement to build hospitals while Palestinians use cement to build arms smuggling tunnels . . .”
ZOA Board Member and President of NORPAC Dr. Ben Chouake introduced National President Morton Klein, speaking of his “vision, the eternal optimism that carries him. Mort meets with dozens of governors, senators, congressmen—he has always impressed them with his passion and knowledge. He is a force of nature. Give thanks that he’s on our side.” Klein spoke of the tendency in international affairs to seek appeasement, noting how everyone was ignoring the horrific, obscene speech of the week before by the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who spoke of Israel as a “rabid dog” and the U.S. as “an enemy who smiles,” while Iranian mobs chanted “Death to America” and while Iranian statements included asserting that Israel’s destruction has jurisprudential ground. “Yet the world calls this regime ‘moderates,’ whose new president, Hassan Rouhani, was involved in the Iranian terrorist attacks on Jews in Argentina, the Khobar Towers attack on U.S. servicemen, and has bragged about his record of deceiving international negotiators over Iran’s illegal nuclear weapons program.”
Klein also noted that various sources, including anti-Israel lobbyist James Zogby, have been compelled to take notice and acknowledge the ZOA’s successes, with Zogby even writing about “‘a muscular and increasingly vocal ZOA. If we don’t stop them they’ll win,’ to which we say, ‘Yes, Mr. Zogby, we will win.’” Klein noted also that U.S. intelligence experts believe that Iran will have intercontinental ballistic missile capacity with the range to strike America by 2015. He also observed that an Iranian nuclear bomb would mean that much of the Middle East—including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Turkey—would probably go nuclear as well.
The deal just concluded in Geneva leaves untouched all the essential elements of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It can continue construction of its Arak plutonium reactor—suspending, but not terminating, heavy water-related projects—without being required to dismantle the site; it can keep all its centrifuges; it can continue to enrich uranium to 5% enrichment for the next six months—enough, given Iran’s recent, huge expansion to more than 18,000 centrifuges, to become a “break-out” nuclear state at a time of its choosing; and it can maintain without any limitations its UN Security Council-prohibited intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program, which already enables Iran to strike Israel and Europe and, within a few years, to strike the U.S. as well.
Following Klein’s address, Mr. Ken Bialkin, former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, introduced Susan Tuchman, director of ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, who spoke of the ZOA’s pioneering fight to defend Jewish students on American campuses from harassment and intimidation.
ZOA Campus Director Sharona Whisler presented the ZOA’s award for the best essay on Zionism to David Cohen, a student at Columbia University.
ZOA Board Member James Pollack introduced Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who opened by saying that she was “absolutely thunderstruck at the events in the world of the past few weeks and especially last night in Geneva, when the hinge of history turned. A spiritual darkness has descended on our world with this decision of the P5+1 and Iran, a decision with the import to change the world. Yet I think this agreement has more to do with Israel than with Iran. Israel may be forced now, when abandoned by the world, not to strike Iran even if Iran continues its march towards a nuclear bomb.
“I served on the House Intelligence Committee. There have been intelligence leaks regarding Israel’s preparation to deal with Iran in the event that it has to do so, leaks that Israel might be planning to strike in the next 2-4 months, Israel investigating the possible use of airbases in Azerbaijan. Many of the secrets coming up would be secrets known to only about ten people in the whole country. Every leak puts Israel in a more dangerous position than it has been in before.
“Meanwhile, Iran has obtained six months in which to continue its deceptions and preparations to become a nuclear power. Prime Minister Netanyahu will be forced to make a decision to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. One can’t believe the Iranian regime is serious about this agreement.”
Myron Zimmerman of San Francisco, real estate magnate and pro-Israel philanthropist, received the Louis D. Brandeis Award, previous recipients of which include Natan Sharansky, Simon Wiesenthal, Elizabeth Taylor, Dr. Miriam Adelson, Abba Eban, Justice Arthur Goldberg, Ronald Lauder, and Mortimer Zuckerman. Mort Klein, in presenting the award, enumerated the many extraordinary contributions Mr. Zimmerman has made to Jewish and Israeli causes over the years, noting that, “he cares about our people and our ancient homeland with all his heart and all his soul.” In accepting the award, Mr. Zimmerman said, “I only wish I had more money to give away for this cause.”
Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson presented the Adelson Defender of Israel Award to Governor Huckabee, host of the popular Huckabee show on Fox News. Introducing the Adelsons to present the Adelson Defender of Israel Award to Governor Huckabee, Mort Klein noted that the ZOA was honored to make this award in their names, and presented the Adelsons a beautiful, hand-carved Jerusalem-stone mezuzah for their new home in Las Vegas.
Governor Huckabee then addressed the crowd saying, “The Land of Israel was promised to the Jews by G-d. The division of Jerusalem is unimaginable. You don’t negotiate with those who don’t want you to exist. I support a Palestinian state—outside Israel.”
He continued, “The ZOA is the strongest Jewish voice for Israel on the face of the planet. Other Jewish organizations are sometimes afraid to ruffle feathers. Mort Klein and ZOA are prepared to pluck the chicken. It is time for the others get over their throat colds and speak out as well.”
Turning to the deal with Iran signed in Geneva, Governor Huckabee said, “This is the equivalent of giving them a shot of whisky, the keys to the sports car, and telling them to go out and impress their girl. Yet Secretary Kerry spoke—in fact, he is still talking—about what a good deal this is. This is the time that we need a Churchill and instead we have a Chamberlain. It is Israel that has a Churchill in Benjamin Netanyahu. It is also time that we took the jackhammer to the United Nations, disassemble it, and let it float out into the East River. The UN takes our money and insults us . . .
“Our relationship to Israel is not organizational, it’s organic. The greatest gift of G-d is to be free, and Israel is free and its borders are not set by the UN or the Balfour Declaration, but by G-d Almighty . . . Israel cannot talk peace to people who deny it the right to breathe. The U.S. should be saying, ‘You cannot attack Israel. An attack upon them is an attack upon us’ . . . Israel has been revived. The dry bones that Ezekiel saw have been revived, because G-d’s hand is upon her. Standing with Israel is standing with G-d’s Chosen. G-d has never abandoned Israel and he’s not about to start and I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history . . . Never, never, never, never again—that is the true basis for peace.”
ZOA publicly praised the president of Brandeis University, Frederick Lawrence, who attended the dinner with his wife, for suspending Brandeis University’s relationship with the anti-Semitic Al-Quds University.
Nationally known Rabbi Shmuley Boteach delivered the d’var Torah. The dinner co-chairs were Mr. James Tisch, CEO of Loews Corp. and a past chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Ken Bialkin, a senior partner at the law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and also a past chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Queens College’s award-winning Jewish a cappella singing group, Tizmoret, performed at the dinner, and a klezmer band performed at the reception. Dr. Alan Mazurek, Chairman of the ZOA’s National Advisory Council, presided over the occasion as Master of Ceremonies with his usual eloquence and humor.
The ZOA thanks Dr. Bob Shillman, Ira and Ingeborg Rennert, the Adelsons, Jim Tisch, and others for purchasing tables that enabled 200 university students to attend. The ZOA also wishes to thank Dr. Michael Goldblatt, National Chairman of the Board, and Mr. Irwin Hochberg, Vice-Chairman of the Board, for all their help and advice. v