by Isi Leibler
December 4, 2014
It has been reported that American Jews still voted overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party in the recent midterm congressional elections. At the same time, there is mounting evidence that increasing numbers of American Jews at the grassroots level have become disillusioned and in many cases outraged by the shabby manner in which the Obama administration has treated Israel over the past six months. This, despite the fact that the American Jewish leadership establishment, including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, had failed to criticize the biased and frequently hostile remarks against Israel personally expressed repeatedly by President Barack Obama.
Yet in contrast to the establishment, the Zionist Organization of America has emerged over the last year as the front-runner of American Jewish organizations, which consistently condemned the administration with respect to its Israel policies.
This has resulted in many rank-and-file American Jews, disappointed by the embarrassing silence of their leaders, no longer considering the ZOA to be a marginal or extremist group.
The credit for much of this lies with the organization’s indefatigable leader, Mort Klein, who succeeded in transforming what had become an almost bankrupt organization into a dynamic political machine. Klein was always nonplussed at being dismissed as an extremist and radical right-winger.
Today, his followers are comparing him to Hillel Kook and the Bergson Group, who in the 1940s orchestrated a public campaign to pressure the U.S. government to adopt action to save Jews being murdered during the Holocaust. Initially, he too was condemned by the Jewish establishment as an extremist. In what is now regarded as a permanent blemish on the reputation of the American Jewish leadership, Rabbi Stephen Wise, then head of the Jewish community, warned against antagonizing the Roosevelt administration and introduced the most extreme measures to try to muzzle Kook — even seeking to deport him.
The recent ZOA dinner, attended by over 1,100 people, reflects the growing influence of the organization. The keynote speakers included potential Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz, who had recently made an enormous impact on the Jewish community. In a widely reported address to a Christian group, despite prior knowledge that the audience contained hundreds of Hezbollah supporters, Cruz insisted that Israel was the only state in the Middle East that safeguarded its Christian population. When the audience heckled him, the senator responded, “If you will not stand with Israel, I will not stand with you,” and demonstrably stormed out of the meeting.
In his ZOA address, Cruz praised Klein, who suffers from Tourette syndrome, describing him as a man with “the heart of the lion and the voice of Moses.” He bitterly condemned the Obama administration’s policy toward Israel and pledged “not only to reimpose sanctions on Iran, but strengthen them” and insisted that unless Iran dismantled all 19,000 centrifuges and ceased being a promoter of terrorism, “we do not have a deal.”
An additional keynote address was provided by Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel, the most consistent enthusiastic evangelical supporter of Israel. …read more