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The Forward’s Opinion Editor Misunderstood The ZOA Gala

Dear Editor,

Forward opinion editor Batya Ungar-Sargon’s op-ed about the Zionist Organization of America’s November 10, 2017 annual gala engages in the same unsubstantiated smears against Steve Bannon and Dr. Sebastian Gorka that the Forward has previously engaged in, and that were repeatedly shown to be false. The Forward editor compounded this by disparaging the ZOA dinner crowd for cheering these friends of the Jewish people, and by upbraiding former Senator and Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman for taking a picture with Steve Bannon at ZOA’s Gala. Ambassador Ron Dermer himself told me Bannon is a great friend of Israel. When Bannon talked about the “alt-right”, he meant the anti-establishment, not racists. Would Dershowitz and Lieberman and I, a child of Holocaust survivors, sit at a dais honoring an anti Semitic Israel hater? Why does Bannon have me writing for Breitbart if he hates Jews? And Gorka, who was only an attendee, has always asked me how he can help Israel to honor his father who helped Jews during the Holocaust.

The Forward’s op-ed also wrongly portrayed an obscenity-spewing protester outside the ZOA Gala as nobly “giving up his Sunday night to protest ZOA” and misleadingly claimed that the protestors represent the “future of American Jewry.” The protest was a minor blip in comparison to the enthusiastic sold out 1200-strong crowd who happily spent their Sunday night at the ZOA gala – including hundreds of students and young professionals – and the many others who wanted to attend.

The future doesn’t belong to radical, expletive-spouting groups such as the “IfNotNow” protesters who oppose the right of the Jewish people to live in the eternal Jewish homelands of the Old City of Jerusalem (where our holiest sites are) and Judea/Samaria, and who falsely smear the Jewish people’s friends.

The Jewish future belongs to the brave Jews of Israel, who dare to lead satisfying Jewish lives in the face of the sea of racist enemies surrounding them, and to the hundreds of beautiful young people who attended – or sought to attend – ZOA’s Gala and who know the difference between friend and foe, and between the truth and propaganda.

We would also not be surprised if the small number of protesters outside the ZOA Gala included radical Islamists. IfNotNow’s twitter feed admitted that two out of the six protestors at IfNotNow’s protest at Ambassador Friedman’s confirmation hearing were Muslims; the linked article indicates that they were staffers of the radical group American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). Congressional testimony last year, by a former U.S. Treasury official, revealed that AMP is led by at least seven officials of American “charities” that were implicated in funneling money to Hamas.

Ms. Ungar-Sargon’s op-ed also complained that Professor Alan Dershowitz told Ms. Ungar-Sargon during ZOA’s Gala that the Forward is a dangerous force because it “turns Jews against Jewish values, against the State of Israel.” Ms. Ungar-Sargon’s op-ed sadly proved the truth of Professor Dershowitz’s words.

As Carolyn Glick stated during the May 2017 Jerusalem Post conference, while praising me (Morton Klein) for debunking the hateful smears against Dr. Gorka – a man who has consistently stood up for Jews and Israel (and the same is true of Bannon):

“The other day I went onto the Forward’s web page. I think they [The Forward] have published something like 39 articles against him [Dr. Gorka] in the past several weeks. [audience boos] They [The Forward] is raising money on their campaign against him, saying: ‘The New Yorker says that The Forward is leading the campaign against Sebastian Gorka. Please send ten dollars.’ This is simply an outrage… . And it’s lashon hara [evil speech, forbidden by the Jewish law]. It’s an embarrassment. It’s demoralizing. It’s demoralizing to Israel’s friends … when … members of the Jewish community have taken it upon themselves to demonize one of Israel’s best friends in Washington today… . Stand up for your friend. Stand up for our friend. Don’t allow people slander a good and honorable man, as a Nazi.”

Let’s hope that the Forward starts to heed those words.

Sincerely,

Morton Klein, President of the ZOA

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