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1,100 People Attend ZOA Dinner

New York–A record crowd of over 1,100 people attended the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) 116th Louis B. Brandeis Award National Dinner on Sunday, November 23 at New York City’s Grand Hyatt Hotel. Major ZOA donors provided tables for 261 student activists from various universities around the country.

Rising Republican star Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), renowned Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, legendary founder of Christians United for Israel (CUFI) Pastor John Hagee, global philanthropists/humanitarians Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson, and businessman Michael Leven all spoke, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the crowd by video. Sheldon and Miriam Adelson presented the Adelson Defender of Israel Award to Pastor John Hagee. Senator Cruz received the Dr. Bob Shillman Award for Outstanding Pro-Israel legislator; Professor Dershowitz received the Mort Zuckerman Award for Outstanding Pro-Israel Journalism; and Michael Leven, president of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, received the Louis D. Brandeis Award. Bernie Marcus, an extraordinary businessman and founder of the national retail chain Home Depot, and a major supporter of Israel who was inducted into the US Business Hall of Fame in 2006, was the Dinner emcee. Also attending the Dinner were Fox News television host Judge Jeannine Pirro; Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN); former presidential candidate Gary Bauer; Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes; along with renowned businessmen and Jewish leaders Ken Bialkin, David Brog, Martin Gross, Jack Halpern, Irwin Hochberg, Ira Rennert, Richard Stone, Jim Tisch, and Rabbi Avi Weiss.

Dr. Bob Shillman, Founder and Chairman of Cognex Corporation, the world’s leading supplier of machine vision systems, introduced ZOA National President Mort Klein, observing how Mort was an irrepressible fighter for Israel’s right to exist in peace and security.

David Kadosh, Managing Director of ZOA’s Campus Activism Network, made possible by the generous donation from Myron Zimmerman, the San Francisco-based real estate magnate, pro-Israel philanthropist, leader of Birthright, officer of several Jewish Federations, and former Louis D. Brandeis Dinner Awardee.

Louis D. Brandeis Award recipient Michael Leven, in a self-effacing speech, chose not to speak of himself but rather of Justice Louis Brandeis, after whom the award is named. Mr. Leven noted the powerful and compelling views on Zionism that Brandeis espoused in his lifetime, regarding how a commitment to Jewish national independence by American Jewish citizens made them better, rather than weaker US citizens, just as individuals loyally devoted to their family, careers, district, and state also made for stronger American citizens. Brandeis always maintained that such multiple loyalties should not be a source of suspicion but, to the contrary, should be mutually reinforcing, provided they were not in conflict. “Zionism enlarged, rather than reduced, human freedom,” he shared.

Bernie Marcus followed Mr. Leven’s remarks, calling him “a real mensch” before calling upon “another real mensch”–Harvard University Law Professor, world-famous attorney, and defender of Israel Alan Dershowitz, who opened with the exclamation, “Wow, what a gathering! I’m here as a liberal, Democrat, and Zionist.” Dershowitz, who later introduced his former Harvard student Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) spoke of the under-girding principle he followed in advocating for Israel, which was to focus unrelentingly, not on what might divide Zionists of different stripes, but on what united Zionists across the board, of unity and bipartisanship–for example, the vital Zionist position that Iran must not be permitted to become either a nuclear power or a nuclear threshold state.

Mort Klein introduced global philanthropists Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson, paying particular tribute to Miri Adelson’s work with drug addiction and Holocaust issues. Dr. Adelson, for her part, spoke of the indelible impression Pastor John Hagee left upon her at their first meeting.

Pastor John Hagee, pastor of the mega-church Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, which has 20,000 active members, and President and CEO of John Hagee Ministries, which telecasts his national radio and television ministry, received the Adelson Defender of Israel Award. He spoke of CUFI, which is now 33 years old and at 2 million members, the strongest and most powerful pro-Israel organization, now in the process of radically increasing its presence in Washington, DC. CUFI, he said, is also expanding its efforts to Britain because, “We must win this fight. At CUFI, we don’t bark, we bite. Whenever we don’t like what a legislator says or does, 1.8 million members can send a deluge of emails and letters to get our view across where it matters.”

Widely known Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, named as one of the top ten influential Rabbis in America by Newsweek magazine, delivered the D’var Torah for the night.

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