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ZOA’s Morton Klein Coming to Ahavath Torah March 8th

Engelwood—Morton Klein, Executive Director of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), will be speaking on “Israel in the Crosshairs: A Zionist Response” at Englewood’s Congregation Ahavath Torah on Sunday, March 8th. The ZOA has been called “one of the most important and influential Jewish groups in the U.S. today” by the Jerusalem Post and “the most credible advocate for Israel on the American Jewish scene today” by The Wall Street Journal. The son of Holocaust survivors who started life in a Displaced Persons camp, Klein was a biostatistician for Linus Pauling and a government economist before entering Jewish communal life as a lay leader and was soon elected ZOA’s National President, a role he continues to serve in today. Despite the challenge of Tourette’s syndrome, he is a forceful speaker and advocate for Israel.

In a phone conversation with JLNJ, Klein said the mission of the ZOA is to fight for Israel’s survival and security – and truth is Israel’s best defense. “It is a breathtaking lie that Jerusalem is holy to Moslems,” he said. “If Israel was occupying Mecca or Medina, we would have to discuss that. The holiness of Jerusalem to Moslems is one of the great propaganda lies of our time.” Calling settlements illegal… the portrayal Mohammad Abbas as a peace seeker…branding Israel as an Apartheid state…all of it not true, Klein said, and reminiscent of the character in George Orwell’s Animal Farm who ‘could turn black into white.’

Klein said there are three main reasons most heads of state are not solidly behind Israel. “The principal reason is enmity against Jews and the Jewish state, old fashioned antisemitism. The second reason is fear of Islamic terrorism, that if you take a pro-Israel position you can be threatened or hurt. Third, people believe if you resolve these issues it will bring peace, which is not true.”

The bigger question, Klein asks, is “Why don’t Israeli and Jewish leaders tell the truth? Why did Abraham Foxman (head of the Anti-Defamation League) condemn Bibi Netanyahu?”

Most Jews are liberal, Klein said, and they believe that if you understand a problem, you can solve it. And that’s the wrong attitude here. “This is a religious war that is now fueled by antisemitism. Even if the Jews agreed to be dhimmis, (second class citizens, as they once were in Islamic lands), they would still be subject to taxes and pogroms.”

The prevailing world view is that there is a specific basis for the stalemate between the Arabs and Israel—the Palestinians don’t have a state, occupation of territory, the status of Jerusalem – and if you solve these problems things will be fine. “It’s a delicious idea, that these problems are solvable but it’s false. The Arabs were offered a state in 2000 and 2008, as they were in ’48. They won’t accept Israel.”

Klein said he talks to a wide swath of Jewish groups, including Conservative and Reform. “It’s important for Jews to learn facts to use in their discussions. I want to give ammunition to those in the rational center,” meaning people who look at facts and do not make decisions based on a right or left wing ideology.

Teaching students how to combat anti-Israel forces on campus is a primary ZOA activity. Klein said, “The anti-Israel voices on campus are well funded by various groups and maybe even countries. Jewish kids on campus don’t know the truth and don’t know what to say to fight the lies. We’re bringing kids to Israel, and having events for students with speakers who train them.”

Morton Klein’s appearance at Ahavath Torah is being coordinated by the adult education committee with Laura Fein, Executive Director of ZOA- New Jersey, and a dynamic speaker and writer herself. A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard, where she wrote a thesis on Jewish organizations, and Columbia Law School, Fein worked at Skadden, Arps in New York and Washington DC, and later at other law firms, until moving with her family to Teaneck in 2007. She joined ZOA in November, 2013 and coordinates activities statewide, including speakers and films, training for students, cocktail parties to introduce young men and women to ZOA, and speaking engagements with other ZOA executives including Susan Tuchman, Esq., Director of the ZOA Center for Law and Justice.

“The conversation people have about Israel is dominated by the false notion that the Palestinians want peace with Israel, and that peace depends on Israel’s actions. We are trying to change the conversation. We are committed to exposing the lies about Israel and having a conversation based on truth,” Fein said in an interview with JLNJ. “This community is fortunate to have the opportunity to hear Mort Klein speak. Those who agree with him will be inspired and energized and it will affirm that they are not alone. Those who disagree should come and hear what he says, challenge him directly, and see if his response changes their view.”

By Bracha Schwartz

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