Letters for 7-18-2013

3

Return of vigilantes

After a year’s respite the vigilantes of 2011 are back. In an ad (WJW, July 4, p33), something called “Citizens Opposed to Propaganda Masquerading as Art (COPMA)” condemns our local Federation for its annual allocation to the Washington DC Jewish Community Center because in 2014, the center’s Theater J plans to produce a play called The Admission, which COPMA claims “defames Israel.”


In contrast to two years ago, this time these protectors aren’t even waiting until the play is actually presented but are rather attacking its production a year in advance, as well as its Israeli author, whom they don’t even identify by name. The message is clear: Not only should Federation not indirectly support Theater J, but none of us should plan to attend the play and decide its merits for ourselves.

From both a personal and a communal standpoint, I resent being told by self-appointed censors what I can see or read. I would feel that way even about a speech or an article, but this case is worse, as it involves the art of drama, which is intended to stimulate thoughts and feelings. Wasn’t the establishment of the Jewish state supposed to enhance our security and reduce our fears about what others might say about us?

https://www.washingtonjewishweek.com/enewsletter/

If these monitors don’t want to join us at Theater J, I would urge them to proceed South to the Tidal Basin, where they might contemplate the words of Thomas Jefferson: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

DANIEL MANN, Bethesda


Committed to Israel

Let me respond to Steve Weissman’s letter (“Slap in the face,” WJW, June 27) criticizing the ZOA for comparing Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) to Queen Esther. I currently serve on a number of boards and hold leadership positions with many pro-Israel organizations. I am also privileged to have voluntarily served Bachmann as both her finance chairman and campaign chairman in each of her last two campaigns. I have been politically involved for many years because there is simply no one in Washington more knowledgeable or passionately committed to protecting the safety and security of the state of Israel and the Jewish people. Often, despite negative political ramifications, she has courageously publicly criticized those when their actions and rhetoric towards Israel were anything less than totally supportive.

Mr. Weissman may disagree with her on other issues, but regarding her unrivaled support for Israel and the Jewish people, he is either extremely naive or grossly misinformed. I am confident Queen Esther would be proud and honored to be compared with Bachmann. And, she would certainly expect an apology to Mort Klein and the ZOA, a respected pro-Israel advocate of unquestionable character, who has admirably served for decades as executive director of the oldest and certainly one of the most important pro-Israel organizations in America.

JAMES L. POLLACK, Chicago

Like Queen Esther

Steve Weissman viciously attacked me, the Zionist Organization of America and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) for my introduction of this extraordinarily pro-Israel congresswoman as the Queen Esther of Congress at ZOA’s congressional luncheon, preceding our annual Israel Advocacy Day (“Slap in the Face, WJW, June 27).

But just like the beautiful Queen Esther, the beautiful Rep. Bachmann has done everything in her power to advance and protect Jewish interests. There is no one in Washington with greater passion, concern and commitment to the Jewish state’s safety, security and survival.

This core conviction dates back to her first trip to Israel to work on a kibbutz the day she graduated from high school in 1974. She has traveled to Israel numerous times, and makes time in her schedule to meet Israeli officials whenever they come to Washington. She is arguably the fiercest opponent of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, has criticized presidential appointees she fears could be detrimental to Israel and has repeatedly condemned radical Muslim groups for their anti-Semitism. She has even been challenged for publicly criticizing U.S. Mideast policy, when she believes it endangers the Jewish state.

Bachmann has been the keynote speaker for numerous pro-Israel groups. And even though she’s a Christian, she has even spent Yom Kippur praying in synagogue, as well as having celebrated other Jewish holidays. No wonder she has been profusely praised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, Israeli U.N. Ambassador Ron Proser and former head of IDF intelligence, Gen. Amos Yadlin.

No Mr. Weissman, ZOA shouldn’t be apologizing for praising  Rep. Michele Bachmann, you should be apologizing for your insulting and mean-spirited attack .

MORTON KLEIN, President, ZOA

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3 COMMENTS

  1. James Pollack contends that Mort Klein is “a respected pro-Israel advocate of unquestionable character…”

    Not quite. Not when you engage in vicious lashon-hara and deliberately turn a blind eye to trivialization of the Holocaust.

    1. According to the Washington Post, Mr. Klein has characterized a remark of US Ambassador-designate to the UN Samantha Power as “borderline anti-Semitic.” Ms. Power is the wife of Harvard Law Professor Cass Sunstein, who is not only Jewish, but a descendant of Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman Kremer, the one and only Vilna Gaon. (By way of contrast, Klein’s religious lineage is wholly sectarian. Yichus envy, anyone?)

    2. At the ZOA’s last annual dinner in 2011, it feted Glenn Beck (so much for ZOA’s ‘centrism’). From the JTA’s coverage of that event: “Asked about the discomfort some feel with Beck’s repeated use of Holocaust analogies, ZOA president Mort Klein, a child of survivors who was born in a German displaced persons camp, claimed ignorance, saying he didn’t watch Beck’s show often enough to have an opinion…”

    Let’s get this straight: Mr. Klein is familiar enough with Beck- i.e., he watches his show enough- to feel comfortable having the ZOA honor Beck, but not enough to comment upon Beck’s fixation with Holocaust comparisons (an obsesison which is tantamount to Holocaust trivialization) ? This is not the least bit credible.

    Of course, if the shoe were on the other foot, and it was a TV liberal who was invoking the Holocaust at the drop of a hat, Mr. Klein would quickly exercise “due diligence” in watching the program for himself and then spare no effort in excoriating that person!

    Anyway, all of this goes way beyond mere ‘spin’. Clearly, nowadays it has reached the point that, for Mr. Klein and the ZOA, even the Holocaust has become just another political bargaining chip. What a shande!

  2. In his July 18 letter, James Pollack contends that Mort Klein …” has admirably served for decades as executive director of the oldest and certainly one of the most important pro-Israel organizations in America.”
    As Washingtonian Warner Wolf might say, let’s go to the videotape.
    First of all, Mr. Klein’s position is not that of executive director, but national president. Like his boss Rep. Bachmann, Mr. Pollack seems to have difficulty in getting his facts straight (see “Slap in the Face” 27 June letter).
    The reason that Mr. Klein has served “for decades” is that after taking control of the ZOA via a ballot-stuffing coup, he proceeded to upend the organization’s charter’s two-term limit for the presidency, effectively, making him president-for-life. He has subsequently transformed that venerable and distinguished organization into what has amounted to a personality cult, brooking no dissent.
    Think about it: Iran’s last presidential election – in which numerous candidates ran, with the surprise winner being the so-called “moderate”- was more genuinely democratic than any of those held by the ZOA since Klein took over 20 years ago.
    For heaven’s sake: unlike Klein, even Yasser ‘Arafat had other candidates to run against in his last campaign to head up the Palestinian Authority! And ‘Arafat, for all his gehennom-worthy myriad of sins, at least treated his employees fairly- which, as reported by FORWARD- has not always been the case with the ZOA under Klein.
    Remember, we are talking Jews here: you know, three people, five different opinions- except NEVER in the ZOA.

  3. Mr. Pollack lauds Morton Klein’s “unquestionable character.” Really?
    The facts suggest otherwise.
    In reality-based circles, Mort Klein’s name is mud, and has been for decades, since his ballot-stuffing coup ousting Jim Schiller as ZOA president. Once he assumed that office, Klein then sidestepped the ZOA bylaws’ term-limits for that position, setting himself up- a la Arab dictators! – as national President for life. There he cultivated an almost cult-like following, highlighted by intolerance of dissent from his policies- or, as the November WJW “Million-Dollar Question” editorial more politely phrased it, “Klein and the ZOA are one and the same.” That cult-like dominating influence explains his excessive compensation (allegedly underwritten by Sheldon Adelson!) as “the highest paid Jewish professional in North America” (again, quoting the WJW editorial).
    As a blog poster once famously put it, “Mort Klein could give management tips on command-and control-techniques to (the late North Korean dictator) Kim Jong Il.”

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