Contact: David Drimer, 212-481-1500
NEW YORK, November 27 — Over 900 people attended the Zionist Organization of America’s (ZOA) 115th Louis B. Brandeis Award National Dinner on Sunday, November 24 at the New York City’s elegant Grand Hyatt Hotel. Former Republican presidential candidate and Arkansas Governor, Mike Huckabee, U.S. Representative Michele Bachmann (R-MN). Global philanthropists/humanitarians Sheldon Adelson and Dr. Miriam Adelson also spoke and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the crowd by video. Major ZOA donors provided tables for 200 thrilled students from various universities.
Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson presented the Adelson Defender of Israel Award to Governor Huckabee, host of the popular “Huckabee” on Fox.
Myron Zimmerman of San Francisco, real estate magnate and pro-Israel philanthropist, received the Louis D. Brandeis Award, previous recipients of which include Natan Sharansky, Simon Wiesenthal, Elizabeth Taylor, Dr. Miriam Adelson, Abba Eban, Justice Arthur Goldberg, Ronald Lauder, Mortimer Zuckerman and others.
Dr. Anne Bayefsky, Director of the Institute for Human Rights and the Holocaust at Touro College Law School and former professor of law at Columbia University, received the Ben Hecht Award for Outstanding Journalism, whose past recipients include A.M. Rosenthal, David Bar-Ilan, Cal Thomas, Daniel Pipes, Caroline Glick, Jeff Jacoby and William Kristol.
Mr. Michael Orbach, former ZOA National Chairman of the Board, presented the Cherna and Irving Moskowitz Award to Mr. Tyler Korn, principal of the Korn Legal Group in Naples, Florida, formerly with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison of New York City. Previous recipients of the Moskowitz Award have included Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), former Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, and French Senator Jean-Pierre Plancade.
In his video address to the Dinner guests, Prime Minister Netanyahu lauded the ZOA for being “clear, consistent and courageous” in defending the righteous cause of Israel, fighting for the truth and working to advance the cause of Israel with the government, media and the American public. The Prime Minister said, “Sheldon and Miriam Adelson are the greatest Zionists in the world. They don’t only talk, they do and if the Adelsons put their names to an award, it really means something … The ZOA is indefatigable. Go from strength to strength, you deserve it … I’d like to thank Mort Klein for his strength of character and striving for truth. Thank you very much.”
Professor Anne Bayefsky, who was honored with the ZOA’s Ben Hecht Award, spoke next, praising the ZOA for having “an exceptional and resolute president, Mort Klein.” Professor Bayefsky recalled how her father had been among the allied troops that had entered the ghastly Nazi concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen before returning to the theme of human rights. “For three decades, I have been following developments at the UN. There seems to be human rights on offer to everyone except Israelis. Colleagues vanish when it comes to opposing anti-Semitism. The line one gets is, ‘If only Israel would do this, if only Israel would do that, Israel would be OK.’ Israel is portrayed within the UN as a perpetual villain while Palestinians are portrayed as perpetual victims. Yet it is Israel that uses cement to build hospitals while Palestinians use cement to build arms smuggling tunnels … There have been 10 emergency sessions in the UN’s history, half of them devoted solely to Israel. In fact, since 1997, all of them have been on Israel. There is only one permanent agenda item – Israel. Only one country — Israel — is condemned annually for violating human rights.” Professor Bayefsky noted the absurdity of the operation of the UN system which permits Iran to sit on the General Assembly Committee for Disarmament and the Committee on the Status of Women and, in June, to chair the Conference on Disarmament. “Now, for the first time, Jews serving in an accredited NGO have been excluded because they support Israel. It’s an outrage. Why haven’t American leaders protested this degradation of values? The answer lies in misplaced trust, fear of loneliness, moral impoverishment and moral relativism.”
ZOA Board Member and President of Norpac Dr. Ben Chouake introduced National President Morton Klein, speaking of his “vision, the eternal optimism that carries him. Mort meets with dozens of governors, senators, congressmen — he has always impressed them with his passion and knowledge. He is a force of nature. Give thanks that he’s on our side.”
Mort Klein opened by saying he was “speaking tonight in the presence of the greatest Zionists in America, people like Governor Huckabee, Congresswoman Bachmann and the Adelsons.” Speaking of those gathered, Klein said, “Had you all existed in the 1930s, history would have been very different, especially Jewish history.” Turning to the issue of Iran, the deal between the P5+1 and Iran having been concluded only in the previous 24 hours, Klein spoke of the tendency in international affairs to seek appeasement, noting how everyone is ignoring the horrific, obscene speech in the past week by the Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who spoke of Israel as a ‘rabid dog’ and the U.S. as ‘an enemy who smiles,’ while Iranian mobs chanted ‘Death to America’ and while Iranian statements have included asserting that Israel’s destruction has jurisprudential ground. “Yet the world calls this regime ‘moderates,’ whose new president, Hasan Rouhani, was involved in the Iranian terrorist attacks on Jews in Argentina, the Khobar Towers attack on U.S. servicemen, and has bragged about his record of deceiving international negotiators over Iran’s illegal nuclear weapons program.”
Klein also noted that various sources, including the anti-Israel lobbyist James Zogby, have been compelled to take notice and acknowledge ZOA’s successes – Zogby even writing about “‘a muscular and increasingly vocal ZOA. If we don’t stop them they’ll win,’ to which we say, ‘Yes Mr. Zogby, we will win.’” Klein noted also that U.S. intelligence experts believe that Iran will have an intercontinental ballistic missile capacity with the range to strike America by 2015. He also observed that an Iranian nuclear bomb would mean that much of the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, would probably go nuclear as well. “This will make the Middle East a tinderbox, the most unstable imaginable. The Iranian terrorist regime must be stopped. It is a regime that hangs gays, oppresses women, sends its youth through minefields to clear the way for their forces, accuses the U.S. of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks and denies the Holocaust. They and their proxies have committed scores of terrorist attacks around the world, murdering thousands of people — and that’s what it does when it hasn’t got a nuclear bomb. How will it behave when it does have a nuclear bomb? It’s time we started talking about the danger of not stopping Iran militarily.”
Moving to President Obama’s response to this crisis, Klein said, “The President said that he will do ‘everything, everything to stop Iran, Period.’ He said you ‘could keep your health care if you liked it. Period’. His promise on Iran seems to as false as his promise on health care. He didn’t allow Congressman Howard Berman to bring a sanctions bill to the floor of the House for over a year. He appointed Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary, who previously had spent years advocating against economic sanctions and military action against Iran and in favor of containment when Iran goes nuclear. Secretary Clinton spoke openly about providing a missile shield for U.S. Arab allies if Iran becomes a nuclear power – all pointing to acceptance of a nuclear Iran, contrary to President Obama’s public reassurances on this point. And Israel has also been repeatedly pressured against undertaking military action against Iran. Vice-President Joseph Biden and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey both publicly warned Israel against attacking Iran, while President Obama’s friend and long-standing adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski publicly stated that, were Israel to launch a military attack on Iran, America should down Israel’s planes. With this record, the Obama Administration has sent the message that it is not going to act to stop Iran. As Frederick the Great once said, ‘Diplomacy without arms is like music without instruments.’ The deal just concluded in Geneva leaves untouched all the essential elements of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. It can continue construction of its Arak plutonium reactor, suspending, but not terminating, heavy water-related projects and not being required to dismantle the site; it can keep all its centrifuges — it doesn’t need to dismantle a single one; it can continue to enrich uranium to 5% enrichment for the next six months– enough, given Iran’s recent, hugely expanded number of centrifuges, now numbering over 18,000, to become a “break-out” nuclear state at a time of its choosing; and it can maintain without any limitations its UN Security Council-prohibited intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program, which already enables Iran to strike Israel and Europe and, within a few years, to strike the U.S. as well.
This whole agreement is an act of appeasement and, Dr. Donald Kagan, renowned Professor of Classics at Yale University, has written in his book, The Origins of War and the Preservation of Peace, having studied appeasement throughout history and concluded, ‘appeasement has always failed and ultimately led to violence and war.’
“We might sometimes ask,” Klein continued, “‘can it be that we are right and everyone else is wrong?’ The answer is yes, it can be true. When Israel bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981, the whole world condemned Israel — and now everyone knows it was the right thing to do. In the ancient world, we were derided by everyone for having a day of rest; people said we were lazy, but we were right. In the Middle Ages, people thought we killed gentile children to use their blood in matzah, only we knew otherwise, we were right. People believed we poisoned wells, we never did, they were wrong, we were right.”
Following Klein’s address, Mr. Ken Bialkin, former Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, introduced Susan Tuchman, Director of the ZOA’s Center for Law and Justice, who spoke of ZOA’s pioneering fight to defend Jewish students on American campuses from harassment and intimidation. She spoke of ZOA’s work with Jewish and pro-Israel students at Brooklyn College to address problems they have been facing on campus, including being ousted, without justification, from an anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions event co-sponsored by the College’s political science department, giving the event legitimacy it did not deserve. Other problems of bias in the College political science department are ongoing and ZOA is working with students to address all of these. Ms. Tuchman also spoke about problems for Jewish students at Northeastern University in Boston where, after a long struggle to have issues of anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation addressed, the University president has now stated that zero tolerance for anti-Semitism would be displayed on campus.
ZOA Campus Director Sharona Whisler presented ZOA’s award for the best essay on Zionism to David Cohen, a student at Columbia University.
ZOA Board Member James Pollack introduced Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, who said that, if either Mike Huckabee or Michele Bachmann been elected president, the security situation of Israel, the United States and the world would be very different today. No-one in Washington, he said, is more focused, more supportively intellectually or more knowledgeable about Israel than Michele Bachmann.
Michele Bachmann opened by saying that she was “absolutely thunderstruck at the events in the world of the past few weeks and especially last night in Geneva, when the hinge of history turned. A spiritual darkness has descended on our world with this decision of the P5+1and Iran, a decision with the import to change the world. Yet I think this agreement has more to do with Israel than with Iran. Israel may be forced now, when abandoned by the world, not to strike Iran even if Iran continues its march towards a nuclear bomb. I served on the House Intelligence Committee. There have been intelligence leaks regarding Israel’s preparation to deal with Iran in the event that it has to do so, leaks that Israel might be planning to strike in the next 2-4 months, Israel investigating the possible use of airbases in Azerbaijan. Many of the secrets coming up would be secrets known to only about ten people in the whole country. Every leak puts Israel in a more dangerous position than it has been in before. Meanwhile, Iran has obtained six months in which to continue its deceptions and preparations to become a nuclear power. Prime Minister Netanyahu will be forced to make a decision to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. One can’t believe the Iranian regime is serious about this agreement. Ali Khamenei made a vile speech attacking Jews and crowds in Tehran have been chanting ‘Death to America’ — this, at a time you’d think they’d be trying to put their best foot forward. Where has the Senate been? Where has the House been? Where have the pro-Israel organizations been, besides the ZOA? Where are they all at a time like this? Meanwhile President Obama is permitting Iran to keep on keeping on. Iran has been made to give up nothing or next to nothing.”
Mort Klein, in presenting the Brandeis Award to Myron Zimmerman, enumerated the many extraordinary contributions Mr. Zimmerman has made to Jewish and Israeli causes over the years, noting that, “he cares about our people and our ancient homeland with all his heart and all his soul.” In accepting the award, Mr. Zimmerman said, “I only wish I had more money to give away for this cause.”
Introducing Dr. Miriam Adelson and Sheldon Adelson to present the Adelson Defender of Israel Award to Governor Huckabee, Mort Klein noted that the ZOA is honored to make this award in their names. As Klein presented the Adelsons a beautiful, hand-carved, authentic Jerusalem stone mezuzah for their new home in Las Vegas, he said, that, after having visited the Adelson home, “This is exactly the sort of house G-d would have lived in — – — if he could afford it.”
Sheldon Adelson, in his introductory remarks for Governor Huckabee, said that “I think few Jews are as true Zionists as former pastor and governor Mike Huckabee.” Governor Huckabee than addressed the crowd saying, “The Land of Israel was promised to the Jews by G-d. The division of Jerusalem is unimaginable. You don’t negotiate with those who don’t want you to exist. I support a Palestinian state — outside Israel … The ZOA is the strongest Jewish voice for Israel on the face of the planet. Other Jewish organizations are sometimes afraid to ruffle feathers. Mort Klein and ZOA are prepared to pluck the chicken. It is time for the others get over their throat colds and speak out as well.” Turning to the deal with Iran signed in Geneva, Governor Huckabee said, “This is the equivalent of giving them a shot of whisky, the keys to the sports car and telling them to go out and impress their girl.’ Yet Secretary Kerry spoke, in fact, he is still talking, about what a good deal this is. This is the time that we need a Churchill and instead we have a Chamberlain. It is Israel that has a Churchill in Benjamin Netanyahu. It is also time that we took the jack hammer to the United Nations, disassemble it, and let it float out into the East River. The UN takes our money and insults us … Our relationship to Israel is not organizational, it’s organic. The greatest gift of G-d is to be free, and Israel is free and its borders are not set by the UN or the Balfour Declaration, but by G-d Almighty … Israel cannot talk peace to people who deny it the right to breathe. The U.S. should be saying, ‘You cannot attack Israel. An attack upon them is an attack upon us’ … Israel has been revived. The dry bones that Ezekiel saw have been revived because G-d’s hand is upon her. Standing with Israel is standing with G-d’s Chosen. G-d has never abandoned Israel and he’s not about to start and I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history … Never, never, never, never again — that is the true basis for peace.
ZOA publicly praised the President of Brandeis University, Frederick Lawrence, who attended the Dinner with his wife, for abrogating Brandeis University’s relationship with the anti-Semitic Al-Quds University.
Nationally known Rabbi Shmuley Boteach delivered the D’var Torah. Mr. James Tisch, CEO of Loews Corp. and a past Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, and Ken Bialkin, a senior partner at the law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and also a past Chair of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, were Dinner Co-Chairs. The Queens College’s award winning Jewish a capella singing group, ‘Tizmoret’ performed at the Dinner and a klezmer band performed at the reception. Dr. Alan Mazurek, Chairman of the ZOA’s National Advisory Council, as Master of Ceremonies, presided over the occasion with his usual eloquence and humor. The ZOA thanks Dr. Bob Shillman, Ira and Ingeborg Rennert, the Adelsons, Jim Tisch and others for purchasing tables enabling 200 university students to attend. The ZOA also wishes to thank Dr. Michael Goldblatt, National Chairman of the Board, and Mr. Irwin Hochberg, Vice-Chairman of the Board, for all their help and advice.