I recently sat down for an exclusive conversation with the National President of the Zionist Organization of America, Morton Klein, to discuss present activities and future outlook for the most respected Zionist organization and worldwide Jewry.
Cindy Grosz: Mort, it’s always a pleasure to discuss anything with you. I never leave a conversation without thinking, “What more can I do for fighting the cause to stand with Israel and fight anti-Semitism?” You have that influence on me. That’s a compliment—because very few people have that impact on me. I thank you for that.
I’m so impressed by the success of the recent annual gala. The list of noted honorees and featured guests was so impressive, from Ambassador David Friedman, to Jon Voight and Ice Cube. Tell me more about it.
Mort Klein: Despite a pandemic, growing anti-Semitism around the world and endless challenges, this year’s gala was a huge success. So far, over 2,000 participated in signing in to watch our speakers and people donated what they could.
C: The highlight of the gala is your budding friendship with Ice Cube. Tell us more.
M: Ice Cube is becoming a true friend of ZOA and supporting Israel. He has condemned Jew-Hatred and offered to help educate others about supporting Israel and building relationships to Jews in a positive way. He promised to attend the next live gala and personally purchase tables to bring other celebrities so they learn more about supporting Israel.
C: ZOA has close ties to many in the Trump administration.
M: President Trump will go down in history as the greatest ally to Israel and the Jewish people. Through the years of his administration, ZOA has built strong ties to many who worked for his administration including Richard Grenell and Robert O’Brien. This year’s roster of speakers and awardees included Ambassador David Friedman and Dr. Kiron Skinner, Former Assistant to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
C: What are the top three issues that should concern Zionists in 2021?
M: Great question, I really haven’t thought about it like that but I can tell you the top issue that Jews from all religious affiliations should be concerned about-- and that is intermarriage.
C: I never thought that would top your list. Why?
M: Interfaith marriages might celebrate some holidays but it has been proven that their support for Israel is minimized and their lack of history, facts and security issues in the Middle East only hurt Zionism. That relates to my second issue -- the support of a Palestinian state. Those included in interfaith families grow up thinking all inclusive without prioritizing pride in Israel.
Why are so many ignoring the fact that the Middle East does not need another military state with volatile leadership? Why are so many Arabic countries interested in establishing ties with Israel following the success of the Abraham Accords? They see strength in numbers, financial opportunities and a united force against Iran. The third issue many ignore but should start talking about is the ‘Jewish Hatred’ among Jews, and the leadership of Jewish organizations either ignoring it or joining in on it.
C: Being your friend, I know how many of those leaders and organizations have been outspoken against you and ZOA for standing up to Israel and Jew hate. It pains me to see you targeted, but it also makes me proud to call you my friend.
M: You can’t imagine how many public figures and respected presidents and board members of the most recognized Jewish organizations are calling me to stop, threatening me and targeting ZOA for remaining true and consistent with their stand supporting all of Israel and calling out everyone in the Biden-Harris administration who has a proven record of not supporting Israel.
C: Would you help Joe Biden if he is sworn in as president?
M: ZOA is a bipartisan organization and has a history of working with, recognizing and honoring Democrats. I would be honored to offer any assistance and support IF the issue and people merit it. However, every single person Joe Biden has picked for cabinet positions has a record going against Israel, including his ambassador to Israel, Dennis Ross. He has made wrong discussions in the past and he supports everything from rejoining the Iranian Nuclear Deal to his work during the Bush administration. Biden, Harris and many of the elected officials have been endorsed by JStreet and support Black Lives Matter, which supports BDS and stood by as synagogues and Jewish businesses were destroyed during last year’s riots.
C: Which leads me to a fourth issue that must be addressed in 2021--the new Black Lives Matter curriculum in public schools.
M: I couldn’t agree more.
C: Who do you see as the future leaders in both parties in Washington?
M: We honored Israel’s new Ambassador to the United Nations and United States, Gilad Erdan. He stated that Israel’s future looks brighter than ever and that the Abraham Accords are taking Middle East relationships into new directions. He led the vote for Israel and joined the United States in voting against the 2021 United Nations budget.
C: Little did I realize that I introduced you to a rising superstar in Washington at the 2019 gala, my friend, Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis.
M: I look forward to working directly with her.
C: She will be a powerful voice and I will make sure you connect.
Mort, as always, it is a pleasure knowing you, supporting your work and talking with you. Because of people like you, I started Jewish Vote GOP to help Jews educate themselves, register to vote on local, state and national levels, something ZOA, as a 501-c3 can’t do. I feel the best solution to fighting anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism is to actually have Jewish elected officials who stand with Israel and make the decisions on school boards and town and state legislatures all over the United States.