Saturday, March 08, 2014

The Zionist Organization of America – A personal postscript

 Martin Sherman
ZOA’s current condition reflects the accumulative result of the incumbent president’s best efforts over the past 20 years. His reelection is unlikely to induce the change that even his proponents admit is needed

An excerpt:
…the ZOA is in crisis today… the ZOA’s crisis isn’t about its direction. It is about its leadership...right now, the most important thing for the ZOA and the American Jewish community as a whole is for Klein to be reelected. 

– Caroline B. Glick, “The ZOA’s leadership challenge,”The Jerusalem Post, March 3 

This is not the topic I was hoping to deal with in this week’s column.

I had intended to devote it to a critical analysis of the (borderline anti-Semitic) interview Barack Obama
 gave to Bloomberg’s Jeffrey Goldberg on March 2.

I even had a title for it: “The bitter fruits of Bibi’s Bar-Ilan blunder.” In it I planned to show how the causal chain of events that led to the predicament in which Israel finds itself with the US administration can be traced back – link by unfortunate link – to Binyamin Netanyahu’s regrettable June 2009 speech at Bar Ilan University
, when, reneging on his electoral commitments, he endorsed Israeli acceptance of Palestinian statehood.

Or perhaps, given breaking news on the spectacularly successful IDF marine interception of the Iranian rockets bound for Gaza, I would have composed a piece pointing out that — for all our unmitigated admiration for the astounding feat – the only reason such risk-fraught operations are necessary is that Israel abandoned Gaza in 2005.

But the fallout from last week’s column on the upcoming Zionist Organization of America elections in Philadelphia 
 on March 9-10 dictates otherwise. Read More

Compelled to respond 

As readers will recall, last week I suggested that after Mort Klein’s 20-year stint as president of ZOA, it might be time for a change in leadership – particularly in light of the less-than-spectacular growth of the organization in recent years, and of what appear to be serious lapses in management and misallocation of resources.

As my column was scrupulously researched, and drew on (publicly available) data submitted by ZOA on its financial activity, and data from sources that can euphemistically be designated “well-informed,” I assumed – or at least hoped – that any debate it might generate would be on the significance of the analysis, rather than on the authenticity of the data or the integrity of the messenger.

This turned out not to be the case, and I find myself compelled to respond to what is difficult not to interpret as a concerted effort to mislead the public.

I do so with no relish, since I am more than loath to engage in a public altercation with essentially like-minded Israel advocates. But the alternative is to let these grave distortions and deceptions go unchallenged.

My reluctance, and sense of discomfort, are heightened by the fact that this puts me in direct conflict – or at least disagreement – with my Jerusalem Post colleague Caroline Glick
, who in her column earlier this week (see above) chose to endorse Klein’s reelection for yet another term as ZOA president, rather than the challenger,Los Angeles attorney Steve GoldbergRead More

Totally agree, therefore totally disagree 

Glick states that ZOA “is not the biggest American Jewish organization. It is not the most powerful American Jewish organization...But it is the most important American Jewish organization.”

I agree wholeheartedly – which is precisely why this debate and the outcomes it precipitates are so vital.

Let me be clear. I have huge respect for Glick, for her intellect, courage, eloquence and incisive analytical abilities. I rarely disagree with her astute assessments of Israel’s strategic challenges, although on some issues, I have serious reservations as to her operational prescriptions – particularly on the Palestinian question. With regard to the column in question, however, I have little option but to take strenuous issue with her. It was a regrettable piece which should never have been written. I fear that its almost self-contradictory arguments did herself, and her strongly held beliefs, a grave disservice.

Allow me to illustrate…
Read More

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