Having attended the ZOA Dinner on November 13th, I was once again reminded of how vital and important American Jewry is to both America and Israel. I am the first to recommend Aliyah to Israel. However, if you are a Jew living in America in 2022 then you have an obligation to do your part in shaping the future of Israel and to defend Israel at every turn. In this era of hyper- communication defending Israel often is part and parcel of fighting Anti-Semitism. BDS is an example of Anti-Semitism that masquerades as something else. It is impossible to separate Anti-Semitism from Anti-Israel vitriol.
I have known the head of the ZOA, Mort Klein for over 60 years. His father was my Rabbi growing up in Philadelphia at a small Shul called Yagdil Torah. Rabbi Herman Klein was a Torah scholar who could quote any part of the Torah or Talmud verbatim. He survived Auschwitz. He made the Tallis my father of blessed memory wore till the day he died. He attended my Bar-Mitzvah. My father had great respect and admiration for Mort’s father. They teamed up to make sure there was a Mechitza in the Shul. There was a faction that did not want it. Mort’s father and my father won. It was one of those incredible memories that dance in one’s head as fresh today as yesterday.
As I told Mort at the Dinner, he is carrying on the tradition of his father. His father spent all day learning Torah. Mort applies the Torah in all of his statements and actions. His impact has been huge.
American Jewry can and should learn valuable lessons from ZOA and Mort Klein. American Jewry cannot use the excuse that they are not involved in Politics. It is a cop out. If you are not engaged in the political process then you allow the Ihlan Omar’s and Rashida Tlaib’s to take over.
Israel came into existence because American Jewry and especially President Truman’s partner in the Haberdashery business, Eddie Jacobson had a profound influence on the President. The same could be said for the move of the American Embassy to Jerusalem and the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. The latter two accomplishments were brought about by President Donald Trump who spoke at the ZOA Dinner.
Israel Advocacy does not end there. There is so much more to be done. A declaration of Sovereignty over Judea and Samaria is a noble goal. A future President of the United States will indeed make that happen. It almost happened under President Trump but slipped through the fingers. That can’t happen the next time. Arab illegal building in Area C which according to the Oslo Accords will always remain in Israeli hands is happening at an alarming pace. This must stop and the illegal homes be demolished. Illegal Arab building is happening all over Jerusalem and must come to a similar end. American Jewry can come to the rescue. It has a responsibility to do so.
Truly, Mahmoud Abbas’ pay to slay lifetime pensions to terrorists must cease. The Taylor Force Act helped but unfortunately, it has not stopped the Biden Administration from funding Mahmoud Abbas. An American President will come along because American Jews demand it who will make sure there is 100% compliance.
It was great to see so many young people at the ZOA Dinner. I now know that they will carry on the great work of the ZOA and Israel advocates who fight each and every day for justice and an end to Arab Terrorism. I see a great future for Israel advocacy. I hope our Israeli counterparts are taking notice. It really is a team effort. The older Israeli politicians used to always credit American Jewry for its successes. I don’t see that as much with the newly minted ones. I hope that changes quickly. American Jews cannot rest on their laurels. New challenges arise every day. The next generation must indeed step up.