At the last minute, the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles canceled a Sunday morning event where Pamela Geller was scheduled to speak on the issues of war in the Middle East and the historical hatred of Jews in the Muslim world.
Citing security concerns that the building might be stormed by Muslim activists, the Federation informed the Zionist Organization of America – which was hosting the event – that the speech would be called off.
“We said, ‘we will pay for additional security so there will be no problems,’” Morton Klein, President of the ZOA, told The Algemeiner. “They rejected that, saying ‘we’re not going to let Pam Geller or any of your people in the building.’”
Klein says the event was posted for weeks on the Federation’s website and that everything was done transparently throughout the process of scheduling Geller to speak, and that the timing of the cancellation was upsetting.
“If there was a problem, we should have discussed it earlier, but we shouldn’t cancel a talk because of threats and condemnations from radical Muslim groups or other anti-Semites,” Klein said.
The Jewish Federation of Greater LA has not returned requests for comment on this story.
Geller, who is a controversial author and activist criticized by some for her beliefs towards Islam, says the Jewish Federation in LA has set a dangerous precedent.
“I think it was a disaster. Zionism is not welcome at the LA Jewish Federation,” she said in an interview with The Algemeiner. “It was almost a historical moment where they would cave to a group who is affiliated with Hamas,” she said, referring to reports that the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has been linked to the terrorist group by the U.S. Congress, was responsible for the event’s cancellation.
According to the Los Angeles Times, CAIR representative Hussam Ayloush says his group will not be affected by people like Geller.
“We will not be affected by the noise of people who hopefully become more and more irrelevant,” Ayloush said. “Unfortunately, outrageous rhetoric gets attention because it’s outrageous, and Pamela Geller knows that very well.”
Suggestions that the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles may have made their decision based on threats from “left-wing” donors, and not Muslim activists, were made to The Algemeiner by numerous sources.
And according to Klein, officials from the Federation have acknowledged the late cancellation to the ZOA.
“They called and told us they made a mistake by waiting to the last minute to discuss the issue” he said.
“We have nothing against the Federation. They do important work and they help Israel,” Klein added.
UPDATE: Following clarification from the Zionist Organization of America of comments made by Mr. Klein, the following amendments have been added to this article.
1. The event featuring Ms. Geller was posted on the Federation website for three weeks preceding the event as opposed to “months” as reported originally.
2. Mr. Klein’s reference to threats and condemnations from “the Muslim world” was clarified as threats and condemnations from “radical Muslim groups or other anti-Semites.”
3. Mr. Klein’s mention of an apology from the Federation as previously reported was clarified to be in actuality only an acknowledgment of their mistake in waiting to discuss and cancel the event at the last minute.