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March 7, 2014 11:49 am

Mort Klein’s Continued Leadership is Vital to Keep ZOA Strong and Effective

avatar by Lee S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin

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The logo of ZOA, which has regained its tax-exempt status as the IRS controversy continues to swirl. Photo: ZOA.

On Sunday, March 9, the Zionist Organization of America will convene its national convention in Philadelphia to elect its new officers in a contested election. Morton Klein, the current national president, who is running for reelection, has led ZOA, America’s first Zionist organization, founded in 1897, for the past 20 years, restoring it from grave financial and organizational straits into America’s leading, respected pro-Israel organization that it is today.

In the past 20 years, Mort has been an invaluable and indefatigable supporter and booster for Israel, the rights and survival of Jewish People and Israel. Mort’s unparalleled leadership has vaunted ZOA into a strong, respected, proud and effective organization. He has demonstrated boundless energy and been a voice of sanity on dealing with the major issues in the Middle East: the relentless pressures on Israel to make unilateral concessions to the terrorist Palestinian Authority regime, and to create a terrorist Palestinian state, and the existential threats to Israel from Iran’s nuclear weapons program. He is tremendously respected by members of Congress, the Israeli Knesset and U.S. and Israeli administrations.

Under Mort’s leadership, ZOA has obtained changes in civil rights regulations to protect Jewish students, successfully opposed the nominations of Government officials who were hostile to Israel, educated Congress and the public, brought hundreds of students to Israel, and helped pass pro-Israel Congressional resolutions and laws. He also helped create a Center for Government Relations with full-time staff members who meet with members of Congress every day, a Center for Campus Activism that educates college students in pro-Israel advocacy, a Center for Law & Justice that protects Jewish students’ rights and fights Anti-Semitism and Israel bashing on campus, and an active Israel office which meets regularly with Knesset members and cabinet ministers.

But this important work did not happen on its own and without support. Mort has personally raised tens of millions of dollars for ZOA, establishing critical contacts with Jewish philanthropists across the country. ZOA is now in the strongest financial shape it has ever been in.

Mort is recognized as one of the finest pro-Israel speakers, writers and debaters in the nation. His numerous articles have been published in all the major publications, he has appeared on countless major television and radio programs, and has spoken and debated at hundreds of public venues.

His opponent is Steve Goldberg, an attorney from Los Angeles and a national vice president. Goldberg has highlighted some management issues, which are areas for improvement. However, in doing so, he has run a campaign replete with personal false attacks on Mort and his record. He has also squatted on and registered a website in Mort’s name and improperly used the ZOA name and logo to improperly direct traffic to himself. But most significantly, Goldberg is unproven and untested as an effective, honorable leader. His resume is razor thin.

Now is not the time to remove one of this country’s most effective spokespersons and advocates for Israel. We have enough external enemies we must fight, who are coming at us, at all hours of the day, from every direction. Mort is still the man to lead these battles.

Lee S. Bender and Jerome R. Verlin, are co-President and co-Vice President of the Greater Philadelphia District of the Zionist Organization of America, and are the co-authors of Pressing Israel: Media Bias Exposed From A-To-Z,Pavilion Press, 2012

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