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April 11, 2003

An Inadvertent Testimonial to the Great Morton Klein, National President of the Zionist Organization of America
IMRA: The following article about Morton Klein, , is as much a devastating piece about other American Jewish leaders as it is a tribute to Klein, the voice of right-wing American Jewry)
By Shlomo Shamir Ha'aretz 9 April 2003

NEW YORK - At a Jewish event in Detroit last Sunday Morton Klein received an enthusiastic welcome of the kind reserved for an American politician who has wound up a primary with an impressive victory. "It's amazing," Klein told his audience, "that in both the American administration and the Israeli government there are those who relate to Holocaust denier Abu Mazen as a serious negotiation partner."

Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), is not exactly the image of a speaker who can enthuse the masses. He has a nasal voice, the result of a congenital defect, and he has difficulty finishing a long sentence without pausing for a deep breath. But the crowd in Detroit loved what he said about the "road map."

"It is a worse initiative than the first Oslo accord," he declared. "In Oslo, the Palestinians were not guaranteed a Palestinian state and Israel was not ordered to stop building settlements."

A local journalist noted this week that the enthusiasm of the audience reached a climax when Klein ridiculed the Jewish leaders who are afraid to openly express their opinions against the road map and publicly denounce Abu Mazen. "The heads of the organizations are afraid to speak out against Abu Mazen because they do not want to annoy President [George W.] Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon," said Klein. "I am very disappointed with Sharon, who expressed willingness to negotiate with Abu Mazen. Jewish leaders were also afraid to shake off the first Oslo accord because they were afraid to annoy President [Bill] Clinton and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin."

The warm welcomes that Klein is receiving at his appearances before the Jewish public in the United States stand in direct contrast to the reactions he elicits from the Jewish establishment. A few leaders and heads of Jewish organizations blatantly shy away from Klein and are openly derisive of his statements. When Klein gets up to speak at sessions of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, those present do not hide their contempt for the man and his views.

At a meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last week, Klein suggested 10 amendments to the organization's declaration of principles. Nine of the amendments were rejected outright and one was discussed briefly. In a conversation with Klein he said that even the White House is avoiding him thanks to his statements denouncing Bush's policies toward the Middle East. Klein was not invited to a Hanukkah event at the White House, to which other heads of Jewish organizations were invited. He says White House aides explicitly told him, "We won't be nice to you if you are not nice to us."