In S.F., ZOA president lashes out at Orwellian lies against Israel

In a fiery San Francisco speech this week, Morton Klein suggested “Barack Hussein Obama” (as he referred to the president) is a terrorist sympathizer, claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood regularly meets in the White House and called AIPAC a “disgrace” because, he posited, the pro-Israel lobby has opposed Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

C’mon, Mort, tell us how you really feel.


Morton Klein at Lisa Kampner Hebrew Academy in San Francisco on Jan. 26 photo/dan pine

The blunt-talking national president of the Zionist Organization of America spoke Jan. 26 to a sympathetic audience of several dozen at Lisa Kampner Hebrew Academy. He titled his speech “The Orwellian Lies Against Israel.”


The ZOA is often labeled as right-wing, even in the Jewish world, for its hardline take on Middle East affairs. However, Klein considers himself a rational centrist, claiming, “Truth is not a political position.”

The “Orwellian lies” he addressed included: Israel “occupies” the West Bank (it doesn’t, he said, as Palestinians there have autonomy in all respects except security); Jerusalem is holy to Muslims (“We’re not giving an inch in a city that has nothing to do with your religion,” he intoned); the Palestinian refugee problem is real; and Israel is an apartheid state.

And last, but certainly not least, of the alleged lies he presented: that there is a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not so, he says.

“The Palestinians do not want a Palestinian state if it means accepting Israel,” Klein de-clared. After recounting the many proposals made to the Arabs over the last 70 years, he added, “Every time statehood is offered, they say no because it means accepting Israel and signing a clause of no further claims. Statehood is not the issue.”

Now in his 23rd year as ZOA’s national president, Klein, who was born in a DP camp in Germany, has revived the fortunes of the 117-year-old organization, in part because of his willingness to ruffle feathers.

In some respects, Klein’s ZOA differs from other mainstream Jewish organizations more in style than in substance in its unstinting support for Israel, its deep suspicion of Iran’s nuclear program and its alarm over radical Islamic jihadism.


Morton Klein on CNN photo/

But in other respects, the ZOA stands alone. It considers Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza a historic mistake. It is the only major Jewish organization that fully endorses Jewish settlements anywhere in the West Bank (Klein calls them “Jewish communities”). And the organization officially opposes the creation of a Palestinian state. Now or ever.


“The world has to stop appeasing the Palestinian Authority,” he said. “I hate this term [two-state solution]. It demonizes Israel as if it’s not already a state.”

When asked, he would not say what he thought should happen to the 2.5 million Arabs living in the West Bank, but instead repeated his opposition to a Palestinian state.

While he blasted PA President Mahmoud Abbas (“He praises terrorists; that’s hardly a moderate peace seeker”) and accused Iranian President Hassan Rouhani of direct involvement in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Argentina, Klein reserved his sharpest attacks for Obama.

He excoriated the president for not attending the mass march in Paris earlier this month in the wake of that city’s twin terror attacks. He scolded him for refusing to use the term “Islamic terror,” for releasing Muslim prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, for continuing to negotiate with Iran, and for promising to shun Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he addresses Congress in March.

The list went on.

“Why does the president seem to be more sympathetic to radical Muslim terrorists than he is to the victims of radical Muslim terrorists?” he asked. “He’s been treating Israel as an enemy. But he has only nice words about the Iranians.”

On that front, Klein applauded GOP control of Congress because, “overall, Republicans are far more supportive [of Israel]. So there will be a stronger move to try to stop the biggest existential threat to the world: Iran and its nuclear weapons.”

He added: “I’m afraid the only way to stop Iran is military action. Israeli officials tell me they know where the [nuclear] facilities are and they know how to destroy them. They will not allow this existential threat.”

It wasn’t all gloom and doom. Klein was warmly received by attendees, many of whom thanked Klein and praised the ZOA for its uncompromising stances.

Klein, too, ended his remarks on a positive note, citing a recent global poll determining which nations report the highest levels of personal happiness. Israel cleaned up.

“Despite all these problems,” Klein said, “70 percent of Israelis [according to the poll] say they will overcome all their problems and survive forever. Israeli Jews report among the highest rates of satisfaction in the world.”

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.