ZOA President: Israelis Made the Right Choice

While it is unfair that Israelis have to base their votes on security, President Morton Klein says they made the right choice.

Gedalyah Reback, | updated: 10:55

ZOA head Morton Klein
ZOA head Morton Klein
Arutz Sheva

Morton Klein is not just relieved, but proud that Israelis came through in the end to choose a Likud-led administration.

"Israelis understood peace with the Palestinian Authority was not realistic," says Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). "I'm very proud of Israelis for choosing reality and security over fantasy. Herzog and Livni are living in a fantasy land."

The ZOA President was referring explicitly to the prospect that a Palestinian state represented a security paradigm for Israel, which in by seeing a quarter of Israelis vote for Likud in the context of Netanyahu's rejection of that model, represented a greater victory for Klein.

This Israeli election had seemed to be defined not by security and foreign policy but domestic issues like the cost of living. For Israel, that represented something very different, and might only look to 2013 for a parallel election cycle where those matters were the ones Israelis used to determine their choices for Prime Minister. That in the last week of the campaign Israelis seemed to reclaim security as their #1 campaign concern is also a sign of vindication according to Klein.

When Arutz Sheva asked if it might be in anyway tragic that a plurality of Israelis did vote on security rather than economics - the issue that tends to decide elections in most other Western democracies - Klein responded that in ways it definitely was.

"Unfortunately, when Israel is surrounded by enemies, everything else is secondary. It is a shame that they can't live like other countries, but it's the right decision to make," said Klein. "It would be a pleasure to focus on domestic issues as a priority," but Israelis currently don't have that luxury.

Running the Zionist Organization of America, Klein says that he has not noticed an issue promoting Zionism itself among Americans.

"I explain to people that Zionism is merely the belief that Jews have the right to establish a state in their ancient homeland." From that starting point, he has experienced no issues.

President Obama is most definitely a challenge however, mainly because of direct relations between Israel and the US and less so his impact on Israel's relations with Americans (and American Jews).

"Americans & Congress are (still) showing extraordinary support for Israel despite Obama. AIPAC never criticizes Obama, but even they came out with a statement demanding he change what he is doing. Congress is very angry with Obama and they don't respect him."

"He might be hurting Israel, but he is hurting himself, too," says Klein. He cites recent surveys where Netanyahu's speech has shown not to have had a negative impact on Americans' perceptions of the Jewish State.

"Four to one, Americans support Israel over the Palestinians. The majority of Congress went to that speech despite heavy pressure from the President. Israel has strong support in spite of Obama. People are disgusted by his irrational hatred of Israel."

In Klein's opinion, things might get worse before they get better, as Barack Obama's personal philosophy is too biased against Israel's positions no matter who represents the country as its Prime Minister. 

"He would have caused a rupture with Israel no matter who was the Prime Minister. His fight is with Israel, not Netanyahu. He's still fight with Herzog over the Palestinians and the Iran deal because even Herzog would not be able to do the things that Obama would want."

"Had Herzog won, the fight might take longer (to happen), but it would come out. He merely exploited issues with Netanyahu."

"In the next 22 months he'll do anything he can to unilaterally create a Palestinian state," proclaims Klein. "We're just going to have to ride it out as best we can." 

While Klein is confident that should someone like Hillary Clinton become President next, whatever inevitable fights she would have with the Israeli government would not reach the crescendo in breakdown as they have with Barack Obama.

He does see that as a crescendo, and imply that even inside the current administration there is displeasure for the degree to which Obama has taken his crisis with Jerusalem.

"Privately, people in the White House have told me that they are getting upset and feel he is going too far. Democrats privately I've spoken with are very upset with Obama."

Klein acknowledges though that the far left parts of the Democratic Party have become much more influential over Obama's term. Yet, that Democratic caucus is going to have to be wary of the broad support Israel still enjoys in the United States if it hopes to maintain a mainstream position going into the next election cycle.

"Democrats have to take note of this and decide if they want to continue being hostile (to Israel)."Klein also notes the White House has not responded to inflammatory remarks of gestures by Mahmoud 

Abbas and his Palestinian Authority the same way the White House has to Netanyahu's recent comments and policies. It brings into question how committed the White House is to fighting off anti-Semitism and the delegitimization of Israel when it does not condemn naming public squares after terrorists, statements that proclaim no Jews would be allowed to live in a Palestinian state, or Fatah's own emblem replacing Israel.

In addressing the argument that questioning Israel's legitimacy as a Jewish state was in itself legitimate, Klein offered the following sharp statement:

"Being pro-Israel doesn't mean you can't criticize Israel. But if you say that Italy shouldn't exist, then you hate Italians. You aren't critical of their policies. So too,if you say Israel shouldn't exist, then you hate Jews."




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