There is a whole class of ethnic political “leaders” who function as advocates for their demographic slice of the country. They lobby in the halls of power, trying to educate the government about the needs of their population, then they travel the fruited plain to educate their population about the vicissitudes of the political process. Wherever Jews resided, they were always represented by such individuals, who were given the name of shtadlan. This was a Hebrew composite formed by combining the word mishtadel, meaning someone who makes a great effort, and the similar word meshadel, meaning a charmer or seducer.
Among the modern Jewish practitioners of this blend of craft and art, my favorite has long been Morton Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, generally referenced as ZOA. He has consistently championed the State of Israel with an eloquence grounded in reality, not truckling to the shifting vogues of the cognoscenti. It is always a pleasure to read one of his op-eds in the Washington Post and other major publications; only the Jewish-owned New York Times has embargoed his work from their pages.
Klein has resisted the leftward tug of academia and the media, leaving him grounded mostly in the neocon camp, although his position adjures him to forbear such labels. When his organization honors William Kristol with the Ben Hecht Journalism Award and Gary Bauer with its Friend of Israel Award, anyone who has not Rip-Van-Winkled his way through the last four decades of American politics gets a good idea of where his light is shining on the spectrum.
Wednesday was Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem as part of Israel, which occurred as a result of fighting between Israel and Jordan in the Six-Day War of 1967. That means that this year it by definition must be celebrated as Anti-Obama Day or ignored. A few hundred hardy folks gathered in Hollywood, Florida, to hear Morton Klein report on the status of Jerusalem in American politics. He was out of this world: concise, informative, grim and pointed. Herewith some high points to convey some flavor, and some substance.
• The Arab intelligentsia, from prominent professors to revered clerics, are engaged in a massive campaign to deny that there was ever a significant Jewish presence in Jerusalem. They deny that the Temple ever stood there and they claim that all Jewish representations to the contrary are a ruse, part of an elaborate scheme to use Biblical fairy tales to cobble together a historical narrative of convenience.
• When the Congress passed the law in the mid-’90s to move the American Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Bill Clinton refused to append his signature, despite the veto-proof majority in support. It became law passively, when thirty days passed without his imprimatur.
• The law as written allows the President to delay implementation for six months by signing a waiver declaring that security concerns call for more time to prepare the transition. Clinton, Bush and Obama have all renewed the waiver every six months, rendering the statute moot. ZOA backs a new law in the House of Representatives to eliminate the waiver clause from the first bill. Thirty representatives have signed on, including the newly elected Allen West, but no Jewish Democrats have joined.
• Before 1948, all of Jerusalem was predominantly Jewish, including the Moslem Quarter of the Old City. When Jordan captured East Jerusalem by attacking the newly independent Israel in 1948, they bulldozed every synagogue, a total of about sixty. They razed the Jewish tombstones on the Mount of Olives, the oldest active cemetery in the world. They made no effort to restore the area around the Wailing Wall. The newly minted declaration that this is one of the holiest sites in Islam is belied by the casual conduct they displayed toward it when they had custody.
• In the 1906 Baedeker’s travel guide to Syria and Palestine it cites population figures for Jerusalem at 40,000 Jews, 13,000 Christians and 7,000 Moslems, proving that this was always a Jewish city, contrary to revisionist distortions promulgated by Palestinian propagandists. Sadly, the Western journalistic class has not been thorough in researching actual history and it has been content to retail the pap it receives from Palestinian publicists.
• When Governor George W. Bush was running for President in 2000, a ZOA supporter gave $100,000 to the campaign to buy a four-minute appointment with the Governor for Morton Klein. Klein asked Bush to make a commitment to move the embassy if elected. “I can’t do that, Mort,” he said. “That would screw up the peace process.”
• When President Obama met with thirteen Jewish leaders a few weeks ago, Klein was one of the invitees. Obama told them that he believes in his heart that the Palestinian leaders, President Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad, are really committed to peace but that Israel is not. “You Jews are going to have to search your souls to see if you really want peace.”
Klein was horrified but he was too polite to blurt. He raised his hand but he was not called upon to respond. Those who were allowed to speak not only did not object, they went so far as to praise Obama for his candor.
• When he met President Obama both as a candidate and in office, Klein found him to be affable, engaged, and charming. He could certainly see how people could be drawn into that vortex. While Obama was still running for President, Klein began publicizing that in his view this candidate would be unfriendly to Israel. He received personal calls from both Ed Koch and Martin Peretz, asking him to desist from this calumny and assuring him that everything would be fine.
Now, both of those figures have made well-publicized about-faces and come to realize the errors of their ways.
Yes, there were a lot more goodies, an endless stream almost. This was the most informative and stimulating rendition I have ever heard on any political subject. For now this foretaste will do, but I heartily recommend you track down his writings. The man knows what he is talking about, but only the few and the true are likely to heed his voice in the wilderness.