A recent article about Zionist Organization of America President Mort Klein is filled with inaccurate allegations (“Qatar spat is latest example of Klein’s combative ZOA leadership,” June 29). Here are the facts.
On Nov. 2, ZOA innocently and legitimately accepted a Jewish businessman’s generous donation for tables at the ZOA gala. The donor gave every indication that he was donating his own funds: The checks listed his private home address, and he told Klein he was donating because he “loved ZOA’s pro-Israel work,” wanted to become “active, one of our top five donors, join ZOA’s board,” and urge his “wealthy Jewish friends to donate.”
When a filing last week indicated his funds had possible links to Qatar, ZOA promptly returned the donation to eliminate any hint of impropriety. There were no conditions, either expressed or implied, attached to the donation. Ever.
This donor advised that Qatar was moving to change its policies to become more pro-Israel and pro-American, and Klein’s meeting with them could boost such progress, benefitting Israel and America. Klein refused to visit Qatar, despite the donor’s requests, before and after receipt of the checks.
After major Zionists Malcolm Hoenlein, Alan Dershowitz, Mike Huckabee and others agreed to visit Qatar, and after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin praised Qatar for “improvements made in fighting terror,” and after turning down an invitation for four months, Klein decided to visit in January 2018. He went armed with ZOA’s 50-page report detailing Qatar’s troubling policies and ZOA’s demands to benefit Israel and the Jewish people. Significantly, Klein was instrumental in obtaining cancellation of Al Jazeera’s anti-Israel documentary scheduled to run last February, and removal of anti-Semitic books from Qatar’s book fair.
Notwithstanding this, Klein continued to criticize Qatar. In a Feb. 2 interview, Klein stated, “I was and will be tough on Qatar and until they change…I won’t be supportive of Qatar,” and “my feelings will remain negative until they have taken substantial steps for an extended period of time.” He also condemned the emir’s U.N. speech blaming Israel for lack of peace and Qatar’s Jerusalem positions.
Chair, Zionist Organization of America
Executive Vice President, Zionist Organization of America