NEW YORK (Dec. 13)
The Zionist Organization of America has expressed its dissatisfaction with the progress of Israeli-Palestinian peace accords by electing a hard-line activist as the organization’s president after a hard-fought campaign.
Morton Klein of Philadelphia defeated incumbent James Schiller on Sunday in what was described as a close vote.
The ZOA has long been one of the most hawkish of the American Zionist organizations and is linked to a faction of Israel’s Likud party.
But following the defeat of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, and particularly after the signing in September of the declaration of principles between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, the ZOA lowered its political profile to adhere to the American Jewish mainstream’s generally accepted policy of support for the elected government of Israel.
Klein, however, charged that the ZOA failed to be diligent enough in exposing how the PLO and Chairman Yasser Arafat violated the declaration of principles.
“The people at ZOA thought that by doing that, we would hurt the peace process,” said Klein after his victory. “I think it would put some pressure on the PLO to abide by the agreement they signed.”
Klein, an economist and health statistician, first made his mark on the Jewish community by protesting anti-Israel biases he discovered in textbooks, travel guides and newspapers.
This past year he led an unsuccessful campaign to block the admission of Americans for Peace Now into the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
The ZOA convention, meeting in Washington, also elected the entire slate of officers aligned with Klein.