The ZOA’s convention on March 9, 2014 was every bit the sham that “Save the ZOA” predicted.
Mort Klein and his cronies had hand-picked delegates who were known to be personal friends of his. Spouses of friendly delegates were added to increase Mort Klein’s tally even if they were not on the ZOA membership list. The vote of the sham convention was 115-9. Frankly, Steve Goldberg was surprised to get even that many votes.
Mort Klein was allowed to speak for 45 minutes in the morning and then for 17 minutes in the afternoon while Steve was given just the 17 minutes in the afternoon. The Convention did not provide any time for debate.
Steve was repeatedly heckled and interrupted during his speech. Alan Mazurek, the Chair of the Convention, who was supposed to be scrupulously neutral, led a chant of “We Want Mort” after Mort Klein’s speech but before Steve’s. The elderly delegates who supported Mort Klein attempted to join the chant but lacked the stamina to maintain it for more than a few seconds.
During Mort Klein’s second speech, he cried repeatedly. The speech was largely a re-hash of old slanderous charges against Steve. There was one new outrageously false charge. Mort Klein actually said that Steve telephoned him and urged him to commit suicide. Bizarre as it may seem, most of the audience actually seemed to believe it.
“The treatment I received at this convention was equivalent to the treatment Israel receives in the United Nations,” Steve remarked. “When I was speaking, I felt like I was addressing the inpatients in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,’ only older.”
Mort Klein, his cronies, and the convention gave no consideration whatsoever to the wishes of the majority of ZOA members across the country, who were disenfranchised because they could not physically be in Philadelphia.
“I’m gratified that I won the votes of the vast majority of ZOA members,” Steve added. “It’s a disgrace that loyal ZOA members who have donated time, energy, and money have been disenfranchised.”
Mort Klein may have been reappointed President by his friends, but he has no legitimacy from the membership, and the ZOA’s credibility is further stained as a result. There is no hope for the ZOA becoming an effective pro-Israel organization again until Mort Klein and his rubber-stamp board have left the scene.
Steve Goldberg looks forward to continuing his pro-Israel advocacy in more effective ways, including as an Israeli citizen.