Posted on 05 March 2014.
By Donald H. Harrison
Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO– Steven Goldberg, a Los Angeles attorney who is national vice chairman of the Zionist Organization of America, claims he has overwhelming support in a straw poll of the ZOA membership to replace Morton A. Klein as the organization’s president.
Conducted over a three-day period, and sent to 1,099 members with an email address on record, ZOA’s national constituency favored him over Klein by a margin of 78% to 22%, according to a release e-mailed to media by Goldberg.
In response to a reporter’s inquiry, Goldberg said the actual number of votes “was 92/26 in my favor. The ballot was sent to all ZOA members who have e-mail addresses (1099). The vast majority are simply no longer active or interested. I sent the ZOA e-mail list to Survey Monkey and they sent it out. The question was simply, ‘Who is your choice for ZOA President?’ They were given two options, Steve Goldberg and Mort Klein.”
Elizabeth Berney, a campaign volunteer from Great Neck, N.Y., and spokeswoman for Klein, said the email list in question represented about 4 percent of the ZOA membership and could not be considered representative of members’ actual opinions. She said an invitation to answer the survey question was included as a link in a campaign letter sent out by Goldberg in which he made many charges against Klein, all of which she described as false. She said many friends and supporters of Klein, after receiving the survey, decided not to participate because it seemed to them to be unfair.
Read more in San Diego Jewish World
ZOA’s Klein Getting Challenge From The Right
Vote set for Sunday is first real test for longtime president; rival cites ideological and fiduciary issues.
Morton Klein, who for the last 20 years has been the right-wing voice of the pro-Israel camp in the United States as president of the Zionist Organization of America, is for the first time being challenged for re-election by a board member who claims Klein is not right-wing enough. The election is Sunday in Philadelphia.
Steven Goldberg, ZOA’s national chairman and a Los Angeles attorney, wants to unseat Klein because he believes Klein may one day be willing to give parts of the West Bank to the Palestinians for their own homeland.
“It’s not a territorial issue, it’s a religious issue,” Goldberg said. “It’s antithetical to the fundamental Islamic tenets to have a Jewish state on what is considered to be holy Muslim land. You can’t say that maybe under the right circumstances we’ll compromise and give it [the West Bank] away.”
Read more in the Jewish Week.
For 20 years, Mort Klein has served as National President of the Zionist Organization of America, a right-leaning Israel advocacy group with a venerable history. But on Sunday, Klein will face the first election challenge of his presidency when ZOA members meet to vote on granting him another term as Steven Goldberg challenges him for the position.
The issues at stake do not involve the group’s political direction. Both men stand firmly on the right end of the Zionist political spectrum and are, among other things, deeply suspicious of the current U.S.-brokered Middle East peace process and of the two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians that is endorsed by Israel and the Jewish establishment.
But the contest has grown into a bitter feud following the group’s short-term loss under Klein of its tax-exempt status for failing to file tax documents with the IRS for three years, as first reported by the Forward.
The Jewish Voice of New York has covered the election, here.
Throughout its 117-year history, the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has endured its share of successes and failures, but throughout it all, the hawkish group always emerged as a stalwart voice for a strong and unified Israel. These days, however, the organization has been riddled with stinging scandals. Currently, it is still reeling from their imbroglio with the IRS and the fact that their tax-deductible status was revoked. According to The Forward, the ZOA’s current tax trouble began in May 2011, when the organization failed to file its 2008, 2009 and 2010 Form 990s, the tax documents that the IRS requires exempt groups to file annually.
All 501(c)3s must file their 990s within 11.5 months from the end of their fiscal year. Recent legislation has allowed the IRS to automatically revoke a group’s exempt status after missing three consecutive years of filings.
During this same time period the salary of the organization’s president increased a whopping 38%. Despite this fact, in May of 2013, the organization’s tax-deductible status was reinstated, but a multitude of questions still remain unanswered.
Read more in the Jewish Voice.
Over the past two years, Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton Klein has had to defend himself against three lawsuits from two different fired employees, as well as to weather the temporary loss of his organization’s tax-exempt status and to undergo heart surgery. At the end of 2013, he earned the dubious distinction of being named by The Jewish Daily Forward as one the five most “overpaid” leaders of Jewish organizations.
Now, for the first time since 1993, when he unseated then incumbent president James Schiller, Klein is facing a challenge to his leadership of the 117-year-old hawkish pro-Israel organization. Steven Goldberg, a Los Angeles-based attorney, is actively campaigning to unseat Klein at the board election to be held at the ZOA’s upcoming convention in March.
Read more in the Jewish Journal.