Nobel laureate Bob Dylan’s “Neighborhood Bully” was summoned up at the ZOA’s annual Louis B. Brandeis Award dinner on Nov. 20 when national president Morton Klein recited the opening lines:
Well the neighborhood bully, he’s just one man
His enemies say he’s on their land
They got him outnumbered about a million to one
He got no place to escape to, no place to run
“We did not take someone’s land,” declared keynote speaker Naftali Bennett, Israel’s minister for education and diaspora affairs. “We did not conquer a foreign land. We came back to our own land. One cannot occupy his own home.”
As for Jerusalem, Klein said the ancient Jewish capital is cited hundreds of time in the Hebrew Bible, “but it is not mentioned at all in the Koran. It is a propaganda myth, a lie, that it is holy to Muslims.”
Klein made light of his Tourette’s syndrome as he addressed the 2,000 dinner guests at the Grand Hyatt in Manhattan. Making light of his affliction, Klein noted that such people usually have a slightly higher IQ but far fewer dates in high school and college. “I would have preferred a lower IQ and a few gals, you know.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon, who delivered the keynote address, had a good word for the UN: “We are making significant progress there. Last June I was the first Israeli elected to chair a UN committee. And we even introduced kosher food in the cafeteria.”
Dr. Alan Mazurek, a Long Island neurologist and ZOA vice chairman, was ecstatic about a new president in the White House. “Never again will the prime minister of Israel have to enter through the side door,” he said.
As Michael Leven, former president of Las Vegas Sands Corp, presented the Louis D. Brandeis Award to Bernie Marcus, the Home Depot co-founder, he shamelessly admitted, “I’d never been in a hardware store in my life. I’m a Jew.”
Loews Corp CEO James Tisch presented Alan Dershowitz with the Mortimer Zuckerman Award for Outstanding Pro-Israel Journalism. Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor emeritus, recalled a time he was a visiting professor at New York University. He had a meeting with Tisch on campus and asked where to meet. “We’ll meet on the top floor of the Tisch Building,” Tisch said. “We call it Tisch Above.”
Dershowitz, who calls himself a liberal Democrat, lamented that some countries in Europe have been gravitating to the hard right, “meaning the fascist part.”
“Israel and the Jews have always thrived in the center,” he said. He insisted that the ZOA be a home to all Zionists, not only rightwing Zionists. “I don’t want to see ZOA just be the opposite of J Street. That only leads to division among Jews.”
Dershowitz revealed that, although he was a big supporter of Black Lives Matter, he had severed all contact with them for their “anti-Israel and anti-Semitic platform” in which they brand Israel an apartheid state.
Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, received the Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson Defender of Israel Award from Ken Langone, co-founder of home Depot and a major donor to NYU Langone Hospital.
Royce recalled when his father returned after the Second World War with photos he’d taken at Dachau to document the horrors of the camp. He said those photos had an impact on him. “That’s why it’s important the world take seriously any threats to annihilate Israel. How do we sit still when the ayatollah calls for the destruction of Israel?”
Tim Boxer was a columnist at the New York Post for two decades. At the same time he has been a columnist for the New York Jewish Week for 37 years and editor of 15MinutesMagazine.com for 18 years. He is the author of Jewish Celebrity Hall of Fame, interviews of Hollywood stars about their Jewish roots.