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Sold-Out ZOA Gala Dinner in Davie, Florida Honors “Heroes for Israel”

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400 Attendees Gather at Sold-Out ZOA “Heroes for Israel” Gala in Davie Florida

Report and Photos :Lieba Nesis

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) held its “Heroes for Israel” gala on Sunday March 17th 2024 at the David Posnack JCC in Davie Florida with dinner beginning at 6 PM.  The sold-out 400 person event with tickets for $360 and less started with a delicious meat buffet dinner, a smattering of outside protestors, and a host of speeches that were even more delectable.

Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, receiving Dr. Miriam and Sheldon G. Adelson Defender of Israel Award at ZOA Florida Gala, with Dr. Miriam Adelson, Mort Klein, and Allison Zur.
Paul Tartell, Vice Chair of the ZOA National Board receiving his Pillar of the Community Award with Mort Klein, ZOA National President, Allison Zur, Director of ZOA Florida, and Sheryl Silver, Officer of ZOA National Board
Left: Dr. Miriam Adelson is a physician, philanthropist and political donor. She is the widow of philanthropist Sheldon Adelson and is the owner of the Las Vegas Sands. She is the current publisher of the newspaper Israel Hayom and the majority owner of the Dallas Mavericks with her son-in-law Patrick Dumont. On the right is, Christopher Ruddy. He is the CEO and majority owner of Newsmax Media. Credit for all photos: Lieba Nesis
– Mort Klein has been president of the ZOA for the past 30 years

ZOA was founded in 1897 as the Federation of American Zionists -the first official Zionist organization in the United States. With over 25,000 members its platform opposes Palestinian statehood and advocates globally for Israel.  In 1994 trailblazer Mort Klein became president of the organization and began his reign by opposing Israel’s decision to withdraw from the Gaza Strip in 2005-following up in 2009 by demanding an apology from those who supported the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza as the security situation rapidly deteriorated.  Fast forward to October 7th and MIT graduate Mort Klein’s prescient warnings of Hamas being Hitler unfortunately became reality.  Fighting the fight with Klein were the night’s honorees not all of whom were Jewish including Rep. Elise Stefanik, Rep. Brian Mast, Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, philanthropist Miriam Adelson and ZOA National Board Vice Chair Paul Martell.

Left: Mike Leven is a veteran hospitality executive with the Las Vegas Sands Corp. To his right is Larry Smith and next to him is Rhonda Smalls.
Left: Ben Koether is the leading manufacturer of appliance controls exclusively for the food service industry. Next to him is Ed Henry, who was the co-host of America’s Newsroom on the Fox News Channel, along with Sandra Smith.

Klein’s 30-year ZOA helm has involved efforts to reinterpret Article 6 of the Civil Rights Act to protect Jewish students from antisemitism in federally funded schools,  advocacy for moving the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and influencing the passing of the Taylor Force Act which was designed to end incentives for terrorists under the Palestinian Authority’s “pay to slay” policy by blocking American aid.  Tonight Klein pointed to the tiny state of Israel which was being forced to remit land as he said dating from the time of Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Ben Franklin the United States always supported reestablishing the State of Israel. When Truman finally recognized the state in 1948 it was long overdue as Klein remarked 82% of Americans currently support Israel over Arab Muslims.

Congressman Brian Mast accepting ZOA’s Dr. Bob Shillman Zionism award with Gala co-chairs Lewis and Helene Stahl, ZOA National President Mort Klein, and ZOA Florida Director Allison Zur

The Hamas horror didn’t start with October 7th, said Klein, but rather began in 2005 when Hamas took over Gaza and began launching rockets-the amount which has totaled 30,000. He cast doubt on the term “innocent Gazans” as they elected Hamas by an overwhelming majority in 2005, spat and cheered when dead Jewish bodies drove through Gaza on October 7th, and participated in rape and pillaging on that black Saturday.  The Hamas charter calls for the murder of every Jew and its desire for land is based on antisemitism alone, noted Klein, as Palestine is a region not a country.  Instead of worrying about displaced Gazans, Klein said the focus should be on the 200,000 dispossessed Jews from the North and South of Israel whose lives face imminent threat as the small state of Israel has been forced to contract further.  With 75-95% of Arabs, including the Palestinian Authority, supporting October 7th Klein felt it hard to empathize with those seeking to destroy Israel noting the Arabs turned down Israeli offers of statehood 4 times in the last 20 years.

Gabriel Groisman and his wife Yona. Gabriel is the former Mayor of Bal Harbour, Florida, and an attorney and consultant at LSN.
On the left is Keith Singer and next to him is David Rosen. Singer is a wealth management advisor.

Calling out the Biden administration for giving $26 billion to Iran along with its joint Schumer critique of Netanyahu, Klein said Israel was being treated as a banana republic ironically resulting in a popularity surge for its Prime Minister.  Klein noted the notion of a 6 week ceasefire during the midst of war before defeating the enemy is unheard of and the necessity for entering Rafah was undeniable despite the double standard inflicted on Israel as false claims of genocide are regularly lobbed at the Jewish state-noting that after Pearl Harbor the US killed more than 3 million civilians as compared to the thousands killed by the IDF.  Casting doubt on the holiness of Jerusalem to the Arabs, Klein said it should be “off the table” as their eye on East Jerusalem is based on vengeance alone since the Jewish bible mentions Jerusalem 700 times while the Quaran mentions it zero.

Chris Ruddy, Founder & CEO of Newsmax, receiving his ZOA Zionist Hero Award with Mort Klein, Allison Zur, and Simon Falic
Thiago and Glauco Alvez
Lee Lipton is the owner of “Benny’s on the Beach” – a restaurant in Lake Worth Beach, Florida.

Avid ZOA supporter Dr. Miriam Adelson was in concurrence as she flew in from Israel to present Rep. Elise Stefanik with the “Defender of Israel Award”.  Stefanik who chairs the US House Republican Conference rose to fame when billions tuned in for the most watched conference of all time where leaders of MIT, Harvard and University of Pennsylvania failed to answer Stefanik’s simple question as to whether “calling for the genocide of Jewish people violated the school’s code of conduct”-to which all three responded it was context dependent.  Stefanik recalled the depravity of Hamas which she witnessed firsthand on the 47 minute video of their atrocities provided by the Israeli government-a moment etched in her memory eternally. She was shocked by Schumer’s efforts to hold up aid to Israel in its darkest hour as she was doing everything in her power to give Israel the necessary resources.

Rep Elise Stefanik, a Republican congressional member from New York was the recipient of the “Defender of Israel” Award at the ZOA gala. Stefanik who chairs the US House Republican Conference rose to fame when billions tuned in for the most watched conference of all time where leaders of MIT, Harvard and University of Pennsylvania failed to answer Stefanik’s simple question as to whether “calling for the genocide of Jewish people violated the school’s code of conduct”-to which all three responded it was context dependent.
Nova music festival survivors Niv, Amit and Shay. They spent six hours dodging Hamas bullets on that fateful day

Stefanik said the Jewish people hold a special place in her heart after joining her Harvard College friends for numerous shabbat dinners as an undergraduate which led to her deep lifelong love of the Jewish people.  She called out the moral rot on campuses as vile antisemitism spreads and said she would hold every school accountable as she recently subpoenaed Harvard for the first time in history with Columbia University next on the agenda.  Stefanik said she would view any campus leader refusing to protect Jewish students as aligning with Hamas-and would seek justice. Subsequent to a protestor being forcibly removed for shouting “oppression warrants resistance” Israel philanthropist Simon Falic reiterated Stefanik’s critique of Schumer remarking that while Chuck frequently calls himself the “Shomer of Israel” the only true guardians were the IDF who risk their lives daily by showing the world the death and rape of Jewish women and children comes with an expensive price that Hamas is being forced to pay.

On the left is Eytan Laor, the president of Electoral Strategies, Inc. To his right is Canadian born writer, Aedan O’Connor. To her right is David Milstein served as Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. To his right are Joan and Paul Tartell. Dr. Tartell was the recipient of the ZOA’s “Pillar of the Community Award”
Moshe Popack is a third-generation real estate investor and he heads up the company known as YMP real estate management.

Falic presented the aptly titled “Zionist Hero Award” to media giant and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy.  Ruddy dedicated his award to his late Christian mother who loved the Jewish state. Ruddy’s own fascination with Israel began when he attended Hebrew University at age 19. Praising Israel as a great democracy and the last hope in the Middle East, Ruddy expressed incredulity at the notion of Jews being afraid to walk the streets of New York-a large part of which he attributed to the media. Comparing Netanyahu to Roosevelt, Ruddy extolled Netanyahu for his impeccable leadership as he seeks to destroy Hamas monsters.  He called Putin’s quest to overtake the free world “pure evil” remarking that Putin’s birthday of October 7th was hardly a coincidence as Ruddy believes Putin’s fingerprints were all over the complex attack.  Ruddy said the Ukraine and Israeli wars were due to a lack of leadership which a Trump presidency would remediate.  Ruddy received a standing ovation as he concluded with the promise that Newsmax would be at the forefront of defending Israel.

– Mary and Joseph Korff. Mr. Korff is the founder of the Arc Companies, a group active across asset classes and geographies.

The evening concluded with the erudite speech of “Pillar of the Community Award” recipient Dr. Paul Martell who remarked that Jordan was the Palestinian state the Arabs craved and Gaza should be turned into a demilitarized zone akin to Korea.  As guests headed for dessert and coffee at 11 PM I spoke to Nova festival survivors, Niv, Amit and Shay who spent six hours dodging Hamas bullets on that fateful day-occurrences that organizations such as ZOA work tirelessly to ensure never happen again.

from left to right: Simon Falic, Ken Abramowitz & Aaron Klein. Simon Falic is the Chairman at Duty Free Americas. Ken Abramowitz is a leading threat analyst and Managing General Partner of NGN Capital. He is the author of the critically-acclaimed book, “The Multifront War: Defending America From Political Islam, China, Russia, Pandemics, and Racial Strife.”

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