Let me begin by saying how honored I am to be invited to this podium by the Zionist Organization of America and Mort Klein, its courageous leader. For decades Mort Klein and the ZOA have stood on the frontline defending the state of Israel and American Jews, and they are doing it now in what is certainly one of the darker periods for the Jewish people – darker all over the world – in our 5,000-year history. I applaud you for supporting Mort Klein and his team. I am touched by the recognition of an organization like this for the modest work I have done in behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.
Still, there is a paradox at the heart of this honor awarded me by the Zionist Organization of America, which will take me a moment to explain. It is true that I am widely attacked by anti-Semites and Jew-haters and the enemies of Israel as a Zionist — and an arch Zionist at that. I have been called variously a Zionist Jew, an “Israel Firster Zionist Jew,” “a rabid Zionist” (by Julian Assange no less), a “radical right-wing Zionist,” an “extreme Zionist,” an “extremist Zionist stalwart,” an “unrepentant Zionist,” an “ultra Zionist” and a “Zio-Nazi.”
Today, anti-Zionism is the cause of Jew-haters and anti-Semites the world over, and for Jews embarrassed by the fact that they are Jews and that others fear and despise them for that reason. Even the rare Jewish magazine of the left that is actually a supporter of Israel, is uncomfortable with the connotations of the Zionist label, and with what it means for Jews to defend themselves. In a recent unflattering profile, the Tablet magazine described me as touring the country “making the case for a muscular Zionism.”