He has made himself a wealthy man from the ZOA coffers while the ZOA has seen its membership and financial base shrink; to the point that the organization is essentially moribund.
We concluded that the ZOA membership should seriously consider other options in their upcoming elections as new leadership is desperately needed.
The entire Board of Directors of the ZOA must resign. Why? Because it has not fulfilled its fiduciary duty to supervise the affairs of the ZOA. There should have been controls on Mort Klein’s management of the ZOA. The Board should never have allowed Mr. Klein to take such a staggeringly high salary, especially as the ranks of the ZOA were diminishing and its donations were dropping precipitously.
The Board should not have allowed the ZOA to fail to file its Form 990s for three consecutive years, which is an inexcusable dereliction of duty. This failure cost the ZOA its status as a 501c3 non-profit organization effective May of 2011 until May of 2013.
It is also shocking that the Board of Directors allowed Mort Klein to conceal from the public that the ZOA had lost its 501c3 status. This constituted lying by omission, which is immoral and perhaps flatly illegal.
Moreover, Mort Klein is legendary for his volcanic temper, which causes him to bully and abuse ZOA employees. Far too many talented and devoted ZOA employees have been fired or driven to quit because of the mistreatment to which they have been subjected. Just by way of example, there have been approximately 10 National Executive Directors in the 10 years of Mr. Klein’s tenure as ZOA President. Not only is such deplorable behavior exceptionally harmful to the success of the ZOA, but it is in direct contravention to Torah principles and represents a Chilul Hashem (desecration of G-d’s name). Such an embarrassing turnover rate is unacceptable under any conditions and adversely impacts the ZOA’s effectiveness.
Finally, the Board of Directors is conspiring to prevent a democratic election for ZOA President. It accepted Mort Klein’s decision to move the convention from New York, where it is traditionally held, to Philadelphia, Mr. Klein’s hometown, where his friends reside.
Even worse, the Board of Directors is not allowing ZOA members across the country to vote by absentee ballot, by proxy or by e-mail. For a national organization to disenfranchise its loyal members across the country in such a fashion, just to ensure the reelection of Mort Klein, is a monumental disgrace.
At this critical time for the State of Israel, the ZOA needs become vigorous and effective. To do that, it must clean house. We conclude sadly but inevitably that the ZOA’s Board of Directors has been complicit in the gross mismanagement of the organization by deliberately turning a blind eye to Mort Klein’s misconduct. To save the ZOA, it is not only imperative that a new president be elected but that the entire Board of Directors be replaced by people who are honest and competent.
Because we are living in perilous times, the State of Israel needs the kind of clear and strong voice that the ZOA once proudly represented. Earlier this week, we heard the words of Obama administration flunky Jack Lew, who addressed the AIPAC policy conference in Washington. He told those gathered that Iran will hardly reap any benefit from its sanctions relief and thus fair, AIPAC has been eerily quiet on this issue; giving the distinct impression that they are marching lock step with the Obama plan not to continue to punish Iran with crippling economic sanctions, while Iran boldly forges ahead with its nuclear program.
There was once a time when the ZOA would have a crafted a strong policy initiative and would have had the wherewithal to buck the administration’s efforts to coddle Iran. There was once a time when the ZOA would have been in the forefront of the opposition to the Obama-Kerry driven “peace plan” in the Middle East which essentially calls for Israel’s destruction by imposing upon them the suicidal “two-state solution” idea.
The Jewish people and the future of the State of Israel need a resonant voice such as the ZOA but unless they “get their act together” and straighten out their murky financial situation, they will disappear as a significant player on the American Jewish scene.