The head of the Zionist Organization of America, Morton Klein, bemoaned the firing of White House communications director Anthony “the Mooch” Scaramucci on Monday in an interview with Haaretz. “We lost a very strong friend and supporter of Israel,” Klein told the Israeli daily, referring to Scaramucci by his nickname.
Scaramucci had only been on the job for 10 days and was fired by the new White House chief of staff John F. Kelly. The move came days after another major White House staff shake-up when Scaramucci’s foe Reince Priebus was let go from his post as chief of staff on July 27.
“We lost a very strong friend and supporter of Israel,” said Mort Klein, the president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), a right-wing organization, who has been in touch with Scaramucci ever since the 2016 election campaign. “He loves Israel and wants to do what is best for Israel, as long as its’ also the best thing for America,” Klein told Haaretz with regards to the “Mooch,” using his nickname, and adding that “maybe they will still find another position for him in the administration.”
More from Haaretz:
“Scaramucci is a Wall Street guy, not a policy expert,” Klein told Haaretz on Monday, in a conversation which took place after news of Mooch’s firing had broken. “His knowledge of the policy issues related to Israel wasn’t perfect, but his heart was in the right place. He came to me during the election, when he was advising Trump, to get some advice and ideas. I always felt that he is a sincere friend of Israel, and he became more knowledgeable with time.”
Klein’s relationship with the Trump administration was first solidified by Scaramucci when the two sat down in January to discuss Israel and moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. It was the first meeting between a major Jewish organization and the Trump team after the election. According to Klein, the ZOA has had an ear to the administration before the in-person discussion, but Scaramucci was his link to the administration.
Outside of the White House, both Trump and Klein received heavy financial backing from casino mogul and billionaire pro-Israel funder Sheldon Adelson who donated to both the Trump campaign and the ZOA.
Speaking to the Jewish Insider, Klein said the feedback he had received from the Trump administration was that their views about Israel matched those of the ZOA:
“Scaramucci has the same job as Valerie Jarrett had in the Obama White House. I am meeting with him to talk about Israel, about the dangers of a Palestinian state, about the extraordinary importance of moving the embassy, especially as a sign that Islamic terrorist threats will not control policy, and to talk about the Palestinian Authority’s war against Israel. I am speaking to as many Trump officials about these issues as I can. They have told me that they realize that ZOA is the Jewish organization that most promotes and reflects their views about the Arab-Islamic war against Israel. They know that almost all the other organizations support a Palestinian state, do not come out and say Jews have a right to live in Judea and Samaria. They have told me — one after another — that we are the only major Jewish group they understand reflects Trump’s views on these issues. So, they have reached out to me, they call me about Israel issues all the time, and my meeting with Scaramucci is just a continuation of a strong and enduring relationship between the Trump Administration and the ZOA and myself.”
In recent days Klein’s praise for Scaramucci was not extended to other officials in the White House. Last week his group wrote a press release calling for the resignation of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson after the State Department published a 2016 country report on terrorism. Klein blasted the report as a “bigoted, biased, anti-Semitic, Israel-hating error-ridden terrorism report,” taking aim at a clause that cited Israel for creating a “drivers of violence” among Palestinians. The exact language from the State Department report that Klein lambasted was:
“Continued drivers of violence included a lack of hope in achieving Palestinian statehood, Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount, and IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive.”