Stephen Bannon a no-show at Zionist Organization of America dinner

Ben Sales

NEW YORK (JTA) — Stephen Bannon, a senior adviser to Donald Trump, did not go to a dinner hosted by the Zionist Organization of America, which had publicized his intention to attend.

Bannon, appointed last week as chief strategist to President-elect Donald Trump, is the former chairman of Breitbart News, a website Bannon called “the platform for the alt-right,” a loose movement of the far-right whose followers traffic variously in white nationalism, anti-immigration sentiment, anti-Semitism and a disdain for “political correctness.”

Bannon has said that he is not an anti-Semite and does not support white nationalism, but is rather an “economic nationalist” who opposes globalism.

ZOA, a right-wing pro-Israel group, is one of two Jewish organizations to endorse Bannon’s appointment, citing Breitbart’s pro-Israel views. A handful of Jewish groups have opposed his appointment, including the Anti-Defamation League, the Reform and Conservative movements and a coalition of 12 left-wing groups.

ZOA had publicized that Bannon would attend the dinner, which was attended by politicians from Israel and the United States, as well as hundreds of guests. But as of 9 p.m., as the dinner was wrapping up, Bannon had not arrived.

Mort Klein, ZOA’s president, told JTA Bannon was never offered an official invitation, but rather had asked the group if he could attend the dinner.

“He asked us to come,” Klein said. “We never invited him. Of course, an important guy like him says he wants to come, I say yes.”

Outside the dinner, a protest of Bannon and the ZOA organized by IfNotNow, a Jewish group that opposes the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, drew several hundred people. The protest was dispersed shortly after arriving at the dinner’s location, and continued in a nearby park.

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