Over 1000 people attended the Zionist Organization of America’s gala dinner on Sunday evening at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Manhattan, but Trump’s chief strategist Stephen Bannon was not among them.
ZOA had been one of two Jewish organizations to endorse Bannon’s appointment as chief strategist.
Morton Klein, ZOA’s president, told JTA that although Bannon had not originally been invited to the dinner, he had requested to attend.
“Of course, an important guy like him says he wants to come, I say yes,” Klein told JTA.
Following Bannon’s request, the ZOA publicized that he would attend the dinner, which was attended by politicians from Israel and the United States. Among the attendees was Jason Dov Greenblatt, Israel adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, Danny Danon, the Israeli ambassador to the UN, and Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett. The ZOA honored Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, among others, at the dinner and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, gave a speech via video.
According to Times of Israel, prior to the event approximately 3,000 American Jews signed a petition organized by the New Israel Fund condemning Bannon’s expected appearance at the ZOA gala.
Hundreds of protesters reportedly gathered outside the hotel during the gala, led by calls from If Not Now and T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. Protesters held signs with “Never Again Is Now” and “We Stand Up Against Hate,” according to CBS News. Many demanded Bannon’s appointment be rescinded. On social media, protesters shared photos and videos using the hashtag “#JewishResistance.”
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Although the crowd was reportedly dispersed by police after an hour, protesters took the protest around the block and to the stairs of the New York Public Library.
It is unclear whether these protests were the reason behind Bannon’s absence, although Klein told the Jewish Insider that he did not know why Bannon did not attend.