August 1, 2017
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ZOA Replies to State Dept. Response to ZOA’s Criticism of Terrorism Report

Rex Tillerson Official Portrait

Zionist Organization of America President Morton A. Klein released the following response to the U.S. State Department spokesperson’s comments at the U.S. State Department’s July 25, 2017 press briefing:

Last week, ZOA carefully detailed the anti-Israel biases and falsehoods in the State Department’s “Country Reports on Terrorism 2016” (issued July 2017) and called for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to resign.  (See Major ZOA Monograph Condemning Anti-Semitic New Tillerson State Dept. Report – ZOA Calls for Sec’y of State Tillerson’s Resignation,” July 24, 2017; and related Op ed and JTA article.)

At the State Department’s press briefing on July 25th, the press asked for comments about ZOA’s criticisms of the State Department terrorism report and ZOA’s call for Secretary Tillerson’s resignation.  The press quoted ZOA’s statement that the State Department terrorism report was “bigoted, biased, anti-Semitic, Israel-hating, and error-ridden.”  In response, the State Dept. spokesperson said that Sec’y Tillerson will remain there, and tried to whitewash the State Department’s report, by saying: “in that report we consistently highlight terror attacks perpetuated against Israelis – and I’m just talking about the Israel portion – because this is a worldwide report.  Those terror attacks that are perpetuated against Israelis by Hamas and others. There is no justification – and we will say that time and time again – there is no justification for any acts of terrorism.

The press quoted ZOA’s statement that the State Department terrorism report was “bigoted, biased, anti-Semitic, Israel-hating, and error-ridden.”

In fact, instead of “highlighting” Palestinian Arab terror attacks against Israelis, the State Department terrorism report woefully under-reports the number of Israelis murdered by Palestinian Arab terrorists – falsely claiming that only 5 were killed in 2016 – when the real numbers murdered were four times as many, and in fact Palestinian Arab terrorists murdered 52 Jews and Americans and wounded 789 Jews, etc. since the beginning of an ongoing deadly wave of terror in September 2015.  

And instead of “highlighting” Palestinian Arab terror attacks against Israelis, the State Department terrorism report highlighted and outrageously exaggerated incidents of Jewish teenagers painting graffiti – and made it seem as if there were more anti-Arab incidents than Palestinian Arab terrorism against Jews. 

ZOA of course agrees with the State Department’s press spokesperson that there is “no justification for any acts of terrorism.”  But unfortunately, that’s not what the State Department Terrorism Report says.  As it now stands, the State Department terrorism report wrongly says that the “drivers” of Palestinian Arab terrorism against Jews are “lack of hope in achieving statehood” (although Palestinian Arabs repeatedly rejected generous statehood offers in 2000, ’01, ’08); “Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank” (an excuse that says the very presence of Jews living in the historic, legally designated Jewish homeland justifies killing Jews); “settler violence” (although this is virtually non-existent); “the perception that the Israeli government was changing the status quo on the Haram Al Sharif/Temple Mount” (although Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abbas’s “filthy feet” incitement caused this false “perception”); and “IDF tactics that the Palestinians considered overly aggressive” (although IDF anti-terrorism methods are humane, reasonable and necessary steps such as weapons checkpoints and arresting murderers).

Alarmingly, the State Department terrorism report never even mentions that the PA pays terrorists to murder Jews – and re-characterizes the PA’s heinous payments as helpful “financial packages to Palestinian security prisoners . . . to reintegrate them into society.”  And the report falsely asserts that explicit PA calls for violence are “rare” and that the PA “leadership generally does not tolerate it” – an utter lie and whitewash of the fact PA President Abbas has been inciting the ongoing deadly knife and ramming attacks on Jews by repeatedly rebroadcasting his Islamist call to spill blood to prevent Jews’ and Christians’ “filthy feet” from “defiling” Jewish and Christian sites in Jerusalem, that the Muslims are claiming as their own. 

As Congressman Peter Roskam (R-IL) wrote in his July 20th letter to Tillerson, the State Department terrorism report’s assertions that PA calls for terror are “rare” is “demonstrably false.”  As Congressman Roskam wrote:

The State Department report includes multiple findings that are both inaccurate and harmful to combating Palestinian terrorism . . . At the highest level, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership incites, rewards, and, in some cases, carries out terrorist attacks against innocent Israelis.  In order to effectively combat terrorism, it is imperative that the United States accurately characterize its root cause – PA leadership. . . .”

The State Department terrorism report cannot be cured by whitewashing what it says at a press conference.  The State Department must amend the report – as ZOA and Congressman Roskam have demanded.