August 14, 2017
News Press Release

ZOA’s Klein Agrees to Amb. Friedman’s Request- Listen to Concerns About ZOA Opposition to McMaster/Tillerson Policies and Actions

Photo Credit: cc Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP

ZOA president Morton A Klein released the following statement:

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman has written to the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) of his concerns about the ZOA’s opposition to National Security Council Chair Lt. General H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s actions and policy positions on Israel, Iran, and radical Islamic terrorism.  

In a letter to ZOA president Morton A Klein, Amb. Friedman wrote, “Dear Mort, As you know, I have the highest regard for the work of ZOA and for you personally. I am constrained to point out, however, my belief that ZOA was mistaken in its recent call for the resignation or reassignment of two people with whom I work closely, Secretary Tillerson and General McMaster…”

It’s revealing that many extreme anti-Israel, pro-Iran Deal leftists defend McMaster while many who are strongly pro-Israel, anti-Iran Deal criticize him.

ZOA admires and respects Amb. Friedman as a brilliant, clear thinking, and courageous supporter of a strong America and of a strong and mutually beneficial US-Israel relationship. Amb. Friedman’s love of America, Israel and the Jewish people are unassailable. That’s why I and ZOA unequivocally and publicly supported Amb. Friedman’s nomination from the very beginning while others were wrongly silent or critical.

Amb. Friedman has in writing and by phone informed me that he disagrees with ZOA’s concerns about McMaster/Tillerson and would like to “attempt to convince” me that we should change our position and is hoping I “will keep an open mind.”

I told Amb. Friedman that, of course, I and we at ZOA welcome any new or different information or thoughts or opinions that the Ambassador might have or has that we need to and will consider. I’m always happy to do that especially when that request comes from someone who is an American patriot who loves Israel and shows great concern for innocent Palestinian Arabs and pursues peace with the lucidity and knowledge and wisdom that Amb. Friedman displays.

ZOA’s concerns about General McMaster stems from many issues including his firing Trump loyalists who support Israel and oppose the Iran Deal; his hiring many who oppose Trump’s policies especially on Israel and Iran; his refusal to acknowledge that the Western Wall is in Israel; his refusal to state that Israel’s response to the terrorist group Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel was “ethical”: his refusal to acknowledge that Iran has violated the Iran Deal; his refusal to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism,” and much more.

ZOA points out it’s revealing, troubling and illuminating that extreme leftists that are hostile to Israel and Trump have defended McMaster, yet never defended David Friedman when he was mercilessly, relentlessly and wrongly being attacked by left wing people and groups hostile to Israel. And the strong critics of McMaster are the strongest pro-Israel supporters and the strongest opponents of the Iran Deal and Radical Islamic terrorism, namely Caroline Glick of the Jerusalem Post, Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, Shillman Fellow Daniel Greenfield, and ZOA’s Morton Klein, among others.

Supporters of McMaster include the radical Islamic anti-Israel group CAIR, left wing, Trump-hating, Soros-funded anti Israel group Media Matters, anti-Israel TV commentator Van Jones and others. CAIR was formally an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land  Foundation trial and Hamas financing case that resulted in the FBI discontinuing working with CAIR. CAIR has tried to end any discussion by calling those opposed to McMaster  “Islamophobes and White Supremacists,” while stating nothing of substance. Van Jones has been harshly critical of Israel. He signed a letter calling on Pres. Obama to “impose a final settlement” on Israel backed by sanctions. Van Jones supports the “right of return of the Palestinian people” which would destroy Israel as a Jewish State. And he  clearly opposes Israel’s very existence by condemning in 2002 its “occupation for 54 years,” meaning since Israel’s reestablishment in 1948! Moreover, Jones also, on CNN, tried to end any discussion of criticism of McMaster by calling his critics “the dirty right” without offering any substantive issues. And Democrat Dan Shapiro, far left wing Obama appointment as Ambassador to Israel, has defended Trump appointee McMaster by going on a name calling rampage of McMaster critics with virtually no facts. Yet, he never defended David Friedman when his nomination was bitterly attacked by extremists. One should recall that Shapiro, as a top Aide to Senator Feinstein strongly urged and supported including a security waiver in the 1995 Jerusalem Bill to move the Embassy there- thereby making it possible to stop this most appropriate relocation even when passed by overwhelming numbers in the House and Senate. (In terms of full disclosure I must state that because Dan Shapiro, with whom I had many long respectful debates on Obama’s harsh policies on Israel, pleaded with me to endorse him for US Ambassador, I reluctantly agreed with the qualification in a strong public statement that I disagreed with most of his Israel positions.)

ZOA’s concerns about Secretary Tillerson stem from the vicious anti-Israel State Dept. Report that he recently allowed to be released and then had his spokesperson strongly and fully defend this anti-Israel, even anti-Semitic Report. We were also deeply troubled by, among other things, Tillerson referring to Tel Aviv as “the Home of Judaism” when of course it’s Jerusalem; referring to “Palestine” when there is no such State at this point; refusing to take a position on Jerusalem as the Capitol of Israel.  

Despite all our deep concerns based on the facts, I and ZOA will be happy to respectfully listen to and read any information or insights on this issue that Ambassador Friedman wishes to share.