Posted by: Morton A. Klein
January 9, 2002
News

ZOA Urges Dismissal Of Ambassador Kurtzer For Having Interfered In Israel’s Internal Affairs


NEW YORK – The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is calling for the dismissal of the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, because of his gross interference in Israel’s internal affairs.

Kurtzer publicly denounced the Israeli government, saying “instead of taking are of the disabled and or economic development, Israel is investing in Jewish settlements, which should be dismantled.” (Washington Times, Jan. 9, 2002) Kurtzer’s statement was an inappropriate attempt to dictate Israel’s internal budgetary policies.

The ZOA notes that Kurtzer has not yet called on the Palestinian Authority to spend money on domestic needs instead of weapons, such as the 80 tons of weapons on the PA “ship of terror” that Israel recently intercepted. Likewise, when Kurtzer was U.S. ambassador to Egypt, he never publicly called on Egypt to spend money on domestic needs instead of weapons.

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said: “For Ambassador Kurtzer to make such a statement, at a time when Arafat is bringing in massive quantities of weapons in order to murder Jews, and there is constant terrorism against the Jews of Israel, can only give comfort to Arafat’s killers by helping to distract attention from their arms-smuggling and murder raids.”

On the same day that Kurtzer made his remarks about Israeli government funding for the disabled, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling narrowing America’s own Disabilities Act, thus reducing the amount of money disabled Americans receive. Would the Bush administration consider it appropriate for the Israeli ambassador in Washington to publicly denounce the Supreme Court’s decision?

The ZOA notes that this is just the latest in along series of incidents in which Kurtzer has made inappropriate statements that have antagonized Jewish leaders in America and Israel:

* The Labor government’s ambassador to Washington, Itamar Rabinovich, has described a “stormy dispute” between Kurtzer and the head of Israel’s negotiating team, in which “Kurtzer thought that Israel was not going far enough with the Palestinians. There were sharp exchanges between them [and Kurtzer] rebuked” the Israeli negotiators. (Ha’aretz, April 6, 2001)

* Kurtzer had a “vocal conflict” with an Israeli government official in Philadelphia in the summer of 1990, after Kurtzer “attacked the Israeli government for refusing to include the PLO in the peace process [and] said that this constituted the main obstacle to peace.” (Ha’aretz, April 6, 2001)

* In August 2001, Kurtzer publicly criticized Israel for striking at Abu Ali Mustafa, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), which over the years has murdered at least 14 American citizens and numerous Israelis. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations issued a statement on August 28, 2001 saying it was “surprised and dismayed” that Kurtzer “felt compelled to raise the issue with Prime Minister Sharon,” yet “We did not hear of any similar actions when American citizens were the victims of terror attacks over the past few months. Indeed, just hours Kurtzer’s statement, an American Jew, Ben Dansker, was shot and wounded by Arafat’s terrorists near the town of Rogalit—yet Kurtzer made no statement about the attack.

* Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has said: “Kurtzer frequently pressured Israel to make one-sided concessions to the Arabs; he constantly blamed Israel for the absence of Mideast peace, and paid little or no attention to the fact that the Palestinians were carrying out terrorist attacks and openly calling for the destruction of Israel.”

* Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “has said more than once that with Jews like Kurtzer, it is impossible to build a healthy relationship between Israel and the United States.” (Ha’aretz, April 6, 2001)

* Morris Amitay, former executive director of AIPAC, has said: “Kurtzer has a track record of pushing for Palestinian rights. He will use his Jewishness as a protective cover for his anti-Israel views.” (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, March 29, 2001)

* “Possibly more than any other U.S. State Department official, Kurtzer has been instrumental in promoting the goals of the Palestinians and in raising their afflictions to the center of the U.S. policymakers’ agenda,” according to the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot on Aug. 9, 1991. “Kurtzer’s poor relations with Jerusalem’s political bureaus reached a new climax” in 1990, when he authored a speech by James Baker strongly criticizing Israel, which was delivered at an AIPAC coference, “causing a commotion among the conference participants…A Jewish community leader told Kurtzer [shorty afterwards], ‘Your children will bear the consequences of the Israeli policy you are encouraging.’”