NEW YORK — Over 200 Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) activists from 15 states, including California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia, took part in ZOAs annual activist Mission to Washington on June 28-29, 2006, to urge action against US funding for the Palestinian Authority (PA); to urge action against Saudi Arabia for its support for terrorism and hatred against the West; and to urge action against Iran for its seeking to develop nuclear weapons that can threaten the US and Israel.
ZOA activists met with US Senators, House Members or their senior staff members, a psychiatrist/historian of Jewish actions and Zionist history, a leading Christian pastor, and Minister Ron Dermer, Israels Minister for Economic Affairs in the United States and co-author together with human rights activist and Knesset Member Natan Sharansky of the best-selling book, The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.
During their two days in Washington, the ZOA held 180 meetings with Members of Congress or their senior staff members.
The Mission commenced with a gala dinner on Capitol Hill, in the Cannon House Buildings Caucus Room, where the two featured speakers were Dr. Kenneth Levin, the noted author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People Under Siege; and Reverend Robert Stearns, co-founder and regional vice-president of the new pro-Israel lobby group called Christians United for Israel. Morton A. Klein, National President of ZOA, also spoke. Gene Shusman of Philadelphia and Andrea Friedman of New Jersey introduced the speakers.
Levin outlined the historical responses of Jews and other minority groups to extreme persecution and national tragedy, with emphasis on the totally mistaken idea that Israeli/Jewish actions and policies can favorably alter the conduct of anti-Semitic regimes and groups, and he described the continuation of these tragic patterns in the Oslo peace process. Stearns emphasized that the Hebrew Bible makes it clear that G-d gave all of the land of Israel to the Jews for eternity. He also stressed that the Bible states explicitly, that Those who bless the Jews will be blessed while those who curse the Jews will be cursed. He thrilled the crowd when he informed them that 2000 Christians will be joining him and other Christians leaders in Washington, D.C., on July 18 to lobby for Israel.
Klein noted ZOAs achievements on the Hill, campuses and media. He proudly talked about the recent ZOA testimony before the US Commission on Civil Rights, which helped lead to its finding that certain anti-Zionist speech and conduct can be a manifestation of Anti-Semitic bigotry and is no less morally deplorable when camouflaged as anti-Israel or anti-Zionist speech. The Civil Rights Commission also recognized that Jewish students are entitled to protection against anti-Semitic harassment under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and that universities have an obligation under the law to ensure that Jewish students are not subjected to a hostile environment.
Klein also spoke in detail about the Prisoners Document, the plan put forward for a Palestinian referendum by Palestinian Authority (PA) chief Mahmoud Abbas, highlighting its endorsement of continued terrorism against Israel, its Nazi-like legitimizing the murder of Jews who live beyond the 1967 green line, its non-acceptance of Israels existence as a Jewish state and its abrogation of Palestinian obligations under the signed Oslo agreements and the 2003 Roadmap peace plan. Klein also outlined the reasons for the ZOAs warning of the dangers behind Ehud Olmerts plan for further Israeli unilateral withdrawals as well as the correctness of the ZOAs warnings of the likely negative consequences behind last years Gaza/northern Samaria withdrawal.
The next day, Mission participants attended a memorable Capitol Hill luncheon. Eighteen legislators took part, including two senators, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). Legislators made powerful and insightful pro-Israel remarks, while praising ZOA for its role in keeping lawmakers apprized on vital issues of concern as well as their advocacy on the Hill. Legislators addressing the delegates included 9 Republicans and 9 Democrats.
Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), Chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, lauded the ZOA for the tremendous work you do, not only here in Washington, but across the country, educating people about Israel and the importance of the American-Israeli alliance.
Roy Blunt (R-MO), the House Majority Whip, paid tribute to the correctness of the ZOA past warnings on the risk of unilateral concessions to the Palestinians, saying, You were right about Gaza last year.
Cong. Ros-Lehtinen: Thanks to the ZOA, we have had a record season of passing legislation
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia , stated in her speech, I should be the one applauding you. Thanks to the ZOA, we have had a record season of passing legislation … Thanks to this organization, we got the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act.
Steve Chabot (R-OH), Vice-Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia, recalled his efforts to speak on Israels behalf at the International Court of Justice over Israels security fence, saying, Those who raise their children to be suicide bombers should be the ones hauled before the Court.
Steve Rothman (D-NY), House Assistant Democratic Whip, told the audience how grateful I am to the ZOA for being in the front-line of defense of Israel.
Shelley Berkley (D-NV) declared, I dont need to tell you about the extraordinary efforts of Mort Klein. Hes one of a kind.
Anthony Weiner (D-NY) opened with the words, I come from the ZOA wing of the Democratic Party. My thanks goes to ZOA for all you have done … We in America love the idea of the moderate Arab state. Itd be great if the unicorn existed too. If we judge people on their acts, we must support Israel. One way to support American interests is to support Israel.
Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Member of the Homeland Security Caucus, said, You cannot engage in the peace process by giving up land for peace — it will never work.
Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Assistant Whip of the House Democratic Caucus, observed, The problem is clear to anyone not blinded — the Palestinians and Arabs havent accepted the reality of Israels existence as a Jewish state. When someone wants to kill you, you have to defend yourselves. Some people do not accept Israels right to self-defense. Well a pox on them … You cannot give up territory to those who would kill you.
Steve Israel (D-NY), House Assistant Democratic Whip, observed, If we want a secure US and Israel, we need energy independence. We need to harness the entrepreneurial spirit to break our oil dependence.
Robert Andrews (D-NJ) said that the US will be tested on our posture towards the Palestinian Authority … No government that is headed by a terrorist group should have negotiations with the US and should receive no trade break or a dollar.
Elliot Engel (D-NY) said, We know Syria is complicit in terror with Hamas. We must get the President to implement all the sanctions in the Syria Accountability Act.
Trent Franks (R-AZ) said that America must help Israel defend itself and that the peace of the world is intrinsically connected to the peace of Jerusalem.
Brad Sherman (D-CA) compared the Palestinian election of Hamas to the German election of the Nazis, saying, both won election on a platform that their territory must be judenrein.
Bob Beauprez (R-CO) spoke of the need to confront Islamofacism and not appease it, like Chamberlain appeased Hitler in the 1930s, saying, When the world is tolerant to evil, invariably good people die.
Rick Renzi (R-AZ) pointed out that Hamas and Hezbollah are not merely terrorist groups attacking Israel, but constitute a front in the Islamist war on America.
Lastly, Sue Kelly (R-NY) said that, I am always going to do everything I can to support to support Israel.
In the afternoon, the ZOA activists were addressed by Israels Minister for Economic Affairs, Ron Dermer, who gave a thorough analysis of Palestinian propaganda tactics and the failure of some pro-Israeli spokesmen to point out clearly that, legally and historically, it is not case of occupation when the land in dispute is not Palestinian land, but Jewish land and was never legally controlled by any Arab state since Israel was established. If you do not have a right to Hebron, you do not have a right to Tel Aviv. Dermer added that Jewish activists should always emphasize that the 22 Arab countries are 600 times the size of Israel. He urged Israels supporters to widen the lens so that the conflict is not artificially seen as one merely between weak Palestinians and strong Israelis, but between a small democratic state trying to survive in a sea of tyrannies. Dermer also paid tribute to the ZOA — you are not Jews who bend their knees. When we really need you, we know that you will be standing at our side. He also called upon other Jewish organizations to join the ZOA in making a strong public statement against Abbas Prisoners Document.
In their meetings with Members of Congress, the ZOA activists agenda included:
- Urging Members to support the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act to ban direct US aid to any Palestinian entity or agency controlled by Hamas or any other terrorist group and to also place benchmarks on any indirect assistance. In an upcoming House/Senate conference committee on this legislation, the ZOA urged support for the stronger House version of the bill. It currently has 88 co-sponsors in the Senate, led by Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and 295 co-sponsors in the House, led by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
- Urging Members to support the Saudi Arabia Accountability Act (S.1171/H.R.2037), which would impose sanctions unless the Saudis stop supporting extremist Wahhabi education in mosques throughout the world, stop funding terrorist groups and fully cooperate with US efforts against terrorism. It currently has 14 co-sponsors in the Senate, led by Arlen Specter (R-PA), and 59 in the House, led by Anthony Weiner (D-NY).
- Urging Members to support the Iran Freedom Support Act, which holds the current Iranian regime accountable for attempting to develop nuclear weapons that can threaten the US and Israel, by imposing sanctions on companies that invest in Irans energy sector. It currently has 61 co-sponsors in the Senate, led by Rick Santorum (R-PA) and 360 in the House, led by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
ZOA activists also explained to their Members of Congress the reasons for ZOAs opposition to the Olmert governments plan to give away over 90% of Judea and Samaria to the Hamas terrorist regime while forcibly removing 80,000 Jewish men, women and children from their homes and why it also harms US interests in the region and the US war against terrorism. ZOA also pointed out that recent polls show that over 70% of Israelis oppose the plan, understanding it will reward terrorism, encourage more terrorism, and bring terrorists closer to Israels major population centers.