ZOA’s Morton A. Klein answers the question: How can you claim to be the leader of Zionist Americans when your beliefs are so much to the right of the Jewish community?
ZOA in the news
December 20, 2007

Below is the third in a series question posed by Shmuel Rosner of Haaretz, one of Israel’s leading newspapers, to Morton A. Klein, President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), and Mr. Klein’s answer. These are part of a week-long series of questions and answers, between that newspaper and Morton Klein, which may be found on http://www.haaretz.com/ under the section called “Rosner’s Domain.”

[A question asked by a reader:] I wanted to say that your ideas do not represent those of most Israelis and Jewish Americans. How can you claim to be the leader of Zionist Americans when your beliefs are so much to the right of the Jewish community?

It is untrue that most Israelis and Jewish Americans do not share ZOA’s views. Numerous poll results demonstrate this clearly:

Jewish American views:

  • The 2007 American Jewish Committee poll showed that 55 percent of American Jews don’t believe that current negotiations can lead to peace, only 36 percent are hopeful. It showed 58 percent of American Jews reject Israeli concessions on Jerusalem, even in context of permanent peace; only 36 percent support the idea. It showed 81 percent of American Jews agree that “The goal of the Arabs is not the return of occupied territories but rather the destruction of Israel.” Also, less than half (46 percent) support the creation of a Palestinian state.

  • A March 2007 McLaughlin and Associates poll shows that non-Jewish Americans as well, by a margin of 5 to 1, oppose Israel land concession to the Palestinian Arabs and by 2 to 1, believe that a Palestinian state will be a terrorist state, not a peaceful democracy.

Israeli views:

  • An October 2007 Brains’ Trust (Maagar Mochot) Research Institute poll shows 53 percent of Israelis oppose U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority (PA), only 16 percent support it.

  • An October 2007 Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research and the Evens Program in Mediation and Conflict Resolution of Tel Aviv University poll has shown that a clear majority of Jewish Israelis — 59 percent to 33 percent — oppose, even in return for a peace agreement, Israel handing over to the PA various Arab neighborhoods in the eastern half of Jerusalem.

  • A May 2007 Dahaf Institute poll for the Knesset Channel found 68 percent of Israelis oppose withdrawing from the Golan Heights and that 53 percent oppose withdrawals from Judea and Samaria, in both cases, even in return for a “real peace.”

  • A March 2007 INSS (previously Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies) poll showed that 72 percent of Israelis oppose uprooting Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and 71 percent believe that the Palestinian Arabs’ goal is destroying Israel, not a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel. It also showed only 28 percent of Israelis support the ‘land for peace’ formula, 58 percent oppose it.

All these majority positions are also the positions supported by ZOA.

It’s also interesting to note that ZOA supported adherence to the Oslo agreements more than the “mainstream” Jewish and left-wing groups. We insisted on the PA’s fulfillment of their obligations to prevent terrorism, arrest terrorists, confiscate illegal weapons and end incitement, while the others ignored these obligations and pushed for Israeli concessions no matter what the Palestinians did.

The ZOA gained credibility and a significant following because, among major groups, we alone were correct in warning that the Oslo agreements, trusting Arafat and retreating from Gaza would lead to disaster. The U.S. and Israel should have made it clear that there would be no concessions to the PA unless it honored these agreements.

In fact, ZOA positions are more representative of Israeli and American Jewish views than virtually all other American Jewish organizations. The question should be asked, “Why are the other major American Jewish organizations taking positions at odds with the views of the majority of Israeli and American Jews?”

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The Zionist Organization of America, founded in 1897, is the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations, educates the American public and Congress about the dangers that Israel faces, and combats anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses. Its past presidents have included Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis and Rabbi Dr. Abba Hillel Silver. 

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