ZOA Honors Zionist Martin Luther King, Zionist & Fierce Critic of Anti-Semitism
April 4, 2008

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) pays tribute today, the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of civil rights activist and hero, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, for his fierce criticism of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism and support for Israel.

Martin Luther King on Jews and Israel:

  • “When people criticize Zionists they mean Jews, you are talking anti-Semitism” (Quoted by Rep. John Lewis, who worked with King, San Francisco Chronicle, January 21, 2002).
  • “I cannot stand idly by, even though I happen to live in the United States and even though I happen to be an American Negro and not be concerned about what happens to the Jews in Soviet Russia. For what happens to them happens to me and you, and we must be concerned” (Quoted by Rep. John Lewis, who worked with King, San Francisco Chronicle, January 21, 2002)
  • “I could not have supported any resolution calling for black separatism or calling for a condemnation of Israel and an unqualified endorsement of the policy of the Arab powers … Israel’s right to exist as a state is incontestable …At the same time the great powers have the obligation to recognize that the Arab world is in a state of imposed poverty and backwardness that must threaten peace and harmony … some Arab feudal rulers are no less concerned for oil wealth and neglect the plight of their own peoples.” (Letter to Adolph Held, president, Jewish Labor Committee, September 1967).
  • “Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality” (March 25, 1968 speech to the Rabbinical Assembly, less than two weeks before his death).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We honor Martin Luther King, who steadfastly and consistently sought justice and equality, not separatism and hatred. It is little surprise that Rev. Dr. King fully appreciated the miraculous rebirth of Israel, defended the right of Jews to their own country and did not embrace the doctrines of hatred, resentment, violence and terrorism that were taken up by black supremacists and other movements around the world.”

“We feel confident that Rev. Dr. King would have rejected the notion that some, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have expressed that the Palestinian movement is in any way similar to the African-American civil rights movement. Not only is the Palestinian movement dedicated to dismembering Israel, something King would have found abhorrent, but it uses all the strategies he utterly repudiated in his own life and movement – terrorism, violence and incitement to hatred and murder. Martin Luther King did not call terrorists ‘heroes.’ He did not call terrorist chieftains ‘martyrs.’  He did not call upon his followers to direct their guns at their enemies. He did not appoint terrorists to his security detail. He did not give shelter to wanted murderers in his residence. The Palestinians, including the allegedly ‘moderate’ Mahmoud Abbas, have done all these things. Martin Luther King’s example reminds us of the nature and wisdom of true moderation and peace-making.”




  • Center for Law & Justice
    We work to educate the American public and Congress about legal issues in order to advance the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
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