Hundreds Of ZOA Activists On Capitol Hill: Urge Pressure On PA’s Abbas To Rescind Fatah’s Pro-Terror Constitution, Sanctions on Iran & Saudi Arabia
June 30, 2008

Fmr. Defense Under-Secretary Feith & 40 Congress Members

spoke at ZOA Mission



Hundreds of Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) activist from 15 states, including dozens of students, took part in ZOA’s annual activist Mission to Washington, D.C., on June 25-26 to urge Members of Congress to support American pressure on Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party to abrogate its Constitution calling for the destruction of Israel, the use of terror and calling Zionism racism; to support legislation imposing further sanctions on Iran as pressure to end its nuclear weapons program; and to support legislation to pressure Saudi Arabia to drop all governmental and private funding for terrorism and for Wahhabi pro-terror, anti-Western mosques around the world.


During the Mission, ZOA activists met with U.S. Senators, House Members and their senior staff members, and heard addresses from former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, Douglas Feith, and American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar, Dr. Michael Ledeen. During their two days in Washington, the ZOA held almost 200 meetings with Members of Congress and their senior staff members, while 40 Congress Members (19 Democrats, 21 Republicans) attended the ZOA Mission Luncheon on Capitol Hill.


The Mission commenced with a gala dinner at the luxurious Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, where Dr. Michael Ledeen, a contributing editor to National Review who once served as Special Adviser to Secretary of State Alexander Haig, spoke about his newly published book, The Iranian Time Bomb, dealing with the burgeoning threat of the Iranian regime obtaining nuclear weapons. Dr. Ledeen, who is the author of more than a dozen books and was also a founding member of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), spoke of the apocalyptic goals of the Iranian regime and the war it has waged on America and the West for nearly three decades. He also observed that, just as the world had ignored in the 1930s Nazi threats to the West and declared intentions to exterminate Jews, here too, the West is ignoring the plain, repeated warnings to the West and declarations about obliterating Israel from the Iranian regime today.


Dr. Ledeen concluded that the Bush Administration lacked sufficient willpower to strike militarily upon the Iranian nuclear weapons program sites and doubted whether Israel would do so under its current government. Dr. Ledeen’s riveting and brilliant analysis was enthusiastically received by the assembled delegates.


In his remarks at the Dinner, ZOA National President, Morton A. Klein, spoke about the success of the ZOA in influencing the agenda of the pro-Israel community to work for greater pressure on the PA and Israel’s other enemies in the Middle East. He noted that at the recent AIPAC Policy Conference, ZOA succeeded in putting on the AIPAC action agenda the issue of getting Mahmoud Abbas to abrogate the Fatah Constitution. Mr. Klein noted that AIPAC had adopted 9 out of 14 resolutions advanced by ZOA. Mr. Klein also described in detail the history of Zionism in America, showing that American leaders supported the re-establishment of Israel from the dawn of America‘s own establishment. He also spoke of the (often entirely false) claims made against the ZOA in the anti-Semitic tract of John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt on the pro-Israeli lobby. Mr. Klein also refutes with precision and facts the attack upon ZOA in a recent issue of the left-wing journal, The Nation, which criticized ZOA efforts to deal with anti-Semitism at University of California Irvine. He also argued strongly that Abbas and the PA are not interested in peace, citing the recent Fatah 43rd anniversary poster, which included a map of Israel named ‘Palestine’ and covered by a kfiyyeh (Palestinian Arab headdress), a Kalashnikov rifle, and a photo of Yasser Arafat; the three days of mourning and PA flags flown at half-mast in honor of Palestinian terrorist chieftain and pioneer of airplane hijackings and airport massacres, George Habash; and Abbas’ own interview in the Jordanian publication, al-Dustur, in which Abbas frankly admitted that he didn’t support terrorism now merely for tactical reasons but might support terrorism again if it suited Palestinian objectives.


Former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith delivered a powerful and insightful address to the ZOA Mission the next afternoon. Mr. Feith, who previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy and as Middle East specialist on the National Security Council, is the author of the recently-published War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism. In his address, Mr. Feith spoke about working inside the Bush Administration at the time of the September 11, 2001 mass casualty terror attacks upon New York City and Washington, D.C. He explained the profound ramifications of those attacks, differing from past terror attacks that aimed for symbolism and spectacle but rarely mass casualties, that led the Bush Administration to target the network of Islamist terror groups seeking to carry out similar and even worse attacks upon America. The subsequent Iraq war, Mr. Feith indicated, served the purpose of preventing Saddam Hussein’s regime from developing weapons of mass destruction which he could then pass on to terror groups, many of which were based in his country. Feith pointed out that even if Saddam Hussein did not have in hand weapons of mass destruction, he had created the capacity for manufacturing them within 3-5 weeks of a decision to make them, thus disposing of the flawed argument that the absence of actual weapons of mass destruction in Saddam’s hands invalidated the case for removing his regime. Mr. Feith also signed copies of his book for delegates following his presentation.


On June 26, Mission participants attended a memorable Capitol Hill Luncheon attended by 40 Senators and Congress Members. Legislators both Democratic and Republican, made powerful and insightful pro-Israel remarks, while praising ZOA for its role in keeping lawmakers apprised of vital issues of concern as well as their advocacy on the Hill.


Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) spoke glowingly of ZOA’s work on Capitol Hill and said that that influence “didn’t just happen. It happens because of the hard work that you did … Iran is the most dangerous country. We can show no weakness in what we do. We must make sure that Iran never becomes a nuclear power … We must make sure that countries that do not denounce violence against Israel have no support for the United States.”


Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), House Republican Minority Leader, spoke of the improving situation in Iraq but cautioned that Iranian influence is still strong in the Middle East before adding that “Israel is our only true friend in the Middle East and what I and my colleagues have done is worked to improve that relationship.”


Rep. Roy Blunt (R-MO), the House Minority Whip, praised ZOA, saying, “ZOA is leading the way and AIPAC is following behind. This is the oldest organization to promote a Jewish state. Thank you for your efforts … The U.S. Congress has been and will be, with your encouragement, a pro-Israel organization.” Rep. Blunt also spoke appreciatively of a conversation he had had with Mort Klein at the home of Israeli ambassador, Sallai Meridor,  in which Mort had broached the issue of the unchanged Fatah Constitution.


Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the Republican Ranking Member on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, informed delegates that she had the great privilege of leaving for Israel the very next day and said how important it was to encourage all Americans to visit Israel. “I tell Americans all the time it is safe to travel there and spend their dollars there … I want to reaffirm that this Congress, both Republican and Democrat, stand firm on Israel’s right to exist and Israel’s right to defend itself.” She also condemned Fatah for “calling for negotiations through one side of its mouth while calling for Israel‘s destruction through the other side of its mouth.”  Rep. Ros-Lehtinen also spoke cogently of the need for legislation aimed at preventing countries like Iran and Syria from obtaining more money and materiel for their destructive activities.


Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV), reminded her audience that she herself is a ZOA member – “I will leave Mort my membership check and if I don’t he’ll find me.” Rep. Berkley thanked ZOA for honoring her last year  before recounting her meeting with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the time of last year’s Annapolis summit in which she repudiated the pressure being put on Israel: “I said, ‘With all due respect, Madame Secretary, I think this a big mistake. How can you expect Israel to sit down at a negotiating table when you have to provide a separate entrance for Arab leaders so they can avoid shaking hands with Israelis? I told her that the idea of selling the Saudis, the biggest exporters and financiers of terror bar none $20 billion of weapons systems seems like the height of insanity to me … The policy of this Administration in its last months is  detrimental to Israel and the survival of my people. You do not force Israel to negotiate with people who do not accept their right to exist.’ Never did I believe we would be calling Fatah a moderate organization.”


Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) opened by saying that “It is a pleasure to be here with the oldest Zionist organization in America and perhaps the most effective. On Iran, Rep. Sherman declared, “Do not ask who hates Ahmadinejad – ask who will stand up to entrenched corporate interests and tell them that they cannot invest in Iran and do business.”


Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) said in praise of Mort Klein that “even when people want to attack him, he plunges forward and continues to do what’s right … Support for Israel in Congress is strong and bipartisan, and so it should be, and we have to work to keep to that way … I ask my colleagues, I want to know, when the chips are down, are you going to push Israel to make concession that endanger it? And if Israel is going to take risks for peace, what are the risks the other side is going to take? … Jerusalem is Israel‘s undivided capital and the U.S. will stand firmly with its important ally. I don’t want to be even-handed – I want the United States to be squarely with our allies who shares our values and concerns … We must be resolute in telling countries that do support terrorism that we will not accept you developing nuclear weapons.”


Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC) spoke of his strong friendship for Israel and the inability of people who had not visited Israel, as he has done, to see the profound threats Israel deals with on a daily basis.


Rep. Robert Wittman (R-VA) praised ZOA for furthering the U.S.-Israeli relationship, saying, “For over a hundred years, the Zionist Organization of America has been one of the most effective voices in America” for that U.S.-Israeli relationship based on “friendship, cooperation and democracy.” He also praised Israel for not hesitating to strike the Syrian nuclear reactor and that America deeply appreciated this timely act.


Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) stressed the importance of Israel and the U.S. remaining “steadfast allies” and reminisced on his first visit to Israel which brought Israel‘s democratic virtues and its challenges into incredible focus. He said Israel has shown immense patience under such security hardship and encouraged ZOA to “continue your job educating every American and every elected official so that they recognize the importance of the relationship and the importance of maintain that relationship.”


Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) also recalled her stay in Israel at a kibbutz and stressed that “the United States receives more from Israel than Israel receives from us. It is our greatest friend, not only in the Middle East region, but in the world that we have. I believe our nation is blessed if we bless Israel.”


Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz (D-FL) commended ZOA on its work saying, “I can’t express to you how imperative it is that you make these trips to Washington. What is happening in Israel can only be expressed by you and is a tremendous help to us in the U.S. Congress.”


Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) commenced with his customary greeting that he “represents the ZOA wing of the Democratic Party” before calling for stronger American-Israeli ties and joint efforts in the war on Islamism, saying, “One of the ways we say ‘G-d Bless America’ is saying ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ – when we advocate for a safe Israel, we strengthen America.” Rep Weiner also argued that “We cannot continue the folly of saying that we give aid [to the PA] because it’s a good thing to do … It hasn’t proved to be the case .. Has the PA got a more pro-American policy, a more pro-peace policy? … we are not going to get any change in Palestinian policies until we show that we are serious and that our aid doesn’t come out of a faucet. Why also in heavens’ name do we provide so much money to Egypt when it’s arming itself like this? Who are they planning to fight? Keep giving them aid, but let’s not give them another dime of military aid. We have to stop worshipping at the altar of the ‘moderate’ Arab state.”


Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) spoke of the urgent need for further American-Israeli cooperation in the defense sphere, especially on perfecting the Arrow missile system, which he viewed last year in Israel before observing that the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in 1943 marked the beginning of the end of the era of Jewish defenselessness that had been the case since the fall of Masada and that “We should offer our prayers for the peace of Jerusalem, peace through strength.”


Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL) told of the great honor of having been accompanied to Israel for the first time by leading ZOA supporter, Harvey Friedman. “One of the greatest leaders of all time Menachem Begin said that after 1900 yrs of achieving the seemingly impossible but inevitable dream of return to the promised land, the only thing that ultimately matters is defense – the ability to defend yourself. Let me level with you – I am very concerned about the historical moment in which we are living about the security of the United States and very imminently, the state of Israel … If Israel finds it needs to act and attack the dictatorship in Iran, this Member of Congress will be with you.”


Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) said “I remember when it was just you and a handful of people involved – so I want to say congratulations, Mort, in what you’ve done for building up your organization and bringing so many people onto the Hill. Israel‘s enemies are not America‘s friends and we need to stand by Israel‘s side and to make sure that we are safe and secure and that Israel is safe and secure.”


Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) spoke of his efforts to cut off federal funds to former President Jimmy Carter’s Carter Center and said that “unfortunately, Israel has been learning from its beginning that when you’re dealing with a nutcase, appeasement doesn’t work. Appeasement does not work; some people think that Israel’s enemies can be sweet-talked into loving America or Israel, but we have no reason to speak to anyone who doesn’t say as a precondition that Israel has right to exist in peace. Even if you’re a former pres, you do not talk to these slime bags. America will be there to support Israel no matter, to whatever extent, to help Israel defend itself.”


Rep. Christopher Shays (R-CT) said of his experience as the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs that “I don’t know how you can be pro-Israel and believe that you can leave Iraq prematurely, with 10-15% of world’s oil and say to Iran ‘Don’t go in’. How can you take off the table military action in Iran and expect them to change like Jimmy Carter did with the hostage crisis in 1979. The hostages were only released when Ronald Reagan as president-elect said that ‘I think it is an act of war against our country.'” He also commended President Bush’s speech to the Knesset in which he said that ‘You are not a nation of 7 million, you are 307 million strong.'”


Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) stated that “Israel is not a party issue; it is a people issue and we have to be totally united … I support the right to self-defense of Israel and any other people, I will support that right. Let me tell you something. Our best friend and ally in the world since 1948 has been the state of Israel. It just bothers me that every time we give aid to Israel we have to give a similar amount of aid to Egypt – I don’t like that. I salute your determination to keep the promised land free. If Israel ever needs help, the Texans will be there and we’ll bring our own guns.”


Rep. Sue Myrick (R-NC) spoke of her work sponsoring legislation to deny former President Jimmy Carter his passport before praising the ZOA, saying, “Your dedication and commitment is part of what makes everything happen for Israel on the Hill. Keep up the good work… I am very concerned about Iran, they are more dangerous than any others. We cannot allow Hizballah to take over Lebanon.”


Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL) declared that “I am very proud to say as an American that we stand with Israel … It is important that we have friends who share our values … Iran is funding Hamas, arming Hizballah, re-arming Hamas – Iran has its fingerprints on everything. It must be stopped. We cannot afford Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, not only for Israel, but for the United States. The sooner we take oil off the table as a major commodity, the sooner Israel and America will be safer.”


Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) said that “It’s never been more important for ZOA to be as you are, an advocate of state of Israel. I was shocked by the 2006 Lebanon war and rocket attacks from Gaza and how the U.S. media is covering this … I take very seriously the threat of Al Qaeda’s Zawahiri, who two months ago discussed a plan whose fourth item was eliminating Israel.


Rep. Peter King (R-NY) spoke of the ZOA as being “essential for the political process. No one is a stronger or more vibrant advocate for Israel than the ZOA. Israel is involved in a fight or its very survival. It is our closest ally in a hostile neighborhood and we have a moral obligation to stand with Israel which is essential to our national interest.”


Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) thanked the ZOA for coming here to Washington to lobby for the wellbeing of Israel. “I do not trust anyone who tells me that Iran is not dedicated to getting a nuclear weapon and we all know where they’ll first use them.”


Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) declared, “In these trying times, we all have to understand the ramifications of our actions as Americans and realize that we have very few friends, true friends, not allies, not allies of convenience. Look at France, which comes and goes, and goes, and then asks us to save them. I went as a supporter of Israel on my first trip to Israel and came back a Zionist … We can all be supporters of Israel, but we need more Zionists to do what is right.”


Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA) spoke strongly about the need to resist the siren call of appeasement and engaging Israel‘s enemies, saying, “There are some people in this country who think we can sit down and have a nice talk with these people. But the truth is we can’t and we shouldn’t give them credibility.”


Lastly, Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) spoke of his encounter with parents of children from Sderot, which is constantly bombarded with rockets from Gaza, who told him how they could not allow their children to play outdoors. He urged strong support for Israel to defend its citizens.


Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) Gene Green (D-TX), Jim Jim Jordan (R-OH) and John Culberson (R-TX) also attended the ZOA Mission Luncheon.


Dr. Michael Goldblatt, ZOA National Board Chairman, Harvey Friedman, ZOA National Board Member and New Jersey ZOA delegate, Deedee Fein, introduced the speakers. Dan Pollak and Joshua London, co-directors of ZOA’s Government Relations office in Washington, D.C., introduced the congress members.


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