The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has taken issue with U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), Chairman of the House of Representatives Middle East Subcommittee, for inaccurately using the terms “Israeli intransigence” and “settler pogroms.” Rep. Ackerman wrongly blamed “Israeli intransigence” and the existence of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, along with Palestinian terrorism, for a “downward spiral” in the Middle East. He said that while he was not trying to draw moral equivalence between Israeli hard-liners and Palestinian terrorists, these factors are “all part of the same destructive dynamic.” Ackerman spoke of “downward pressure” that “comes from terrorism and the march of settlements. It comes from the firing of rockets and the perpetration of settler pogroms. It comes in daily images of destruction and the constant reiteration that ‘they only understand the language of force.'” (‘Ackerman slams settlements, Israeli attitudes,’ Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 12, 2009).
“Settler pogroms” were the terms used apparently to refer to attacks by Hebron Jews on Arabs in December after Israel forcibly removed Jews from a building that appears to have been legally purchased by them. Israeli reports on the violence in Hebron to which Rep. Ackerman was referring indicate that Israeli Jews threw rocks at Palestinian Arabs only after they had been attacked in like fashion by Hebron Arabs, who also tried to drag away a Hebron Jew.
ZOA National Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt said, “We regret and take issue with Congressman Ackerman’s inaccurate and troubling remarks. Factually, he is in error: there has been no Israeli intransigence. On the contrary, the out-going Israeli government has been the most concessionary in Israel‘s history. It has released hundreds of jailed terrorists and closed security checkpoints as good will and confidence-building gestures; it has released funds and even given arms to Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA); it has sought to make even more territorial concessions to the PA. The ZOA believes these moves were deeply mistaken and has said so in the past but, in any event, no-one can describe such policies as intransigent.
“U.S. Rep. Ackerman also makes a false moral equivalence between Jews in Judea and Samaria and Palestinian terrorists and then goes on to blame both for the lack of peace. It is illogical to say one does not mean to engage in moral equivalence between Jews in Judea and Samaria and Palestinian terrorists and then go on to blame both for the lack of peace. If Jews living in Judea and Samaria are viewed as being responsible for the lack of peace, it can only be because a racist Palestinian polity refuses to tolerate any Jews living in its midst. The blame for racism does not lie with its targets. Imagine if someone claimed that the existence of violence against African-Americans in the Deep South had been due to the fact that African-Americans lived there.
“Moreover, to label the rare occurrence of non-lethal violence committed by individual Israelis against Arabs to a pogrom, which occurred only after Arab provocation, is simply inaccurate. Of course, this was hardly a pogrom. The definition of a pogrom is a government-sanctioned and sponsored campaign of murder and rape against people, usually Jews. Nothing even resembling this happened here to Arabs.
“We urge Rep. Ackerman to rescind his unfortunate and deeply hurtful and counter-productive remarks.”