ZOA Praises Senator Menendez’ Senate Speech Debunking Hostile Myths About Israel & Zionism
June 18, 2009

Menendez: Shoah not the reason behind Israel’s founding”




The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has praised Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) for an impressive and knowledgeable speech he delivered this week in the U.S. Senate, entitled ‘Acknowledging Israel’s History,’ which debunked several fallacies and falsehoods surrounding Israel and the Jewish people claim to the land of Israel. Senator Menendez debunked the false idea that Israel was the product of the Holocaust, when in fact Zionism was weakened by the Holocaust and statehood delayed because of the rise of Nazism; indicated that Israel’s bond and claim to the land of Israel is not new but extends thousands of years into history and that Arabs were uprooted by an Arab-initiated war, not Israel’s creation. Senator Menendez also pointed out that hundreds of thousands of Jews were simultaneously driven out of their ancient communities in Arab lands and that Israeli withdrawals have been met by terrorist assault. (‘Menendez speech raps Obama,’ New Jersey Jewish News, June 16, 2009).



Excerpts from Senator Menendez’s speech:

“ … let’s be very clear: while the Shoah has a central role in Israel’s identity, it is not the reason behind its founding and it is not the main justification for its existence.

The extreme characterization of this mistaken view is the following:  the Western powers established Israel in 1948 based on their own guilt, at the expense of the Arab peoples who lived there. Therefore, the current state is illegitimate and should all be wiped off the face of the map.

This flawed argument is not only in defiance of basic human dignity but in plain defiance of history. It is in defiance of ancient history, as told in Biblical texts and through archaeological evidence. And it ignores the history of the last several centuries …


There has been a continuity of Jewish presence in the Holy Land for thousands of years. Jewish kings and governments were established in the area that is now Israel several millennia ago …

The Ottoman Empire collapsed after World War I, and the treaty they signed with the Allied Powers granted Great Britain a mandate over the area then known as Palestine. The League of Nations endorsed and clarified this mandate in 1922, requiring Britain to reconstitute a Jewish national home within the territory they controlled, in accordance with a declaration made by British Foreign Secretary Balfour in 1917, making the restoration of Jewish communities in that area a matter of international law.

By the time World War II had ended, there were more than 600,000 Jews living in the British Mandate of Palestine.  In 1947 the United Nations approved a plan to partition the territory into Arab and Jewish states. The Jewish Agency accepted the plan. The Arabs did not.

On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel declared its independence. On May 15, five Arab nations declared war …

So, to be clear, the more than 700,000 Palestinians who left Israel were refugees of a war instigated by Arab governments, bent on seizing more land for themselves.

But the Arabs who left Israel after its modern founding weren’t the only displaced population in the Middle East. In addition to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who left Europe during and after the Holocaust, in the 20th century, more than three quarters of a million Jews fled or were expelled from their homes in Arab and Middle Eastern nations — in cities that many of their families had lived in for nearly a millennium. Their possessions were taken, their livelihoods were destroyed, victims of nationalism and hatred of Israel…


And so, the way to consider the immeasurable impact of the Holocaust on Israel is not to ask whether the state would exist otherwise. It is, at least in one sense, to imagine how even more vibrant Israel would be if millions upon millions had not been denied a chance to know it.

The attacks on Israel have barely stopped since 1948 …

Today, it is still surrounded by hostility; its back is still to the sea. It is surrounded by hostility from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip …

Hamas is a terrorist organization. It won control of Gaza after men in ski masks waged gun battles with another branch of Palestinian leadership. It used that control to launch rockets at sleeping children in the nearby Israeli cities of Ashkelon and Sderot. This is the thanks Israel got for withdrawing from Gaza …

Hamas and Hezbollah may be the head of the snake when it comes to terrorism, but the tail extends much farther back. The weapons terrorists use were sent from Iran. Money they received was sent from Iran.

Propaganda supporting Hamas’s campaign of terror and calling for Israel’s destruction was conceived in, produced by and broadcast from Iran.

The fundamentalist regime in Teheran isn’t just an emerging threat, it doesn’t just have the potential to be a threat to Israel’s existence, it is a threat to Israel’s existence. And under no circumstances whatsoever can we allow that conventional threat to become a nuclear one.

Especially in light of the threat of Iran, and in light of the threats extremists pose to so many innocent civilians around the globe, the importance of Israel as a strategic ally and friend to the United States could not be clearer. It is hard to overstate the value of having such a stalwart democratic ally in such a critical part of the world, an ally in terms of intelligence gathering, economics, politics and culture.

Israel is a rose in a desert rampant with repression, a force of moderation against fundamentalism and extremism. It is an ally we can constantly depend on, and count on, to be with us in international fora and on the key decisions that affect the safety and security of Americans around the world.

For more than six decades it has been a key U.S. trading partner and a scientific innovator. We have Israeli engineers to thank for everything from advances in solar power to cell phone technology to AOL Instant Messenger.

Equipment we’re using in Iraq to fight terrorism and keep American troops safe was developed in Israel-and medical treatments we’re using in U.S. hospitals to fight cancer, heart disease and chronic pain were developed in Israel …

So it’s not just in the interests of Israel to have its full history recognized, it is in the national interests and national security interests of the United States …

There can be no denying the Jewish people’s legitimate right to live in peace and security on a homeland to which they have had a connection for thousands of years



ZOA National President Morton A. Klein, National Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt & Executive Director Gary Ratner said, “We applaud Senator Menendez for making an eloquent speech, based on moral clarity and historical accuracy, that rebuts so many of the hostile presumptions about Israel and Zionism that emerge frequently in public discourse and in the universities.


“ZOA had reason to note that President Barak Obama, in his recent Cairo speech, worryingly echoed some of the fallacies that Senator Menendez has rebutted, in particular, the idea that Israel is some sort of recompense for the Holocaust, paid for by innocent Arabs, thus implying that Jews had no other legitimate claim to independence in the land of Israel.


“We would note further that, inasmuch as the Palestinian leadership of the day under Haj Amin el Husseini actively collaborated with Nazism, helped form Bosnian Muslim SS units, assisted deportation to the death camps of Jews and otherwise did their best to prevent Jews escaping the Holocaust, that Palestinian Arabs are in fact implicated in the horrors of Nazism.


“Above all, Senator Menendez reminds his listeners that Israel is an independent, democratic, natural ally of America whom morality and self-interest alike oblige us to defend and support. Senator Menendez’s welcome speech should be studied and heeded by the Obama Administration.”

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