ZOA Praises House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Cong. Berman’s Criticism Of Obama’s Demand To Freeze Jewish Construction
September 2, 2009

Berman condemns PA violation of agreements




The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has praised the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA) for his incisive criticism of the Obama Administration for demanding that Israel completely freeze Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem. In a recent meeting with Jewish leaders in Los Angeles, Berman, who is in close touch with Middle East envoy George Mitchell, said that the disagreement between Israel and the U.S. over the issue will be resolved but was highly critical of the conduct of the Obama administration, saying the demand for absolute cessation of construction in the settlements was “mistaken.”

Berman blamed the stance of the Administration on the settlements for having hardened the Palestinian position, saying, “Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is waiting for the U.S. to present him Israel on a platter.” Berman also said that the PA has yet to fulfill its commitments under signed agreements such as preventing terrorism against Israel (Barak Ravid, ‘Democratic Congressman: Obama demand for settlement freeze “mistaken”,’ Haaretz, August 23, 2009).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We applaud Congressman Berman’s criticism of the Obama Administration policy towards Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA). It is both factually wrong and a moral travesty to argue that people, simply because they are Jews, should not be allowed to move into Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.  It would be a strategic error for Israel to agree to a construction freeze, because it would lend credence to the utterly false notion that Jews living in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem pose an obstacle to a peace agreement with the Palestinians while achieving nothing for the cause of peace.


“The efforts to stop Jews from living in or moving to these territories assists Palestinian and Arab propaganda efforts to distract focus from the real issue of Palestinian extremism and non-acceptance of Israel which are the root of the conflict. It disseminates the idea that Jews have no right to live in these areas, the historical and religious heartland of the Jewish people. And it lends credence to the false notion that peace can be built by making these territories judenrein.


“Peace has not been achieved because the Palestinians have not fulfilled their nearly 16-year old obligations under the Oslo agreements and 2003 Roadmap peace plan to arrest anti-Israel terrorists; outlaw terrorist groups and end incitement to hatred and murder against Jews and Israel in their media, mosques, schools and youth camps. Instead, they continue to glorify terrorists by naming schools, streets, sports teams and colleges after them; disseminate heroic posters of suicide bombers throughout Arab towns and exclude Israel from their maps, atlases and school texts. Abbas’ Fatah party’s new emblem shows all of Israel covered with an Arab headdress, next to a large rifle, with Arafat in the middle. Above all, they have not educated their public for peace and acceptance of Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state.


“We also must recall that there were no Jews in these territories when they were under illegal Jordanian occupation (1948-67), yet there was no peace and no Arab acceptance of Israel.  


“Jewish growth in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem has a fundamental legitimacy and poses no obstacle to a true peace if Palestinians are ready for one, so the Obama Administration’s insistence on a construction freeze would remain inappropriate even if the prospect of genuine peace negotiations with a truly peaceful Palestinian partner were possible.


“President Obama has made a big error in presuming that Israelis and American Jews would take his side in making an essentially racist demand that Jews, because they are Jews, be prevented from building in or moving into homes in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. As recent polls indicate, Israelis do not believe Jewish communities in these territories are obstacles to peace and oppose the demands that President Obama is making on Israel. Similarly, a Global Marketing Research Services July 2009 poll shows that a 55% majority of American Jewish Democrats believe that ‘President Obama is naïve in thinking that the Palestinians would make peace, whatever they say. They will just use the new land as a base to attack Israel like they did in Gaza.’ Only 27% think that ‘President Obama is right that Israel should agree to let the Palestinians form their own country and return the West Bank to them. This would defuse the hatred in the Middle East, reduce terrorism and help America, the Palestinians, and Israel live in peace.’ It is safe to assume that the overall proportion of American Jews who think the Obama Administration’s policy is mistaken is even higher.”


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