ZOA Criticizes Obama For Opposing Israel’s Listing Religious/Historic Jewish Sites
March 1, 2010

Yet Obama Silent On PA Praising Jew Killers

And Naming Streets After Them





The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is critical of the Obama Administration’s sharp criticism of Israel for having designated Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs and Rachel Tomb as national heritage sites marked for renovation and preservation, a step the ZOA praised last week. U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the administration viewed the move as “provocative” and unhelpful to the goal of getting Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table (Matthew Lee, ‘US slams Israel over designating heritage sites,’ Washington Post, February 24, 2010). Yet, at the same time, the Obama Administration has been silent about continued glorification of terrorism by Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas and prime minister Salam Fayyad who recently named an intersection and computer center after terrorist  Dalal Mughrabi, who commanded the terrorists that perpetrated the 1978 coastal road bus hijacking, in which 37 Israelis, including 12 children, were slaughtered. The PA even declared a Dalal Mughrabi Day, while last December, PA prime minister Salam Fayyad personally visited the families of dead terrorists and praised them as heroes and martyrs.


Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the Israeli heritage listing as “as serious provocation” (Ali Waked, ‘Abbas, Haniyeh: Heritage sites will ignite a war,’ Yediot Ahronot, February 23, 2010) while Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh also called for a new uprising against Israel. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has condemned these statements, describing them as part of a “a campaign of lies and hypocrisy … Rachel’s Tomb and the Cave of the Patriarchs are burial sites dating from more than 3,500 years ago of Israel’s forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the nation’s foremothers, Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel – and are worthy of preservation and renovation” (Barak Ravid, ‘Netanyahu: Abbas remarks on heritage sites are lies, hypocrisy,’ Haaretz, February 22, 2010).


Israel President Shimon Peres has also condemned the Arab campaign of hostility to the heritage listing of the two sites, saying, “Israel plans to invest significant amounts in infrastructure that will increase the accessibility of holy sites to all worshipers. By doing so it aims to honor and allow freedom of worship to all, irrespective of their faith, and protect the holy sites. There is no violation of Muslim or Christian religious rights in any holy place” (‘President Peres Slams Critics of Israel’s Plans To Invest In National Heritage Sites,’ Independent Media Review & Analysis, February 24, 2010).


ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are critical of the Obama Administration’s negative reaction to a laudable Israel initiative to give heritage status to two of Judaism’s most important religious and historical sites and to have them renovated and restored. Only where Israel does such things is it conceivable that this could serve as grounds for criticism from an ally like the U.S.


“These biblical sites are thousands of years old, among the holiest places in Judaism and their sanctity to Judaism predates the emergence of Islam. To call the heritage listing of these sites a ‘provocation’ is to be expected from a terror-supporting regime like the PA, but it is not worthy of a friend and ally like the United States.


Conversely, for the Obama Administration to remain silent when the PA honors notorious terrorists like Dalal Mughrabi, even declaring a Dalal Mughrabi Day and when PA prime minister Salam Fayyad personally visits the families of dead terrorists, is simply shameful. The Palestinian actions are “provocative” not Israel’s. How can this Administration justify this criticism of Israeli plans to protect and renovate holy sites, especially when this misguided criticism is juxtaposed with silence on genuine, major Palestinian anti-peace acts?


“We reject this criticism of the heritage listing as but another misconceived attempt to appease Arab and Muslim hostility to Israel that fastens onto any pretext, no matter how hollow and fabricated, to cause an international uproar against Israel. 


“The State Department spokesman is wrong: this Israeli heritage listing is not unhelpful to bringing about negotiations. What is genuinely unhelpful to producing negotiations is the PA refusal to negotiate with Israel until there is a freeze on all Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem; and the earlier U.S. demand for such freeze, which was not only unhelpful in itself, but made in a strident, public manner that exacerbated its deleterious impact upon Arab parties, who drew one lesson: that they need make no concessions and gestures at all and can sit back while they wait for America to twist Israel’s arm.


“Above all, what is most unhelpful – indeed fatal – to the prospect of genuine negotiations is the refusal of Mahmoud Abbas’ PA to accept Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish state; to condemn terrorism as a moral obscenity; to dismantle and outlaw terrorist groups and to end the incitement to hatred and murder within the PA that feeds terrorism. If Abbas’ PA would do these things, genuine peace negotiations would be possible.


“Regrettably, instead of stating these facts forthrightly, there is a pattern of the Obama Administration blaming Israel for Arab intransigence and hostility by condemning whatever Israel does than can be made to look like creating an alibi for Palestinian fury and violence. We saw this last November when President Obama criticized Israel for building homes for Jews in parts of Jerusalem, irresponsibly labeling this as ‘provocative.’ Such words, at least in some sense, express the belief that such Israeli action produces an expected and almost understandable Palestinian response. In fact, it may well be that Palestinians are threatening violence now over the heritage listings because they saw only three months ago that their threat of violence was not roundly condemned and penalized but on the contrary, was validated by the U.S. President, no less.


“We reiterate our support for this Israel heritage listing and urge the Obama Administration to rescind its criticism of it as well as to condemn belligerent Palestinian statements and acts.”

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