Hundreds of Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) activists from across the country took part in the ZOAs Annual Advocacy Mission to Washington, D.C. on May 12, 2011. In over 150 meetings with Members of the House and Senate and their staff, ZOA activists urged Congress to take the following steps: (1) Immediately end all U.S. financial assistance of $900 million dollars per year to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and end all relations with the PA as long as its merger with the Nazi-like, Jew-killing Hamas remains intact. Additionally, U.S. aid to the PA must cease unless and until the PA fulfills its written obligations to end the promotion of hatred and violence against Jewish Israelis in their schools, media, and speeches; to arrest Jew-killing terrorists; and to outlaw terrorist groups. Since the Oslo process began in 1993, the PA has received billions of dollars. Yet the PA continues to name schools, streets and sports teams after Jew-killing terrorists, which honors and glorifies murder, and encourages young Palestinians to become killers. (2) Support newly proposed legislation (the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act of 2011 [H.R. 1006]) to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and remove the security waiver that now exists and that has been invoked since 1995, by Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama. (3) Oppose a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian Arab state which would violate the Oslo II agreements signed by the PA, thereby rendering such a declaration illegal. In addition to urging Congress to support legislation that would penalize any such attempts by the PA, ZOA activists asked lawmakers to urge the White House to lead diplomatic efforts to persuade other nations to oppose a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian Arab state.
At the ZOAs Congressional Luncheon, held in a beautiful room on the top floor of the Hart Senate Office Building with breathtaking views of Washington, D.C., ZOA activists heard speeches from numerous U.S. Senators and House Members, almost evenly split between Democrats and Republicans, who joined them at the Luncheon. Here is a sampling of their comments:
Cong. Allen B. West (R-FL): Wishing a happy 63rd birthday to the modern state of Israel, Cong. West criticized the agreement between Fatah and Hamas, saying the United States should not be sending hard-earned taxpayers dollars to the Palestinian Arabs . . . In a letter Cong. West wrote to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, he stated that if the UN recognizes a state of Palestine, the United States is allowing the creation of a new terrorist state. We cannot allow that . . . Israel is our most important ally.
Cong. Eliot Engel (D-NY): Theres never been a ZOA function I havent attended [and although he had votes to cast, Cong. Engel said that he made sure to attend the ZOA Congressional Luncheon] as a show of respect to the ZOA. . . . The [Obama] administration is doing some very good things [for Israels defense] . . . but the rhetoric coming out of the White House doesnt help. . . . [Noting that Israel cannot take security risks], Cong. Engel said, I dont care if the United States wants it or the American president wants it. . . . ZOA has always adhered to very strong principles. Youre not wishy-washy. I want to commend you. You have always championed the right things.
Cong. Shelley Berkley (D-NV): Im mishpuchah [family] and a proud member of ZOA. Id be remiss if I didnt mention my good friend Mort Klein. Weve been partners in crime and in good for many years now. I dont know anyone more devoted to issues we care about. Referring to President Obama making the so-called settlements an issue, Cong. Berkley said, How anybody would think that building up established settlements would be an impediment to peace is a mystery to me. It was a mistake of monumental proportions . . . It is essential that the United States of America veto that [anticipated PA] resolution for recognizing a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian Arab state. They will not create a peaceful state living side by side with Israel . . . [it will be] a terrorist stronghold to eliminate Israel. We cannot allow that to happen. . . . The United States must make sure that the radical elements of Egypt do not take over that government . . . . Jerusalem is the eternal, undivided capital of the state of Israel. As long as there is breath in my body, it will continue to be the eternal undivided capital. . . . [Referring to the ZOA activists] you being here is essential to the survival of Israel and the survival of our people . . . there is isnt a group more passionate than the ZOA or more effective in getting our positions across . . . thank you for being here.
Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AK): The United States has a special relationship with Israel . . . based on shared values, principles and interests. . . . Israel is the best friend we have in the world and maybe the best friend in all the world. . . . Noting that Arkansas has one of the smallest populations of Jews in the U.S., Sen. Pryor said, Its amazing how many people will say to me, Cut this, cut that, but dont cut the aid to Israel. . . . Thank you for doing what you do.
Sen. John Boozman (R-AK): I just want to compliment you on being here. . . . Dont ever underestimate how important it is to be here . . . [meeting with House Members and Senators] eyeball to eyeball . . . . In this very uncertain time . . . I want you to know that Im very supportive and committed.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT): Im a friend of your organization. Im a friend of the state of Israel. [Sen. Lee and his wife] are life-long fans of Israel. . . . Those who want to destroy Israel have their sights set on destroying the United States. . . . You have my commitment to do everything I can to stand up for the U.S.-Israel relationship. . . . May G-d bless the sovereign state of Israel and the United States of America.
Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY): Sen. Barrasso has had the great privilege to go to Israel four different times and has seen for himself just how small and fragile Israel is . . . Hamas is a vital enemy of the Israeli people and Sen. Barrasso has great concerns about that. . . . Thank you for all you do for Israel, America, for democracy . . . the United States has no better friend than the people of Israel.
Cong. Anthony Weiner (D-NY): I represent the ZOA wing of the Democratic party. . . . You guys are here for action . . . The United States shouldnt do anything that implies kinship or sponsorship with Saudi Arabia . . . [a country which] sponsors terrorism. [For as long as the PA has a pact with Hamas, the PA should receive] not a dime, not a dollar, not a shekel. . . . The time has come to commute the sentence of Jonathan Pollard . . . life imprisonment without parole is simply inhumane and not just. . . . One of the ways we say G-d bless America is to say Am Yisrael Chai [the nation of Israel lives].
Cong. Steve Rothman (D-NJ): Thank you to each of you for your advocacy. . . . Ive been working for a strong United States-Israel relationship for the last 43 years. . . . We get back 1000 times whatever we give to Israel in military aid. . . . Lets remember who our friends are . . . the United States of America and Israel.
Cong. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY): This is a time of great danger for Israel in the Middle East. The United States has to stand by Israel. Cong. Nadler said that while he himself supports a Palestinian Arab state, the Palestinians do not have a right to a state. If there is such a state, it has to be a state where the security concerns of Israel are paramount. . . . A Palestinian state unilaterally declared is a mortal danger and cannot be allowed to happen. The United States must not allow it. . . . The other mortal danger to Israel is Iran. . . . We must stand by Israel even if the rest of the world doesnt. . . . We have to keep working to make sure the United States remains secure and an ally of Israel.
Cong. Joe Walsh (R-IL): This is a critical time, a turbulent time for the Middle East. The one constant in the Middle East is the unwavering support, the unyielding support for Israel . . . I am pro-Israel first, pro-peace second. We are not an umpire judging a contest between two equal teams. Referring to terrorists, he said, We are dealing with an enemy that only understands strength. If the United States strongly supports Israel, that will lead to peace.
Cong. Dennis Ross (R-FL): I recognize that its not the 63rd birthday of the Jewish people. That goes back to the beginning of time. Regarding Jerusalem, thats where the capital [of Israel] should be . . . the Jewish people hold claim to this area. . . . It should be the unequivocal policy [of the United States] that Hamas is a terrorist organization. [Cong. Ross and his colleagues in Congress] must continue to condemn and be vigilant in condemning anti-Semitism. . . . When I go to visit Israel for the first time in August, how proud Id be if my passport was stamped Jerusalem, Israel. . . . I for one will stand with Israel, with Americas relationship with Israel.
Cong. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN): Rest assured. I am 100 percent behind Israel. Israel is our only true ally in the Middle East. We have a special bond. I intend to vote that way in Congress. . . . Please consider myself a resource, a friend . . . thank you so much for advocating for Israel. Please be heard . . . When enemies of the United States and Israel dont even hide their hatred, thats a clear message that we have to stand strong. Its so important that we not let rhetoric against the United States and Israel go unanswered . . . the Holocaust started with hateful rhetoric . . . we will pay attention in Congress.
Cong. Doug Lamborn (R-CO): Youve got a great organization. G-d bless.
ZOA activists also heard from Richard Hellman, president of Christians Israel Public Action Campaign, who applauded ZOA National President Morton A. Klein and the ZOA for working for the strongest possible support for Israel. In addition, Jeff Daube, Director of the ZOAs Israel office, discussed the ZOAs efforts in Israel and its campaign to address the ongoing abuse of mourners and gravesites on Israels Mount of Olives, the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein also addressed the hundreds of ZOA activists, describing the enormous dangers of the new unity agreement between the Fatah-controlled PA and Hamas. In its constitution, Fatah calls for the destruction of Israel and the use of terrorism as an indispensible element in the struggle to achieve its goals. In recent years, Fatah commissioned an official emblem depicting all of Israel as Palestine and covered in a Palestinian Arab keffiyeh, with a picture of the terrorist Yasser Arafat in the center and a Kalashnikov rifle on the side. Hamas in its charter calls for the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel. The continuing promotion of hatred and murder of Jews and Israelis recently led to the massacre of the Fogel family, including three small children, in Itamar. After these brutal murders, PA leaders named a town square after Dalal Mughrabi who led a terrorist attack in Israel resulting in the murder of 37 Jews. Even though the naming of the town square glorified a Jew-killer and would contribute to inciting more violence rather than promote peace, not one major official in the Obama administration condemned it.
Mr. Klein told the Z OA activists that in the wake of the Fatah-Hamas unity agreement, a senior Fatah official said, No one in Fatah and Hamas movements recognizes Israel. Top PA officials have also made it clear that no Jew will be allowed in a Palestinian state. The ZOA was disappointed that President Obama did not condemn the unity agreement but rather said that we must look at the details. Mort Klein reported that in a meeting he had with Amos Yadlin, former head of the Israeli Air Force and Military Intelligence, General Yadlin said that a Palestinian state under Hamas is more dangerous than the status quo. Mr. Klein praised the letter that 29 U.S. Senators more than half of the 53-member Democratic Senate caucus sent to President Obama, urging the President to suspend U.S. aid to the PA unless Hamas, which has now joined the Fatah-controlled PA in a unity government, recognizes Israel, renounces terrorism and fulfills the signed, written agreements between Israel and the PA.
Mort Klein thanked the entire ZOA staff for their hard work in making the ZOAs Advocacy Mission to Washington, D.C. such a success. Josh London and Dan Pollak, Co-Directors of the ZOAs Government Relations Department, were the masters of ceremonies at the luncheon event and led the discussion of the issues. The ZOA is also pleased to acknowledge that its Philadelphia district had the largest single delegation to the Mission.