The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly criticized a statement jointly issued by Abe Foxmans Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and David Harris American Jewish Committee (AJC) calling to suppress vigorous and serious discussion about some public officials hostile policies towards Israel. The ZOA vehemently disagrees with any attempt to stifle or limit the free speech rights of the public or of candidates for office who wish to challenge their opponents hostile or harmful policies on Israel. The ZOA believes that politicians, whether Republican or Democrat, should be held accountable for their positions on Israel praised when they take pro-Israel positions, and criticized when they do not. It is the ZOA’s position that there should be wall-to-wall support for Israel among both Democrats and Republicans.
Unfortunately, however, that is not always the case. Although most politicians of both parties have been friends of Israel, there have been notable exceptions over the years. The ZOA has not been hesitant to applaud those public servants, both Democrats and Republicans, who steadfastly speak and act in support of Israel or to comment negatively on those politicians who have taken positions hostile to Israel.
Free and open discussion about a politicians record on Israel has the salutary and beneficial effect of causing those politicians to compete to prove themselves to be more supportive of Israel then their opponents, which can only increase the support for the Jewish state.
The ZOA disagrees with the ADLs and the AJCs demand that American Jewish voters minimize the importance of a candidate’s record on Israel as one factor in deciding whether to support that candidate. The truth is that not all politicians are equal in their support for Israel. The ZOA believes pro-Israel politicians should be recognized and commended by the American Jewish community, and politicians hostile to Israel should be criticized. In view of the mounting and existential threats faced by the Jewish state, the elections of 2012 will be crucial to Israel’s security, and it is more important than ever that a spotlight be shined on the candidates’ records of support, or lack of support, for Israel.
Morton A. Klein, National President of ZOA, and Steven M. Goldberg, Esq., Vice Chairman of the ZOA, stated: “We enthusiastically join the ADL and AJC in their call for bipartisan support for Israel, but we are astonished at their misguided attempt to make a candidate’s record on Israel politically irrelevant by their calling to stop the exercise of a politicians freedom of speech to question other politicians support for Israel. It is painfully obvious that those who advocate stifling vigorous debate about a candidates record on Israel are trying to shield some of their favorite candidates from scrutiny. Our public servants must be held accountable for their positions on Israel. It is dishonest to pretend that all candidates are equal when it comes to Israel when that is so clearly not the truth. It is not only perfectly legitimate to make an issue out of a politician’s failure to promote good policies towards Israel, it is our obligation to do so. Otherwise, we will be abdicating our responsibility to tell the truth to the American Jewish people and to fulfill our obligation to strengthen the bonds between the United States and Israel.
It is inappropriate for Abe Foxmans ADL and David Harris AJC to become de-facto thought police whose self-appointed task is to suppress criticism of politicians hostile to Israel. Jewish history has shown the tragic and dangerous consequences of silence by Jewish leaders about issues affecting our people.
We urge the ADL and AJC to rescind this misguided statement which is detrimental to promoting stronger US/Israel relations and which compromises the freedom of speech rights of public officials and all Americans.