The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has opposed President Obama and expressed deep concern following reports that his Administration has been spying on Israel, a close American ally, as well as on American citizens, pro-Israel American groups and Members of Congress. All were engaged in entirely legitimate political activity opposing President Obama’s catastrophic nuclear pact with Iran. Moreover, this occurred despite the U.S. having ceased spying on other international allies.
When the Edward Snowden intelligence leaks emerged earlier in the year, they revealed among other things that the U.S. was spying on allies, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Obama Administration apologized and promised not to do it again. However, here, in contrast, we have the Obama Administration continuing to spy on Israel via the the National Security Agency (NSA)’s surveillance program.
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence has announced that it will investigate the collection by the NSA of information on private exchanges between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and members of Congress during ongoing negotiations for a nuclear deal with Iran. Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R–CA) said in a statement. “The Committee has requested additional information from the IC to determine which, if any, of these allegations are true, and whether the IC followed all applicable laws, rules, and procedures.”
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “By putting Israeli diplomats, pro-Israel groups and Members of Congress under surveillance, the Obama Administration has made clear that — contrary to the assurances it utters from time to time— it regards the Jewish state with great hostility and suspicion. It also showed its willingness to spy on the Congress, a co-equal branch of government.
“President Obama is not only abusing the power of government, he is treating the Congress and Israel as though they were enemy or rival states. From the way the Obama Administration treats them, one would think the Congress and Israel are Russia or China or Iran.
“Contrary to President Obama’s oft-stated assurances that the Israeli/American alliance is strong –– indeed, stronger than before –– the truth is that the relationship has been harmed by his hostility to the Israeli government, particularly his hostility to the Israeli opposition to his catastrophic Iran nuclear deal, which is actually a matter of bipartisan concern and unity in Israel.
“In view of the Jonathan Pollard spy case, and the unprecedentedly long term of imprisonment imposed on someone spying for an allied nation, one would have expected the Obama Administration to be extremely careful and sensitive about spying on an ally.
“As Jonathan Tobin has rightly observed in Commentary, ‘The information it sought and gathered actually had nothing to do with Israeli or American security. Rather it was conducting political espionage aimed at monitoring normal diplomatic conduct and legitimate political activity being conducted by American citizens and members of Congress that opposed the president’s détente with Iran.’
“In short, President Obama is using the apparatus of government for nakedly political purposes.
“U.S. intelligence agencies exist to ascertain and frustrate security threats and provide vital information to defend the nation and its allies. They do not exist to assist the President in eavesdropping on the legitimate efforts, concerns and discussions of American citizens and their elected representatives that the President doesn’t like.
“Congress needs to formally censure the President for this startling abuse of power and we urge all pro-Israeli Americans, both individuals and organizations, to call upon their law-makers to do so.”