Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton Klein released the following statement:
The Zionist Organization of America wishes to thank the Hillcrest Jewish Center in Queens, New York, and its charismatic Rabbi Manes Kogan and dedicated activist Robert Kenler for hosting and co-sponsoring with ZOA a successful breakfast talk by dynamic young Israeli Knesset Member (“MK”) Amir Ohana on Sunday April 10. (MK Ohana is also the first openly gay member of Knesset). The “standing room only” audience sat riveted during MK Ohana’s presentation, and then engaged in lively Q&A. Here are a few of the many highlights from MK Ohana’s presentation and Q&A responses:
- Although Israel wants peace, the outlook for peace is grim, because there is no peace partner on the other side. Neither of the two strong entities on the other side (Hamas and the PLO) want peace. Their brutality included murdering 2-month-old Hadas Fogel by slitting her throat while she was sleeping in her crib, and murdering her parents and brothers and sisters who were at home.
- The Hamas Charter calls for the destruction of Israel and the murder of all Jews – not only Israelis, but Jews. Section 7 of the Hamas Charter says: “Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take . . . . The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!”
- The PLO also seeks the destruction of Israel. The PLO was created in 1964 – a time when there were no Jews living in Judea and Samaria. The PLO was thus not created to end “settlements” or “occupation”; it was created to “liberate” all of Israel from the Jewish people. The PLO gives salaries to terrorists – including the terrorists who murdered 2-month-old Hadas Fogel.
- The PLO/PA (Palestinian Authority) names streets and buildings after terrorists. The PA named the street containing the Ramallah government complex after Hamas terrorist and chief bomb-maker Yahye Ayash (a/k/a “the Engineer” or “al-Muhandis”), who was responsible for murdering almost 100 Israelis, in suicide bus bombings throughout Israel.
- PLO/PA President Mahmoud Abbas flew to Turkey to shake the hand of vicious Hamas and PLO terrorists (including female terrorist Amna Muna). These terrorists murdered Israelis, and later were then freed in the Galid Shalit deal. Amna Muna had lured Israeli teenager Ofir Rahum to a meeting, where he was murdered in 2001. While in Israeli prison, Amna Muna repeatedly imitated Ofir’s last screams to torment and upset the Israeli guards.
- The actions of the PLO and Hamas and BDS groups on college campuses are not the actions of groups that want peace. At the universities, they scream: “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” Those who know the map of Israel know that Israel is wedged between the (Jordan) river and the (Mediterranean) sea; the BDS chant calls for the destruction of all of Israel.
- Throughout the past 68 years, Israel has not known one day of peace. Yet, without even a single day of peace, Israel has still flourished. Israel is the envy of Europe, and has flourished in technology and agriculture.
- A 23rd Arab State [a “Palestinian” Arab state] will not bring peace or end terror.
- Terrorism does not occur because there is “no hope.” Rather, terrorism occurs because there is “hope” – hope to wipe out Israel and the Jewish people.
- The PLO has a “10 point program” for destroying Israel “piece by piece”: First, obtain Israel’s withdrawal from Judea/Samaria, and then destroy all of Israel. [Section 8 of the PLO’s Ten Point Program states: “Once it [a Palestinian nation authority] is established, the Palestinian national authority will strive to achieve a union of the confrontation countries, with the aim of completing the liberation of all Palestinian territory.”]
- Abbas Zaki, who is expected to inherit the leadership of the PLO/PA when Mahmoud Abbas steps down, also said [in 2014] that the “stages plan” to eliminate Israel is the basis of PA policy. Zaki also said that the PA/PLO should not say its real goal of destroying Israel out loud, and should just say it is complete destruction policy internally, because the world does not want to hear about the elimination of Israel.
- There may be individual Palestinian Arabs who want peace, but what is important is what the mainstream and leadership does.
- Before the Oslo Accord in 1993, there wasn’t a single suicide bombing in Israel. In the Oslo agreements, Israel brought the PLO into Israel and gave them arms and a police force. This made no sense. Israel experienced very bloody times thereafter.
- The Iran agreement was a colossal mistake – like the Munich agreement that was supposed to bring “peace in our time.” MK Ohana cannot understand America’s motivation for entering into the Iran deal. MK Ohana understands the importance of bi-partisanship, but it was disappointing that Obama persuaded most Democratic Congresspersons to support the Iran deal (even though most did not really like the deal). Audience members brought up that Democratic Congresswoman Grace Meng (the Congresswoman for the district in which Hillcrest Jewish Center is located) was one of the first, brave Democratic Congresspersons to oppose the Iran deal. (ZOA praised Congresswoman’s brave stand against the Iran deal.) MK Ohana noted that there is, however, a deep friendship between America and Israel. MK Ohana believes that bipartisan support for Israel will resume.
- MK Ohana was asked about the Israeli soldier who shot a Palestinian Arab terrorist who lying on the ground. MK Ohana stated that the Israeli authorities are investigating the matter. It is a difficult issue, because terrorists that seemed to have been disabled have then stood up and murdered further people — either by getting up and continuing to attack or by exploding suicide bombs. The Arab terrorist here had just knifed innocent civilians, and was wearing a heavy jacket on a warm day, and could have been wearing a bomb. If he indeed had been wearing a bomb, the Israeli soldier would have been hailed as a hero.
MK Ohana described examples of Israeli fatalities resulting from abstaining from shooting a downed terrorist, and noted that if there is any doubt as to whether this was self defense, the authorities should find in favor of the Israeli soldier. For example, in October 2015, a Bezeq (Israeli phone company) Arab employee first plowed his vehicle into a group of Israelis waiting at a train station in Jerusalem, and then leapt out of his vehicle and attacked the stunned and wounded Israelis with a meat cleaver. A civilian shot the Arab terrorist, who then got up and continued butchering Israelis with his meat cleaver. If the terrorist had been shot again, civilians may have been saved from further injury or death.
In the 1990s, an Israeli squad leader, who was off duty in his home, heard screams outside. He ran outside, and saw an Arab terrorist murder two Israeli women. The squad leader shot the terrorist, who lay on the ground. When the squad leader walked over to the terrorist, the terrorist jumped up and stabbed the Israeli squad leader in the heart, murdering him. The squad leader may still be alive today if he had shot the terrorist again.
- During Q&A about BDS (boycotts, divestment and sanctions of Israel), ZOA’s Queens-Long Island Executive Director Liz Berney said that there was something that everyone in the audience could do to help: namely, call their Assembly member to pass New York State’s anti-BDS bill, A-9036. A-9036 passed in the New York State Senate in January, and is still awaiting approval in the New York State Assembly. See ZOA’s Action Alert. Coincidentally, just at that moment, local Assemblywoman Nily Rozic walked into the room. Rabbi Kogan learned from her and announced that she is co-sponsoring A-9036, which the audience enthusiastically applauded.
- An audience member stated that among the four leading presidential candidates: one voted for the disastrous Iran deal (Sanders); one was a leading architect of the disastrous Iran deal (Hillary Clinton); one spoke of enforcing the deal (Trump); and one was a leader in the fight against the terrible Iran deal (Cruz). The audience member then asked whether MK Ohana had a personal preference among the candidates. MK Ohana said that it would be inappropriate for him to interfere in a U.S. election.
- When asked if Israel should release Arab terrorists in order to obtain Israeli hostages, MK Ohana spoke about how difficult these decisions are. There is a strong desire to release someone such as Galid Shalit, who was held hostage by Hamas for 5 years. The problem is that Arab terrorists who are released from prison will likely attempt to murder innocent Jews civilians again. Also, these sorts of deals encourage Hamas and the PLO to take more Israeli hostages. Thus, Israel should make every military effort to free captured Israeli hostages, but should not negotiate deals in which Arab terrorists are freed.
- Rabbi Kogan asked MK Ohana for some insight as to what it’s like to be a member of the Knesset. MK Ohana mentioned that one of the drawbacks of being a member of Knesset is that he does not have enough time to spend with his children. (MK Ohana and his partner have 7-month old twins.)
The audience was very impressed with MK Ohana. During Q&A, an audience member enthusiastically suggested that MK Ohana should speak at college campuses throughout the U.S.
ZOA thanks MK Ohana for his public service and excellent presentation.