ZOA Filed Amicus Brief to Supreme Court Supporting Improving Vetting/Immigration System
News Press Release
October 4, 2017

Zionist Organization of America President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in support of enforcement of President Trump’s March 6, 2017 executive order entitled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” Exec. Order No. 13780, 82 Fed. Reg. 13209 (“EO-2”).

ZOA’s brief, filed on August 17, 2017, set forth a mountain of evidence confirming the serious vetting problems that EO-2 sought to address, including repeated Congressional hearings during which top Obama administration security officials testified that the U.S. lacks the information to thoroughly vet persons admitted to the United States, particularly persons from the six countries specified in EO-2.  These six named countries are marked by combat zones and infested with terrorist groups (e.g., ISIS, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Hamas, and al-Shabaab) and their sympathizers.  Three of the countries named in EO-2 (Iran, Syria and Sudan) are designated state sponsors of terrorism. 

ZOA’s brief also listed bipartisan Congress members’ statements supporting an immigration pause from Syria; warnings from a Lebanese minister and ISIS official about significant ISIS infiltration; polling showing substantial support for ISIS and Hamas among the Syrian population; the anti-Semitic, anti-American teachings indoctrinated into Syrian students from an early age onwards; and spectacular U.S. vetting failures, including, among others, the one that allowed San Bernardino massacre perpetrator Tashfeen Malik into our country.  ZOA’s brief also described Europe’s experience: including ISIS terrorists who infiltrated with refugee streams perpetrating the infamous Paris massacre, and migrants/terrorists targeting and attacking vulnerable populations, including Jewish children and synagogues, women, homosexuals, and an elderly Catholic priest. 

ZOA’s knowledge and experience can provide important insights and background for the Court. The Zionist Organization of America is the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States, founded in 1897 as the Federation of American Zionists.  ZOA is dedicated to protecting the safety, rights and survival of the Jewish people, pro-Israel community and fellow American citizens, and is a leader in combatting anti-Semitism today.  ZOA assists Jewish, pro-Israel and neutral students on U.S. college campuses who are subjected to attacks and threats from members of radical groups.  ZOA is also in contact with Jewish leaders throughout Europe regarding the frightening increase in radical groups’ physical and other attacks against Jews, Christians, women, homosexuals, and others, in the wake of extensive unvetted or inadequately vetted immigration into Europe from terrorist haven countries.  ZOA President Morton A. Klein was a keynote speaker at the 2014 International Center for Combatting Anti-Semitism conference in Belgium.

In addition, ZOA officers, staff and members include direct descendants of Holocaust victims and refugees.  For instance, ZOA President Morton Klein is the son of Holocaust survivors, and was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany.  ZOA Director of Special Projects (counsel on the brief) Elizabeth Berney is the daughter of a refugee from Nazi Germany (who went back with the US Army to fight the Nazis), and several of her relatives including her great-grandmother were passengers on the infamous May-June 1939 voyage of the SS St. Louis.

Given the background of many at the ZOA, ZOA is concerned that EO-2’s opponents (such as the left-wing Anti-Defamation League and resettlement contractor HIAS) are exploiting and making false analogies to Jews’ World War II experiences; ignoring the real dangers that EO-2 seeks to address; and distorting Jewish/Judeo-Christian and American values to try to justify admitting persons into the United States today who cannot be properly vetted and who thus endanger U.S. citizens.

ZOA’s brief thus also discussed the fact that both American and Jewish/Judeo-Christian values give the highest priority to protecting the lives of American citizens.  ZOA’s brief also explains that Jewish refugees’ life-threatening situations and U.S. policies during World War II are not analogous to today’s circumstances.  Past dissimilar situations do not warrant admitting into the United States persons who cannot be properly vetted.

Sadly, on the very same day that ZOA’s brief was filed, anti-Semitic migrant ISIS terrorists perpetrated the horrific multiple van-ramming and stabbing terrorist attacks in Las Ramblas, Barcelona and in the seaside resort of Cambrils, murdering 16 innocent people and injuring 120 innocents.  (“Spanish Attacks Death Toll Rises to 16 After Woman Dies in Hospital,” The Guardian, Aug. 27. 2017)  This was yet another terrible reminder of the need to more carefully vet those seeking entry to the United States.

And numerous additional attacks in the weeks subsequent to ZOA filing its brief further remind us of the necessity to carefully vet entrants into our country.  For instance:

  • On Sept 30, 2017, outside a soccer game in Edmonton, Canada, Somali refugee Abdulahi Hassan Sharif deliberately rammed his vehicle into a police officer, then jumped out of his vehicle and stabbed the police officer, and later deliberately drove into four pedestrians.  He had an ISIS flag in his car.  In 2011, a U.S. immigration judge ordered Sharif’s deportation from the U.S. to Somalia, but Sharif was released from U.S. custody a few months later (without being deporting) and then could not be located by U.S. officials when he failed to report in to ICE.  Sharif showed up in Canada and claimed asylum status in 2012. (“Abdulahi Sharif, Accused in Edmonton Attacks, Ordered Deported to Somalia in 2011: U.S. Officials,” by Phil Heidenreich, Global News)
  • On October 1, 2017, a man “of North African background” shouting “Allahu akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” slit the throat of one young woman, and stabbed another woman to death, at the Marseille, France train station.  The victims were ages 17 and 20.  (“ISIS Claims Responsibility for Marseille Train Station Attack; 2 Women Killed,” AP & Fox News, Oct. 1, 2017.)  
  • On September 15, 2017, a cell of several young jihadis, including teenagers, planted and set off an incendiary bomb in a crowded morning rush hour train in the London Underground, injuring 29 passengers.   Some of the passengers suffered severe burns and others were trampled in a stampede to escape from the train.  The bomb only partially worked: If the bomb had fully exploded, the devastation would have been far worse.  ISIS claimed responsibility.  At least one of the alleged perpetrators was arrested at a suburban home that fosters refugee children.  (“British Police Arrest Second Man Over London Train Bomb,” Reuters, Sept. 15, 2017.)
  • On August 26, 2017, in Brussels, Belgium, a Somali refugee, to whom Belgium had given asylum and citizenship, attacked two Belgian soldiers from behind with a machete while yelling “Allahu Akbar.” (“Brussels Attack: Man Shot After Stabbing Soldier,” BBC News, Aug. 26, 2017.)
  • On August 18, 2017, in a main square in Turku Finland, an 18-year old Moroccan terrorist screaming “Allahu Akbar” stabbed two Finnish women to death, and wounded 5 other women, 2 men and a 15-year-old girl.  A cell of Moroccan terrorists was arrested.  (“Fatal Knife Attack in Finland Is Investigated as Terrorism,” by Christina Andersonaug, New York Times, Aug. 19, 2017.)

The U.S. Supreme Court recently removed the cases regarding EO-2 from the Court’s oral argument calendar, and directed the parties to file briefs (due tomorrow) addressing whether, or to what extent, the Proclamation issued on September 24, 2017, and the expiration of portions of EO-2, may render the cases moot.  The “Presidential Proclamation Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry Into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats” (Sept. 24, 2017) suspends or limits entry of nationals, subject to categorical exceptions and case by-case waivers, from Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, and Somalia.

A copy of ZOA’s amicus brief to the Supreme Court can be read here.

Center for Law & Justice
We work to educate the American public and Congress about legal issues in order to advance the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
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