December 19, 2018
News Press Release

ZOA Praises Sen. Cruz & Cotton Resolution Supporting Israeli Sovereignty Over Golan Heights

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Director of Special Projects Liz Berney, Esq. released the following statement:

The ZOA thanks and praises Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) for introducing a Senate resolution resolving that: “Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights is critical to Israel’s national security . . . it is in the United States’ national security interest to ensure Israel’s security . . . and the United States should recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.” (See resolution text at Sens. Cruz, Cotton Introduce Resolution Encouraging the United States to Recognize Israel’s Sovereignty Over Golan Heights,” Sen. Cruz press release, Dec. 18, 2018.)

It is frightening to imagine the nightmare of insecurity and bloodshed that would occur if the Golan Heights was controlled by Syria. Strengthening Israel’s right to the Golan will save countless lives.

It is indeed in the security interest of the United States to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan. In November, the Trump administration took the praiseworthy, important step of voting against (instead of merely abstaining from) a United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning Israel for alleged “occupation” of the Golan Heights. The Trump administration should now take the additional step of recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan, thereby enhancing vital U.S. security interests and Middle East stability.

ZOA President Morton Klein explained:

U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the western two-thirds of the Golan Heights would strengthen a key bulwark against radical regimes and affiliates that threaten the security and stability of the United States, Israel, the entire Middle East region, and beyond. Syria is a chaotic, dangerous mix of the murderous Syrian Assad regime that slaughters its own people; Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Quds forces that shoot missiles/drones into Israel; Iranian proxies including Iranian-armed Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fighters; radical Sunni Islamist groups related to AL-Qaeda; and ISIS.  It is frightening to imagine the nightmare of insecurity and bloodshed that would occur if the Golan Heights was controlled by Syria. Strengthening Israel’s right to the Golan will save countless lives.

Israel also has the superior claim to the area. Jewish history in the Golan dates back to Biblical times. “Golan in Bashan” was a Biblical refuge city.  Vibrant Jewish communities filled the Golan until the 8th century CE.  Remains of 34 synagogues have been uncovered there.  In 1891, Lord Rothschild purchased 18,000 acres in the Golan, and Jewish farmers again tilled the land in the Golan in late 1800s and early 1900s. The Golan was originally part of the 1922 Mandate designated as a “sacred trust” for the Jewish homeland – but then Britain – without authorization – traded most of it away to the French for British rights to Iraqi oil fields. Syria unlawfully captured the rest of the Golan when Syria and five other countries invaded Israel in 1948-1949. Syria then used the area to persistently shoot at Jewish farmers in the Hula Valley. Israel reconquered the Golan in the defensive 1967 war. Ever since then, Syria has adamantly refused to make peace with Israel.  It would be pure insanity to even contemplate turning over the Golan to the brutal, deadly Syrian regime. As the resolution’s drafters stated, it’s long past time to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.”

The Cruz-Cotton Senate resolution’s whereas clauses recite the following additional background as to why the U.S. should finally recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan:

[ ], until 1967, Syria controlled the Golan Heights and used the topographical advantage it provided to attack Israeli troops and civilians;

[ ], in June 1967, Syria intensified its attacks against Israel from the Golan Heights, and Israel captured the Golan Heights in a defensive war;

[ ], in October 1973, the Golan Heights provided Israel with critical strategic depth to repel a surprise attack by Syrian forces;

[ ], on September 1, 1975, President Gerald Ford provided a diplomatic assurance to Israel that “the U.S. will support the position that an overall settlement with Syria in the framework of a peace agreement must assure Israel’s security from attack from the Golan Heights” and that “the U.S. has not developed a final position on the borders. Should it do so it will give great weight to Israel’s position that any peace agreement with Syria must be predicated on Israel remaining on the Golan Heights”;

[ ], in October 1991, Secretary of State James Baker provided a diplomatic assurance to Israel that “the United States continues to stand behind the assurance given by President Ford to Prime Minister Rabin on September 1, 1975”;

[ ], in 1981, Israel applied its “law, jurisdiction, and administration” over the Golan Heights and has controlled the Golan Heights for 51 years;

[ ], since 2011, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has killed hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians, including with weapons of mass destruction, and has pursued an ethnic cleansing campaign against Syrian Sunnis;

[ ], Iran has used the war in Syria to establish a military presence in the Levant, including thousands of Iranian troops and proxies, and now seeks to create territorial corridors that solidify its control, expand its activities, establish a permanent military presence, and provide arms to its terrorist proxies;

[ ], Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and the leaders of Iran regularly threaten to wipe out Israel;

[ ], Whereas Iran and its proxies have repeatedly attacked Israel from inside Syria, including in February 2018 when Iranian forces infiltrated Israel with a drone and in May 2018 when Iranian forces shelled the Golan Heights;

[ ], in December 2014, Congress unanimously resolved that the United States supported the sovereign right of the Government of Israel to defend its territory and its citizens from attacks against Israel by Hamas, a terrorist group supported by Iran; and 

[ ], Israel’s control over the Golan Heights provides a defensible border, deters attacks from hostile forces, facilitates intelligence gathering, and allows Israel to detect threats to its national security.  

On July 17, 2018, ZOA President Morton Klein, along with Israeli Ambassador Dore Gold, Dr. Michael Doran, and Professor Eugene Kontorovich, testified in Congress, in favor of U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, at a hearing chaired by Congressman Ron DeSantis (who is now Florida’s Governor-elect). A summary of this testimony is available at: “ZOA’s Klein’s Congressional Testimony – U.S. Should Recognize Israeli Sovereignty Over the Golan Heights,” July 19, 2019. Also see Mr. Klein’s detailed, helpful written testimony, illuminating the background of the Golan Heights and security issues; and the hearing video here (Mr. Klein’s oral testimony begins at minute 50:50).