A recent JNS article needs to more clearly expose the true identity of the signers and originators of a falsehood-filled letter to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations . The letter maligned me and the Zionist Organization of America for appropriately opposing the election of HIAS chair Dianne Lob to become chair of the Conference of Presidents, and for explaining how HIAS’s activities conflict with the Conference’s missions of helping Jews and Israel.
The letter misleadingly identified its signers as caring “young Jews.”
In fact, these “young Jews” were predominantly really George Soros-funded extremist J Street University officials (J Street U national vice presidents, J Street U national conference speakers, chapter chairs, organizers, etc.) or members of other radical anti-Israel groups. Top J Street U signers also tweeted in honor of “Nakba Day” (or “Catastrophe,” referring to the establishment of modern-day Israel) last week; supported teaching a notorious, virulently anti-Israel “Colonizing Palestine” course at Tufts; and boasted about helping to organize J Street’s campaign to insert anti-Israel planks into the Democratic Party platform.
Turning to the falsehoods maligning me and ZOA in this J Street letter:
Lack of Vetting: J Street’s letter (quoted in Ariel Sobel’s article) wrongly claims that it is “odious” and against “Jewish values” to oppose resettling “heavily vetted” refugees of any origin.
In fact, numerous bipartisan experts, including top Obama officials (including former FBI director James Comey and former director of National Intelligence James Clapper) confirmed the weakness of U.S. vetting, and the unavailability of needed information. Preserving our lives and safety is an overarching Jewish and American value that takes precedence over other Jewish commandments. (See ZOA’s amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, pp. 16-39.)
Opposing certain Muslims who are anti-Semitic is not Islamophobia: J Street’s letter (quoted in Ms. Sobel’s article) also misleadingly stated: “to oppose the resettlement of refugees because they are Muslims speaks to deep anti-Muslim prejudice.”
ZOA does not oppose anyone “because” they are Muslim. ZOA opposes the entry of and HIAS’s resettlement of certain persons because they come from nations where ADL polls show that 74 percent to 93 percent of the population is anti-Semitic, and where studies confirm that schools teach hatred of Jews and Israel, and glorify “martyrdom” from early childhood onwards. HIAS may well be endangering American Jews and support for Israel by resettling anti-Semitic Muslims who will also likely oppose strong U.S.-Israel relations and will vote for and lobby for those promoting these beliefs.
Conference of Presidents members are required to assist and advocate for Jews and Israel as members primary mission. A group such as HIAS, whose Jewish clientele is virtually nil, no longer satisfies the membership requirements.
ZOA documents the facts, including:
- HIAS’s Terrorism-Affiliated Partners:HIAS’s collaborates/partners with terrorism-affiliated groups, including Islamic Relief USA and CAIR. HIAS and CAIR also held protests together in Washington, D.C., and organized and co-sponsored a protest in Philadelphia.
- HIAS’s Defense of and Commitment to Work Alongside BDS-Supporting Anti-Semite Sarsour:HIAS’s president and vice president co-signed a letter utilizing the HIAS name with leaders of Israel-bashing groups (including J Street, IfNotNow, T’ruah, etc.), defending notorious anti-Semite and Israel-hater, Farrakhan-admirer Linda Sarsour, and condemning parties who criticize Sarsour, by declaring: “We will not stand by as Sarsour is falsely maligned, harassed and smeared.”
In the same letter, HIAS’s leaders also committed: “We … publicly state our commitment to working alongside her [Sarsour] for a more just and equal society,” and “we are committed to bridging communal boundaries and standing in solidarity with one another. With Sarsour and others, we work as allies on issues of shared concern … .”
Sarsour, in turn, fundraised for HIAS. And HIAS apparently accepted the $45,000 Sarsour raised.
- HIAS Praised Israel-Bashing Anti-Semitic Rep. Ilhan Omar:HIAS has repeatedly praised vicious anti-Semite and anti-Israel BDS-promoter Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), calling her “an inspiration for refugees around the world.” HIAS also stated that they were “honored” to host a reception for her.
- J Street’s Letter Calls the Palestinian-Arab Murderer of My Friend “Hypothetical Arab Terrorists”:J Street’s letter completely distorts my comment at the height of my emotional misery about the vicious Arab terrorist (Khalil Yusef Ali Jabarin) who stabbed in the back and murdered my dear friend Ari Fuld at a shopping mall. Ari, 45, was a heroic American-Israel father of four children. J Street’s letter ignores the reality of his murder, and instead falsely claims that I was speaking about “hypothetical Arab terrorists” and non-Arab critics of Israel. If Jabarin had merely been a hypothetical Arab terrorist, Ari would be alive today.
- J Street’s Absurd Name-Calling: The J Street letter resorts to the worst sort of name-calling, including absurdly and falsely accusing me of “racism.” I am, in fact, a child of Holocaust survivors, and was even arrested and injured by the Mississippi police when I helped African-Americans obtain voting rights in my youth. I’ve spent the past 30-plus years fighting for Israel, fighting for Jews’ and others’ civil rights on college campuses, and combating anti-Semitism.
Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.
This Op-Ed was originally used published in JNS.