Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein and Chair Mark Levenson, Esq. released the following statement:
We Condemn Racism, the Killing of George Floyd, and Rampant Violence, Looting and Destruction:
The Zionist Organization of America reiterates that, as ZOA President Morton Klein previously tweeted, we condemn and deeply mourn the despicable, horrific murder of George Floyd. ZOA moreover reiterates Mr. Klein’s call strongly urging that the former police officers involved must be held accountable to the full extent of the law. The killing of George Floyd, shown in an excruciating video, was an intolerable, depraved act.
ZOA leadership has a long personal history of anti-racism activism. Mr. Klein fought for Black civil and voting rights, including by attending numerous rallies and sit-ins, and helping to register Black voters in Mississippi in the 1960s. The Mississippi police arrested Mr. Klein for doing so.
We strongly hope that we will all work together to end any anti-Black racism, hatred and intolerance.
At the same time, we condemn the rampant looting throughout the country, the attacks on and murder of innocent citizens and police officers, the throwing of bricks and Molotov cocktails, and the destruction of property by violent criminals during the protests seeking justice for Mr. Floyd. We urge that these criminals be apprehended and arrested and face substantial consequences for their criminal behavior.
We Need Better Police Training and to Weed Out Bad Police Officers— Not Anarchy or Police Defunding or Police Afraid to Defend the Citizenry:
The continued pressure on George Floyd’s neck after he cried out “I can’t breathe” is a stark reminder that bad police officers must be weeded out, and that police throughout the country need to be better trained, among other things, in the use of non-lethal methods, and to recognize, listen and promptly rectify the situation when their actions place someone in medical distress.
But the need to weed out and fix abuses does not warrant defunding the police, and does not justify vicious attacks on the innocent, overwhelming majority of good police officers who are doing their jobs. The need to fix abuses does not warrant “no bail” laws that allow persons arrested for violent acts, who pose a danger to society, to immediately return to the streets. The need to weed out the bad police officers does not warrant blanket orders to police to stand down from protecting citizens and their property. Government officials need to support police efforts to apprehend and arrest criminals, on a color-blind basis.
Defunding the police would create total anarchy, and destroy the country. We’ve already experienced the terrible toll on innocent lives and property resulting from the insufficient police presence and action while criminals destroyed sections of major American cities last week. ZOA also received new reports of New York police officers refusing to arrest criminals who terrorized a kosher grocery store this past Friday, although there were 30 witnesses to the crime. Criminals cannot be permitted to harm the public with impunity.
We Condemn Using the Protests to Target Jews, Synagogues and Churches; and #BlackLivesMatter’s Antisemitism and Anti-Israel Libels:
ZOA condemns the antisemitic defacement of and vandalism against synagogues, Jewish schools and numerous Jewish businesses in Los Angeles, including: Congregation Beth El; Congregation Beth Israel; Congregation Tivereth Avi; Morasha Educational Center; Shaarei Tefilah Synagogue; Kehillas Yaakov Congregation; Baba Sali Congregation; Shalhevet School for Girls; the Kosher Mensch Bakery and Kitchen; Ariel Glatt Kosher Market; Syd’s Pharmacy and Kosher Vitamins; 75% of Jewish businesses in the area; and the Raoul Wallenberg statue. We are deeply troubled that these synagogues were damaged and defaced with antisemitic messages such as “F—Israel’ and “Free Palestine.” We also condemn whoever threw bricks through the windows of the 200-year-old Reform Congregation Beth Ahabah in Richmond Virginia; and the arson attack on St. John’s Church in Washington, DC – all incurring in recent days. We are pleased that there were no known cases of mosques being damaged or defaced.
We are also deeply pained by and reject the divisive blood libels and Der Stürmer-style cartoons, promoted by antisemitic BDS-promoting organizations, falsely and irrationally blaming Jews, Zionists and Israel for deaths of our African-American sisters and brothers.
Those Israel-bashing groups have hijacked the protests to promote their hateful antisemitic agenda. Such groups photo-shopped a keffiyeh and a Palestinian-Arab flag onto George Floyd’s image, and created cartoons showing Israeli and U.S. police jointly sitting on Mr. Floyd’s and Arabs’ necks, to misappropriate Mr. Floyd’s memory to promote their vicious goal of maligning and destroying Israel.
We have a particular concern about the BlackLivesMatter (“BLM”) organization, which has had an integral role in these protests. The Israel-hating BLM/M4BL platform perpetrates antisemitic blood libels, including falsely condemning Israel as a “genocidal apartheid state.” BLM and its platform promotes the antisemitic BDS movement, whose goal, acknowledged by its founders, is to destroy Israel. Prominent BLM leader Rachel Gilmer, who helped draft the BLM/M4BL platform, falsely proclaimed that “Zionism is at its core white supremacy.” A BLM leader wore a shirt promoting the designated foreign terrorist group PFLP, whose sworn goal is Israel’s destruction. BLM (and ally “Dream Defenders”) also traveled to Israel, where they held demonstrations falsely accusing Israelis of greed, hate and stealing Palestinian-Arabs’ land.
BLM and its platform and allies also falsely blame Israel for American police killings of black Americans; and demand an end to U.S. funding to and support for Israel. BLM also allies with the leading anti-Israel BDS groups, who also helped write the BLM platform.
The recent protests have increased BLM’s visibility and legitimacy. Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser painted “Black Lives Matter” on 16th Street, near the White House, and renamed the area “Black Lives Matter Plaza.” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that a street at a “crucial” location in each of New York City’s five boroughs will be renamed “Black Lives Matter.”
We are concerned that BLM will now use its new enhanced legitimacy to more effectively attack and demonize the Jewish State. We are worried that BLM will use its increased influence to elevate the level of enmity of young blacks and others towards Jews and Israel.
ZOA thus urges BLM to immediately retract and rescind its ugly and heinous Israelophobic platform and positions.
As Harvard Emeritus Law Professor Alan Dershowitz wrote:
“Until and unless Black Lives Matter removes this blood libel [accusing Israel of committing genocide] from its platform and renounces it, no decent person — black, white or of any other racial or ethnic background — should have anything to do with it. We should continue to fight against police abuses by supporting other organizations or forming new ones. But we must not become complicit in the promotion of antisemitism . . .”