June 29, 2020
News Press Release

ZOA Demands Apology from URJ’s Rick Jacobs & Others for Denouncing ZOA’s Condemnation of BLM Org’s Antisemitic Israel-Hating Platform

ZOA Urges URJ, Others to Join ZOA in Condemning BLM Group’s Antisemitism & Israel-Hatred

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein and ZOA Chair Mark Levenson, Esq. released the following statement:

The Zionist Organization of America demands an apology and retraction from Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) President Rick Jacobs and other Jewish leaders for libeling ZOA President Morton Klein. After Mr. Klein appropriately called out the Black Lives Matter (“BLM”) organization’s virulent, institutional antisemitism, other discriminatory hatreds, and anti-Israel blood libels, enshrined in the BLM/M4BL (Movement for Black Lives) platform, Facebook page and activities, URJ’s Rick Jacobs called Mr. Klein a “racist” and “Islamophobic” in articles printed in multiple newspapers. URJ/Jacobs also invoked these libelous names to condemn ZOA’s membership in the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (the “CoP”) – an organization that the ZOA co-founded! Certain other leftwing Jewish leaders from the Reform and Conservative Jewish groups, women’s groups and Ameinu, whose president is treasurer of the extremist J Street, and the pro-BDS Peace Now and Workmen’s Circle also signed a letter (see below) falsely accusing Mr. Klein of promoting “hate in organized Jewish life,” and issued numerous similar tweets and website postings.

In sum, Rick Jacobs and those other Jewish leaders are essentially, absurdly, irrationally, and libelously saying that accurately calling a racist, antisemitic, Israel-hating organization “antisemitic” and “anti-Israel” makes one a “racist” and an “Islamophobe” who promotes “hate.”  

These attacks by Rick Jacobs, etc. never give any reasons why Mr. Klein’s criticism of the BLM group’s antisemitism is wrong or false or inaccurate. They provide no facts to back up their name-calling or disparagement. Jacobs and others simply call Mort Klein names, with no explanation. 

Moreover, these inappropriate public attacks on Mr. Klein by certain Jewish leaders may be endangering Mr. Klein and his family. Mr. Klein has already received threatening phone calls to him and his family. This is intolerable and frightening. In this era of raw sensitivities and heightened antisemitism, inappropriate attacks and name-calling of Mort Klein, such as those leveled by Rick Jacobs, etc. against a Jewish leader, must not be tolerated and must stop and be retracted. 

We believe that these attacks are intended to silence, censor, demonize and marginalize Mr. Klein and ZOA for our strong pro-Israel political views, which are fiercely opposed by URJ, Jacobs, and the letter’s leftwing signatories. We believe these signatories want to diminish the credibility of ZOA and Mort Klein, while appeasing the Israel-hating BLM group. We believe they are afraid to criticize the BLM org., fearing this will antagonize them and provoke them to more hostile actions. But as history shows, appeasement always fails.  Journalist Melanie Phillips noted that in “an atmosphere redolent of the 17th century Salem witch trials,” those, such as Mr. Klein, who criticize BLM’s anti-Jewish, insurrectionist side, are called “racist“ and “a Twitter mob then assembles to strip such people of their reputation, platform or job for the crime of telling the truth.”  

The attacks on ZOA and Mr. Klein also violate the rules of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which URJ and the letter’s signatories agreed to.

Rick Jacobs/URJ’s name-calling is patently ridiculous, as well as dangerous.  It is known that Morton Klein fought for Black civil and voting rights, attended numerous sit-ins and rallies for Black voting and civil rights, helped register Black voters, and was arrested in Mississippi for doing so.  

As a child of Holocaust survivors born in a displaced persons camp in Germany, who lost most of his family, including his grandparents, to the worst hatred and racism in history, Morton Klein knows first-hand the tragic results that unbridled hatred and racism can cause thus being acutely sensitive to hatred and racism.   

Condemning the antisemitic BLM organization is not a condemnation of Black people’s lives — it’s a condemnation of the BLM group’s antisemitic platform. Black people’s lives do matter, immensely.  

ZOA and Morton Klein condemned the horrific killing of George Floyd and racism with all our hearts, and promoted police reform.  

ZOA and Mr. Klein also appropriately condemned the attacks on innocent police officers; the widespread looting and riots; and the Black Lives Matter-led pogrom with its destruction of numerous Jewish businesses, and defacing and damaging of about a dozen synagogues and Jewish schools in Los Angeles, including painting the words “F— Israel, Free Palestine” on synagogue walls. 

Courageous, highly-respected journalists and academics, including liberal Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, Melanie Phillips, Caroline Glick, Jonathan Tobin, Ruthie Blum and Joel Pollak, have all condemned BLM.  

For instance, Melanie Phillips wrote: “BLM is an anti-white, anti-capitalist and anti-Jewish hate group,” and praised ZOA for standing up for truth and justice. Professor Dershowitz condemned BLM’s “war on the Jewish people,” and recently reiterated that the BLM platform is antisemitic, and declared on JBS television, “I will defend [Mort Klein] politically, and if necessary, I will defend him legally”, while Glick condemned the “stunning silence” of Jewish leaders to these attacks on Jewish institutions. 

Muhammad Ali’s son, Muhammad Ali, Jr., called BLM “racist,” and stated, ‘‘My father would have said, ‘They [BLM] ain’t nothing but devils.’ My father said, ‘All lives matter.’” Ali, Jr. also said, “Black Lives Matter is not a peaceful protest,” and called BLM divisive, saying, “It’s a racial statement. It’s pitting black people against everyone else. It starts racial things to happen; I hate that.”

It’s also not “Islamophobic” to condemn terrorists who murder innocent Jews and others while screaming “Alluha Akbar.” It’s also not Islamophobic to be concerned about HIAS resettling unvetted immigrants from certain Mideast Muslim-majority countries where, according to ADL surveys, 74% to 93% of the population is antisemitic. We don’t need more Jew-haters and Israel-haters coming to America. We would similarly oppose clearly-recognized Black-haters coming to America. 

Organizations and individuals who demonize and perpetrate violence against the Jewish people must be called out – regardless of their color or creed.

The facts demonstrate that URJ, Rick Jacobs, and all Jewish leaders should join ZOA in protecting the Jewish community. We urge URJ and Jacobs and other Jewish leaders to join with ZOA in a united front, calling out the BLM group’s antisemitism, anti-Jewish violence and anti-Israelism – instead of maligning ZOA and Mr. Klein for fighting antisemitism and defending the Jewish people and Israel.

The BLM/M4BL official platform* and the BLM Facebook page falsely accuse Israel of committing “genocide” against Palestinian Arabs – a vicious blood libel. (Incidentally, Israel’s Arab population today is ten times larger than it was when the Jewish State was re-established in 1948 — that’s not much of a genocide.) BLM condemns no other country but Israel. 

In his article condemning BLM’s war on the Jewish people, Professor Alan Dershowitz aptly explained:

“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. . . . To give Black Lives Matter a pass on its anti-Jewish bigotry would be to engage in racism. Black antisemitism is as inexcusable as white antisemitism or white racism. There can be no double standard when it comes to bigotry.” 

The BLM/M4BL platform and BLM Facebook page also falsely call Israel an “apartheid” state; demand ending U.S. military assistance to Israel; condemn the “global war on terror” and blame Israel for it; and promote antisemitic, anti-Israel BDS – Boycott Divestment and Sanctions. Among other things, the BLM/M4BL platform falsely asserts: “The U.S. justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people.

*These and other BLM smears and attacks against the Jewish people are contained in the “Cut Military Expenditures Brief” section of the BLM/M4BL platform.

BLM also falsely and outrageously claims that Israeli police train U.S. police to target African Americans.

In addition, the BLM/M4BL platform’s anti-Israel “Brief” contains two “resources”: the major “BDS movement” website and a “Black Palestinian Solidarity” website. Similar to the BLM/M4BL platform itself, these BLM “resource” sites contain vicious, incendiary, antisemitic, anti-Israel and anti-American smears, and promote mutual “resistance” against the U.S. and Israel. These “resource” sites falsely accuse Israel of killing and “targeting unarmed civilians” including children; falsely accuse both the U.S. and Israel of “unchecked state-sanctioned racialized violence”; and promote multiple cultural, academic and economic boycott, sanctions, and divestment campaigns against Israel’s Jews and those who do business with or interact with Israel.  

The “resistance” that these groups encourage includes violence. During a joint BLM/Dream Defenders trip to “Palestine” (Israel), attended by BLM co-founder Patrisse Cullors and Farrakhan-praising Israel bashing antisemite Marc Lamont Hill, the BLM/DD attendees “resonated” with Palestinian-Arab statements urging them to “deal[] with the obsession over ‘non-violence’.” An attendee reported

A [Palestinian] sister said in a meeting that until recently, [Palestinians] didn’t have a distinction between violence and nonviolence — it was all resistance.  I think that is so powerful as Black Americans find themselves caught up in this faux binary of good versus bad protester, and that assignment, to one or the other, is often handed down by those in power.”   

report of Amb. Dore Gold’s Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs provides details about BLM co-author Dream Defenders’ extensive ties to the Popular Front for the Liberation Palestine (PFLP), including DD’s propaganda activities and trips to “Palestine” to ensnare Black activists into supporting the PFLP and hating Israel. DD and the PFLP also produced an 11th grade curriculum glorifying the PFLP and Black Panther Party (whose tenets are similar to those of the BLM platform). 

The PFLP is designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. PFLP terrorists assassinated Israel’s tourism minister, blew up airplanes, and attacked Jews praying in a Jerusalem synagogue with guns, knives, and axes, murdering four innocent Jewish worshipers – including three U.S. citizens – and a Druze policeman, and injuring twelve other innocent praying Jews.  

BLM-UK is also openly, repeatedly tweeting and retweeting vicious anti-Israel blood libels and calls for boycotts and sanctions against the Jewish state, including BDS-group “Al Haq”’s demonization of Israel and calls for anti-Israel actions. The Israeli Ministry of Strategic Affairs report “Terrorists in Suits: The Ties Between NGOs and Promoting BDS and Terrorist Organizations” documents that Al Haq is headed and run by designated terror group PFLP operatives and convicted terrorists.  For instance, on June 28, 2020, BLM-UK tweeted: “Mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism, and Israel’s settler colonial pursuits, we loudly and clearly stand beside our Palestinian comrades. FREE PALESTINE,” and “On the eve of Israel’s planned formal annexation of Palestinian land, we stand with Palestinian civil society in calling for targeted sanctions in line with international law against Israel’s colonial, apartheid regime,” along with a series of four anti-Israel actions called for by Al Haq, including ending trade agreements, boycotts, ending military cooperation with Israel, and bringing Israelis to “justice” for their “war crimes.”   

A UK Jewish watchdog, “The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA)” has called out and collected even more of BLM-UK’s vicious anti-Jewish and anti-Israel tweets.

BLM platform co-author Gilmer says “Zionism at its core is white supremacy.”  

Gilmer also wore a PFLP T-shirt, emblazoned with its Arabic slogan promoting violence, during a BLM/DD trip to a PFLP stronghold in “Palestine.”  

During a BLM/DD trip to “Palestine,” BLM and DD also joined anti-Israel demonstrations and falsely accused Israelis of greed, hate, and stealing Palestinians’ land.   

BLM platform co-author Ben Ndugga-Kabuye publicly defended the false blood libels in the BLM platform accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinian-Arabs, and accused Israel of an “ongoing” “state sanctioned” unaccountable “structure of violent deaths.” His group BAJI’s Facebook page shows his group screaming: “Free, free Palestine, Stop Deportation.”

BLM also tweeted: “We stand in solidarity with the people of #Palestine,” and promoted “DCI-Palestine” and a “DCI-Palestine” program with leading anti-Israel demonizers and BDS leaders.  As the Israeli government report “Terrorists in Suits: The Ties Between NGOs and Promoting BDS and Terrorist Organizations” documents, “DCI-Palestine” (Defense of Children International-Palestine”) is another Ramallah-based anti-Israel, BDS group run by the PFLP terrorist group’s operatives.  

Rabbi and Law Professor Dov Fischer wrote about the recent BLM-led pogroms: 

“The Black Lives Matter pogrom saw attacks on Temple Beth El, Baba Sali Congregation, the Kosher Mensch Bakery and Kitchen, Cong. Beth Israel, Cong. Beth Tivereth Avi/Morasha, Shaarei Tefilah Synagogue, Shalhevet Yeshiva High School for Girls, and a Shul wall on which were spray-painted anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slogans. The Black Lives Matter pogromists even — get this! — defaced a statue of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who lost his life during the World War II era by leveraging his diplomatic status to save thousands of Hungarian Jews from being gassed and cremated by Hitler’s Nazis in Auschwitz. . . .

Jews on the scene during the Fairfax, Los Angeles pogrom reported chants of “F___ the police and kill the Jews” and screams of, ‘F___ Jews.’

A key instigator of the Fairfax (Jewish district), Los Angeles pogrom, BLM-Los Angeles lead organizer Melina Abdullah, has an alarming record of antisemitism and anti-Zionism, and is a strong supporter and defender of notorious Nation of Islam Jew-basher (“Judaism is a gutter religion”; “Jews are Satan”) Louis Farrakhan. Abdullah complained that the Women’s March included “Zionists,” and accused CNN of standing “with a Zionist Israel that murders and terrorizes the Palestinian people” when CNN didn’t renew Jew-hater Marc Lamont Hill’s contract. BLM-LA also partnered with the Nation of Islam.  

It’s time to stop demeaning and falsely accusing ZOA and Morton Klein for simply having the courage to stand up against antisemitism of the group BLM. 

ZOA Praises Stuart Applebaum, Jewish Labor Committee for their Apology:

Stuart Applebaum, President of the Jewish Labor Committee, originally signed the June 12 joint letter discussed below. But then, Mr. Applebaum spoke to Mort Klein and stated that after examining ZOA’s stance on BLM, Mr. Applebaum realized that Mr. Klein and ZOA are not promoting hate. Mr. Applebaum stated that he regretted signing the June 12 letter, and apologized to Mr. Klein. 

Signers of a Joint Letter, etc., Condemning Mort Klein for Correctly Condemning the Group BLM’s Antisemitism and Israel Hatred Also Need to Apologize and Retract Their Hateful Statement.

Fifteen left-leaning organizations’ leaders piled on, along with Rick Jacobs/URJ. In a widely-published letter, tweets and website postings, these organizations’ leaders condemned Mort Klein’s tweets about the group BLM’s antisemitism, etc. Similar to Rick Jacobs/URJ’s name-calling, this group letter and accompanying tweets and postings are devoid of facts. The letter, website postings, and tweets never even mention BLM’s hateful platform and activities, or the shocking attacks on numerous Jewish businesses, synagogues and schools in Los Angeles.  

ZOA accordingly demands that these signers apologize to ZOA and Mr. Klein, and join us in condemning BLM’s hateful platform, dangerous demonization of Israel and hateful activities:

  • Kenneth Bob, President, Ameinu (Bob also serves as J Street’s Treasurer); 
  • Hadar Susskind, President and CEO, Americans for Peace Now (APN also openly promotes partial anti-Israel BDS); 
  • Rabbi Bennett Miller, National Chair, ARZA; 
  • Rabbi Hara Person, Chief Executive, Central Conference of American Rabbis;
  • Robert Aronson, Chair, HIAS;  
  • Meredith Jacobs, CEO, Jewish Women International; 
  • Janet Gurvitch, President, Na’amat USA; 
  • Marilyn Wind, President, MERCAZ USA;
  • Sheila Katz, CEO, National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW); 
  • Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal, Chief Executive, Rabbinical Assembly;
  • Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President , Union of Reform Judaism (URJ); 
  • Ann Toback, CEO, The Workers Circle; 
  • Leslie Lichter, Interim CEO, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism;
  • Rabbi Marla Feldman, Executive Director, Women of Reform Judaism; and• Rabbi Ellen S. Wolintz-Fields, Executive Director, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism

After the antisemitic pogrom in Los Angeles, it’s long-past time for left-leaning and all Jewish organizations to join ZOA and Morton Klein in combatting all forms of antisemitism – instead of attacking us and trying to vilify us for standing up for the Jewish people and Israel.