January 5, 2021
Press Release

Part 3- ZOA Examines 4 More Biden Appts for Their Hostility-to-Israel

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

The ZOA examined projected President-elect Joe Biden’s announcement of the following four additional troubling appointees to hold the following positions:  Denis McDonough (Secretary of Veterans Affairs); Pete Buttigieg (Secretary of Transportation); Deb Haaland (Secretary of the Interior); and Symone Sanders (Chief Spokeswoman for VP-elect Kamala Harris).  These appointees have expressed positions hostile to Israel. These sorts of statements and policies undermine the Jewish people everywhere and harm America’s greatest ally, Israel. 

Denis McDonough (to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs)

In March 2015, while serving as Obama’s chief-of-staff, Denis McDonough gave a harsh, anti-Israel keynote speech at the anti-Israel group J Street’s convention.  McDonough falsely called Israel’s presence on historic Jewish lands guaranteed to the Jewish people under international law an “occupation of Palestinian land.”   McDonough further demanded: “an occupation that has lasted for almost 50 years must end.”  (See “ZOA Criticizes Obama COS McDonough For Pro-Palestinian Speech to J Street,” Mar. 26, 2015.)

Pete Buttigieg (to be Secretary of Transportation)

In his revealing foreign policy speech on June 11, 2020 (transcript), then-presidential candidate “Mayor Pete” called for financially penalizing Israel if Israel “annexes” Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria.  (These historic Jewish lands, home to 500,000 Jews, are in fact lawfully designated for the Jewish homeland under binding international law.)

Buttigieg also called for re-entering the disastrous Iran deal, and falsely praised the deal as “as close to a true ‘art of the deal’ as it gets” and “in our national security interest.”  He also falsely claimed that the deal “has helped constrain the military threat that Iran poses to Israel and Europe without leading up down a path to another Middle Eastern war.”  Buttigieg ignored Iran’s increased military and terror activities in the region, financed with the $150 billion of sanctions relief given to Iran in the Iran deal.  

During the same speech, Buttigieg also falsely blamed Israel for lack of peace, saying that there are “increasingly disturbing signs that the Netanyahu government is turning away from peace”; and   falsely partly blamed “policies of the current Israeli government” for Palestinian “suffering” and a “humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”  Buttigieg also used the false “demography” argument – grossly overstating Arab population figures to misleadingly argue that it is necessary to create a Palestinian-Arab (terror) state. Buttigieg also down-played radical Islamic terror threats (never even mentioning the words “Islamic” or “Islamist” or “jihad”), and called for “redirecting” resources to combat white nationalism.  (See also “ZOA Appalled: Israelophobe Buttigieg Plans to Reinstate Iran Deal; Punish Israel for Judea/Samaria Communities,” June 17, 2019) The Observer suggested that Buttigieg is even to the left of Bernie Sanders on Israel.

Similarly, during an October 2019 speech at the anti-Israel J Street conference, Buttigieg called for conditioning aid to Israel to prevent Israel from exercising her sovereignty in Judea/Samaria.  

Deb Haaland (to be Secretary of the Interior)

In June 2020, Congresswoman Deb Haaland (D-NM) signed a vicious letter (proudly announced on Haaland’s website), along with antisemites Ilhan Omar (D-MN), AOC (D-NY), and Betty McCollum (MN-04), etc., falsely accusing Israeli settlers of violence against Palestinians.  

In April 2020, Haaland announced on her website that she had signed another anti-Israel letter (with ten others) demanding that Israel refrain from “annexation” – the misnomer used to deny Israel’s rights to her land.

Anti-Israel J Street president Jeremy Ben-Ami, called Deb Haaland “a hero for J Street.”  Haaland was also one of 5 Congressmembers who participated in an anti-Israel J Street trip to Israel, led by Ben-Ami. 

In May 2018, after Israel had to shoot armed Hamas terrorists who were attempting to breach the Gaza border to “tear out the hearts from the bodies” of Israelis and murder Jewish children (with maps in hand of the routes to Jewish kindergartens), Haaland tweeted: “The murder of 60 Palestinians in Gaza just as Ramadan begins weigh heavy on my heart today. The youngest was just 8 months old. Here are their names.” Haaland failed to mention that Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad acknowledged that almost all the casualties were their militants.

Haaland also refused to acknowledge that Ilhan Omar’s “It’s all about the Benjamins, baby” tweet was antisemitic – even though Omar specifically named a Jewish organization in her tweet thread.  Haaland stated that Sarsour’s tweet only “alluded to campaign contributions”.

Symone Sanders (to be Chief Spokeswoman for VP-elect Kamala Harris)

Symone Sanders (along with Biden’s Secretary of State nominee Tony Blinken) was one of the three senior advisers to the Biden presidential campaign who profusely apologized to radical Muslim groups after another Biden staffer (Andrew Bates) tried to disavow notorious Jew-hater and terror-promoter Linda Sarsour.  (Sarsour and other antisemites spoke at the Democratic National Convention in August.)  

During this meeting, Sanders stressed that the Biden campaign did not equate criticism of Israel to antisemitism, and that the campaign recognizes a “constitutional right to free speech on issues like BDS.”   Sanders thus give a free pass to Linda Sarsour’s vicious, violence-inciting statements – such as Sarsour’s notorious tweet that throwing rocks at Israelis is “the definition of courage.”  Moreover, BDS is economic warfare against the Jewish people; it is not a free speech issue.   (See “ZOA: Biden Must Retract Apology to Jew-Hating, Israel-Hating Sarsour, and Disassociate From Her,” Aug. 25, 2020.)

Symone Sanders also retweeted an Emgage tweet saying “.@lsarsour has dedicated her career to fighting for justice.” (In fact, Sarsour stands with terrorists, including murderer Rasmea Odeh. Emgage is the radical Islamic group that sponsored the Million Muslim Votes Summit featuring Biden, Ilhan Omar, and Hamas- and Hezbollah-praising leaders from CAIR and MPAC.)  Sanders also again tweeted the campaign’s view that criticizing the Israeli government isn’t antisemitism.