Zionist Organization of America National President Morton A. Klein; Chairman Mark S. Levenson, Esq.; and ZOA Center for Law and Justice Director Susan B. Tuchman, Esq. released the following statement:
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) strongly criticized the absurd, unjustifiable and shameful attacks that Ambassador Richard Grenell has endured, especially from Zachary Lipton of Carnegie Mellon University. Grenell is the former Acting Director of National Intelligence, former U.S. Ambassador to Germany, and now a senior fellow at Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Politics and Strategy. Lipton, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon, has falsely and maliciously disparaged Ambassador Grenell on Twitter.
These attacks on Amb. Grenell and his record are hateful and ludicrous and must stop. Grenell’s record shows that he is one of the fiercest fighters against antisemitism and terrorism, and defenders of the Jewish people and the Jewish State of Israel. Here are just a few of many examples:
- From day one on the job as ambassador to Germany, Grenell encouraged German companies to cut ties with Iran. He pushed back against the Angela Merkel administration’s minimization of Iran’s threats to destroy Israel. Describing Iran’s threats as “antisemitic,” Grenell stated, “Threatening the destruction of Israel is something that should not be dismissed, especially when the threats come from Iranian regime officials who regularly use terrorism as a weapon of intimidation. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.”
- Grenell successfully pushed Germany to ban Hezbollah based on the group’s support for terrorism and antisemitism, enabling authorities to stop anti-Israel marches that have included the chanting of antisemitic slogans.
- Grenell played a key role in getting Germany to deport convicted Palestinian Arab terrorist Rasmea Odeh from the country. Odeh was convicted for her role in a suicide bombing at a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969, which killed two Hebrew University students. When she later immigrated to the U.S., Odeh was deported to Jordan for having lied on her immigration forms.
- Grenell led the effort to deport a former Nazi concentration camp guard from the U.S. to Germany. Grenell acknowledged that there were “difficult conversations” because the Nazi was not a German citizen and was stateless after he lost his U.S. citizenship. But Grenell stated that “the moral obligation” to take in “someone who served in the name of the German government was accepted.”
- When Germany’s antisemitism commissioner cautioned Jews about wearing a kippah in public due to rising anti-Jewish attacks, Grenell soundly rejected the warning, writing, “Wear your kippa. Wear your friend’s kippa. Borrow a kippa and wear it for our Jewish neighbors. Educate people that we are a diverse society.
- In addition to the ZOA, many major Jewish organizations have publicly expressed their appreciation of Grenell’s work and his service to our country. Dan Mariaschin, CEO of B’nai B’rith International, lauded Grenell as “a strong and clear voice against antisemitism in Europe, and in calling out the Iranian regime’s hegemonism and sponsorship of terrorist groups.” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said that “no U.S. Ambassador posted to Berlin in recent history has done more to combat antisemitism in Germany, from neo-Nazis to Islamists linked to Iran and Hezbollah than Richard Grenell.” Cooper called it “a disgrace if anyone tries to smear” Grenell by making false and absurd accusations that he has sought to empower the far-right or anti-establishment conservatives in Europe.
Describing Grenell as “my dear friend and one of the greatest friends of the Jewish people and Israel,” ZOA National President Morton A. Klein strongly condemned Grenell’s detractors at Carnegie Mellon University: “Knowing Ric’s record of fighting antisemitism and terrorism, it’s an absolute disgrace that there is anyone at Carnegie Mellon University who would criticize Ric Grenell, or seek to harm him and his relationship with the university. He should not only be free from disparagement but should also be given an award by the university based on his exemplary public service. In fact the Zionist Organization of America presented Ric with our prestigious Woo Kai Sheng Award for Outstanding Diplomacy at our 2018 ZOA Gala Dinner. After making a spectacular pro-Israel speech, he received a standing ovation.
“Zachary Lipton, an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon, has tweeted outrageous lies about Ric Grenell – and shamefully invoked the memory of the Holocaust to promote those lies. I won’t dignify Lipton’s comments by repeating his lies here. But I am the child of Holocaust survivors and was born in a displaced persons camp. I lost my grandparents and most of my aunts, uncles and cousins in the Holocaust. My father, a survivor of Auschwitz, lost his first family in the Holocaust. I have spent my life fighting Jew hatred in all its forms. I would speak out immediately, without any hesitation as I have done with others, if there was any question about Ric Grenell’s character and fitness to serve in any influential capacity, including at Carnegie Mellon and especially at the U.S. Holocaust Museum.
“My wife Rita and I were Ric’s guests at the ambassador’s residence in Berlin, Germany, when he was serving as the U.S. Ambassador. I spoke at the local shul there and met with the Chabad rabbi who raved about Ric. The rabbi told me that there’s been no one else like Ric Grenell and nothing that Ric wouldn’t do to support and protect the Jewish community. Ric is obviously so proud of his relationship with the Jewish community. A photo of Ric with the rabbi, embracing one another, was prominently displayed in the living room at the ambassador’s residence.
“We at the ZOA know firsthand that we can count on Ric Grenell to fight antisemitism and stand up for the Jewish community. In 2018, Susan Tuchman and I sought justice for a Jewish professor at Johns Hopkins University who was the victim of antisemitism in Germany. The professor was there to deliver a keynote university address. While walking in a park with a friend, wearing his kippah, the professor was physically assaulted by a self-identified Palestinian Arab man, who repeatedly grabbed for the professor’s kippah while yelling ‘no Jews in Germany’ and other anti-Jewish slurs. When the police arrived, they didn’t apprehend the antisemitic attacker. They tackled and physically assaulted the Jewish professor instead. Making matters worse, they later threatened the professor with false charges if he proceeded with a complaint against the police, which he courageously pursued anyway.
“We went to several prominent U.S. government officials, seeking help in obtaining justice for this Jewish professor. While some helped, no one did so more vigilantly than Ambassador Ric Grenell and his staff.
“Zachary Lipton and others should retract their shamefully baseless attacks against Ric Grenell and apologize to him. All efforts to disparage him or to threaten his position at Carnegie Mellon should stop immediately. No one has fought harder for the Jewish people and the Jewish state. Ric is an important and valuable addition to Carnegie Mellon University. He will be a very important and very valuable addition to the U.S. Holocaust Museum. The university should make that clear and speak out forcefully for this great public servant who has valiantly fought against antisemitism and against Israel hatred and terrorism, and stood up for human rights.”