ZOA Clarifies AZM Democracy & J Street Issues; Concerned Extremist Ameinu May Bring in Anti-Israel NGOs
News Press Release
June 29, 2021

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

The ZOA proudly congratulates ZOA Coalition member Lori Lowenthal Marcus, Esq. on her election at last week’s AZM biennial assembly, to become an officer (Secretary) of the American Zionist Movement (AZM). AZM is an umbrella organization of U.S. Zionist groups. AZM runs the once-in-five-year elections for the World Zionist Congress (WZC) in the United States. The ZOA Coalition and other right-center groups won a majority of WZC delegates in the most recent WZC election, which took place in January-March 2020. (See “Right Wing ZOA Coalition & Orthodox Win Majority of Delegates in World Zionist Congress.”) In addition to Lori Lowenthal Marcus, ZOA Chair Mark Levenson serves on the AZM leadership cabinet and is an AZM Board member. As is Liz Berney, ZOA director of special projects.

The AZM biennial followed a great deal of controversy. WZC election results determine the composition of the AZM Board, according to an established formula that converts each member group’s WZC delegate numbers into AZM board seats. Unfortunately, however, left wing groups undemocratically maintained their control of the AZM for 15 months after losing the 2020 WZC election, by refusing to seat the additional representatives that ZOA and our friends in the Eretz Hakodesh slate won in the 2020 election. The ZOA and EHK were forced to appeal on several occasions to the Zionist Supreme Court to finally successfully obtain the AZM Board seats that we were democratically entitled to. (See “ZOA Praises Zionist Supreme Court Decision: Seat Additional ZOA Coalition Reps. That Were Won in Democratic 2020 Zionist Election,” May 20, 2021.)  

During those 15 months before our additional elected representatives were seated, an AZM nominations committee that was undemocratically dominated by the Left met and recommended a new slate of AZM officers. ZOA thanks ZOA Chair Mark Levenson for his tremendous hard work to insist and assure that the nominations committee nominated Ms. Lowenthal Marcus—despite the Left’s undemocratic control of that committee and the Left’s efforts to skew the nominations committee’s recommended officer slate to the left.    

Unfortunately, however, the AZM nominations committee selected and managed to elect a new AZM Programming VP from the far-left group “Ameinu.” This new VP has publicly endorsed the notorious anti-Israel, anti-Zionist NGO B’tselem. B’tselem demonizes Israel with false “apartheid” and “war crimes” allegations in international public forums, and foments anti-Israel BDS and investigations. We are extremely concerned that this new VP will abuse her position to try to run AZM programs with B’tselem and with similar anti-Israel NGOs. ZOA will work its utmost, along with our staunch allies, such as EHK, Herut, and many others, to try to assure that the AZM Zionist umbrella group will not promote anti-Zionism. It is unfathomable that any Zionist group would support the venal Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions effort against the one Jewish state of Israel, especially when 500,000 Jews live in Judea and Samaria. This population of 500,000 is approximately 7% of the entire Jewish population of Israel, and these 500,000 Jews deserve to be treated with the same care and respect that the Left demand for all Israelis.

ZOA thanks ZOA Coalition member Dr. Gene Berkovich for also running a valiant, well-received race for AZM Vice President of Programming. Gene was a serious candidate, who would have assured that AZM programming promoted Zionism—not anti-Israel hate and falsehoods.  

ZOA would also like to set the record straight about Left’s completely false claims that ZOA and other right-center groups used undemocratic methods and delays to block anti-Israel J Street from joining the AZM. The only real delays and lack of democracy were the Left’s refusal to seat ZOA’s increased elected representatives and EHK’s elected representatives for 15 months following the January-March 2020 election—while the unelected Left continued to try to control AZM.  

As ZOA President Morton Klein explained in an article recently published in the Forward, it was coincidental that ZOA’s efforts to have our representatives seated on the AZM Board occurred before a vote on J Street. Mr. Klein stated: “If it did have something to do with J Street I’d be proud to tell you. J Street is an anti-Israel, horrific organization and we will always fight them—but we fought this to get the seats we were entitled to.”

Moreover, the Left’s recent articles neglected to mention that AZM’s membership committee democratically voted against anti-Israel J Street’s admission, because J Street does not meet AZM’s membership requirements. Among many other things, J Street’s political action arm raises and contributes thousands of dollars to extremely vocal anti-Israel members of Congress, including Betty McCollum (D-MN)—who promotes anti-Israel BDS, repeatedly sponsors bills to cut off aid to Israel, and repeatedly sponsors bills to falsely accuse Israel of wrongly detaining Palestinian Arab “children.” In reality, those “children” are Arab teenage terrorists who murdered innocent Jews—such as the 17-year-old Arab terrorist who broke into the home of an American-Israeli Jewish family and deliberately, brutally stabbed to death a sweet young innocent 13-year-old Jewish-American-Israeli girl who was sleeping in her bed, Hallel Yaffa Ariel. (See also ZOA’s fully documented online book “J Street Sides With Israel’s Enemies & Works to Destroy Support for Israel.”)

Further, the Left’s recent articles neglected to mention that AZM’s “leadership cabinet” only voted to move forward J Street’s application by one vote—and that this occurred at a time when the Left was blocking ZOA’s additional representatives and EHK’s representatives from being seated on the leadership cabinet. Moreover, Ameinu’s president Ken Bob refused to recuse himself from the leadership cabinet vote despite his clear conflict of interest. (Ken Bob doubles as J Street’s treasurer.)  

ZOA was also appalled by URJ (the Reform movement)’s uncalled for criticism of outgoing AZM President Richard Heideman in the Forward article. In fact, Mr. Heideman did an exemplary job as AZM’s president. ZOA thanks Mr. Heideman and all of AZM’s outgoing officers for their service.

ZOA wishes to congratulate the other new officers of the AZM and urges them to remain true to the mission of promoting the Zionist cause.

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