ZOA Concerned: Biden Appoints Radical Israel-Basher, Sharon Kleinbaum, to U.S. Religious Freedom Commission
News Press Release
August 10, 2021

Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) President Morton A. Klein released the following statement:

The ZOA opposes and expresses deep concerns about President Biden’s appointment of hostile-to-Israel Reconstructionist Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. 

In 1992, Kleinbaum became the spiritual leader of New York City’s LGBTQ synagogue, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST). Kleinbaum has used her pulpit to propagandize against the Jewish state and create sympathy for enemies that seek to destroy Israel. In 2014, dozens of prominent CBST members quit CBST because of Kleinbaum’s obscene anti-Israel antics, including mourning and reading the names of Hamas terrorists during synagogue services. (Hamas’ charter calls for the murder of every Jew throughout the world. Hamas launched thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians and broke 10 ceasefires with Israel in 2014.) Kleinbaum then claimed that those people called terrorists were “children” aged 18 and under―while knowing full well that many Hamas terrorist operatives are 17- and 18-year-olds. 

A CBST gay Jewish activist wrote that Kleinbaum “bashes Israel all the time, making people get up and leave services. . . . She is very vocal in her hatred towards Israel.”

Kleinbaum has also repeatedly sided with anti-Israel boycotters and demonizers, against the Jewish state

On Nov. 26, 2019, Kleinbaum tweeted that she was “so proud of those standing with [BDS activist and Israel-demonizer] Omar Shakir.” Kleinbaum called Shakir “one of the great voices of human rights” and asserted “Israel’s decision to deport him is a travesty.” Shakir heads the Soros-funded so-called “Human Rights Watch” (HRW) – which uses the guise of human rights to falsely defame Israel and Jews; accuses Israel of “war crimes”; compiles lists of Israeli-related companies to boycott; and lobbies for anti-Israel BDS and other actions against Israel at the UN, in Congress, and in other international forums.

Kleinbaum also retweeted a tweet by Kleinbaum’s controversial wife, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, publicly assuring antisemite Ilhan Omar: “Ilhan, you have my solidarity and support. Please do not let this distract you from all the good you are meant to do.”

Moreover, Kleinbaum retweeted Randi Weingarten’s tweet describing antisemites Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory as “warriors for justice and I am honored to know them and work with them & call them friends.. glad to have this meeting today w/ them & @Skleinbaum,” together with a photo of Sarsour, Kleinbaum, Weingarten and Mallory standing arm-in-arm. (Sarsour called throwing rocks at Israelis “the definition of courage” and Tamika Mallory called antisemite Louis Farrakhan the greatest of all time.)

Kleinbaum Promotes Anti-Israel NGOs: Kleinbaum is a Board member of “New Israel Fund” (NIF) – which funnels millions of dollars of grants to notorious non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that demonize, sue and defame Israel and promote anti-Israel boycotts.

Kleinbaum also promotes anti-Israel NGOs that NIF funds directly. On Feb. 20, 2019, Kleinbaum retweeted a video by anti-Israel NGOs T’ruah and Combatants for Peace – which falsely accused “Israeli settlers” of destroying Palestinian olive trees. In fact, the real problem is Palestinian Arabs destroying and stealing Jewish farmers’ olive trees and irrigation systems. See here and here and here.

And alarmingly, Kleinbaum’s used her synagogue’s meetings to hear from NGO “Breaking the Silence,” – one of the worst demonizers and defamers of Israel and the Jewish boys and girls defending the Jewish State. 

Kleinbaum’s promotion of anti-Israel libels conjured up by anti-Israel NGOs’ makes Kleinbaum an especially unsuitable, dangerous choice for the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom. We believe that it is likely that Kleinbaum will also rely on libels regarding religious worship promoted by anti-Israel NGOs, when formulating the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom’s recommendations and annual reports.

Kleinbaum’s views on Israel also make her completely unsuitable to fulfill the Commission’s obligations to make recommendations about Palestinian Arabs’ and various Muslim majority countries’ violations of Jewish religious freedom to “assemble for peaceful religious activities such as worship, preaching and prayer.” (See International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, 22 U.S.C. § 6402(16).)  


Kleinbaum’s presumption that whites are racist will also impede her ability to honestly serve on the Commission for Religious Freedom, and treat all people equally. Kleinbaum retweeted: “Really important thread. It is important that white people find spaces to name their racist failures, the ways they have been both contaminated by and have perpetrated racist acts.”  

Incredibly, in 2014, Kleinbaum retweeted and CBST tweeted for people to go see the Met’s production of the antisemitic opera – Death of Klinghoffer, thereby enriching the producers of an opera that glorified the Palestinian Arab murderers of an innocent, elderly, wheelchair-bound American Jew.  

We also note that the Coalition for Jewish Values, a group of 1,500 Orthodox Rabbis, raised additional objections to Kleinbaum’s appointment. An appointee who is so divisive within the Jewish community is the wrong person for the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom.

ZOA urges President Biden rescind Kleinbaum’s appointment to the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom.

Center for Law & Justice
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