Why AIPAC’s and Other’s Refusal to Meet Israeli Finance Minister Smotrich is a Harmful Mistake
March 9, 2023

If AIPAC and the Conference of Presidents and Other Jewish Groups Can Meet With Terrorist Jew-Haters Arafat And Abbas, They Can Surely Meet With Israeli Patriot Minister Of Finance Smotrich

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

The refusal of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and other Jewish groups (e.g., the Conference of Presidents, Reform and Conservative movements, AJC, ADL) to meet with Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich is an unjustified mistake that harms Israel, the Jewish people, and AIPAC’s and others’ stated mission of “advancing the U.S.-Israel relationship.” AIPAC and other Jewish groups meet with the Palestinian regime’s terrorist dictator, Jew-hater Mahmoud Abbas, who pays Arabs to murder Jews, names schools and streets after Jew-killers and praises them as martyrs, calls Jews “filthy,” and condemns Israel’s very existence, yet they won’t meet Minister Smotrich? They’ve met with arch Jew-killer Yasser Arafat, yet won’t come near Smotrich? ADL meets with antisemite Al Sharpton, but Smotrich isn’t kosher.

What irrational hypocrisy. AIPAC’s and other Jewish groups’ boycott of Minister Smotrich also sends a false and dangerous message that the democratically-elected Israeli government and its top ministers are so horrible, worse than Abbas and Arafat and PLO officials, that even an organization that calls itself “America’s pro-Israel lobby” is refusing meetings.

It further makes AIPAC look hypocritical, inasmuch as AIPAC recently met with unrepentant terrorist and terror financier Hussein al-Sheikh (the PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General and PA Minister of Civil Affairs), who vowed to continue making “pay to slay” payments to murder Jews, even if this took the PA’s last penny, and glorified Jew-killers as our “loftiest precious jewel.”

By contrast, Minister Smotrich repeatedly apologized for misspeaking against Palestinian Arabs in Hurawa during a moment of enormous emotional grief and misery due to the continual murder of young innocent Jews – including two Jewish brothers in a family he knew. Minister Smotrich did call for calm and not taking the law into one’s own hands; and repeatedly clarified that he was only speaking about the government acting against terrorists – and not against civilians.

AIPAC’s refusal also gives the hostile-to-Israel Biden administration “cover” for disparaging and refusing to meet with Minister Smotrich, and for possibly even denying Minister Smotrich entry into the United States, further eroding the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Background on Recent Palestinian Arab Terror Attacks on Innocent Jews: One must also appreciate that Minister Smotrich’s strong statement was in the midst of continuing and rampant Palestinian Arab terror attacks, murdering innocent Jews, even synagogue attendees throughout the past year and even more deadly attacks during the last few weeks.

Between March 2022 and now, Palestinian Arab terrorists murdered 41 innocents (almost all Jews). From January 2022 through January 2023 (the last month for which Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) data is available), Palestinian Arab terrorists perpetrated 2,843 serious terror attacks and seriously wounded 145 Jews (in addition to the above murders). During the last five months for which data is available, Palestinian Arab terrorists perpetrated an average of nine serious terror attacks against Jews every single day. Moreover, the MFA explains this data “does not include most of the daily instances of riots, rock-throwing and Molotov cocktails.”

Some of the many recent attacks include: On Friday January 27, 2023 (International Holocaust Remembrance Day), an Arab gunman shot Jews exiting from a Jerusalem synagogue, murdering seven innocent Jews including a Jewish couple who tried to help the wounded, a Jewish boy, three more innocent Jews and a Ukrainian woman (victims: Asher Natan, 14; Eli, 48, and Natali Mizrahi, 45; Ilya Sosansky, 26; Rafael Ben Eliyahu, 56; Irina Korolova, 59; and Shaul Hai, 68), and injuring others. Palestinian Arabs in Hurawa and elsewhere celebrated these heinous murders by dancing in the streets, handing out sweets and launching fireworks.

And, the next morning, Saturday January 28, a teenage Palestinian Arab terrorist shot and seriously wounded two more innocent Jews.

On Friday, February 10, 2023, a Palestinian Arab terrorist car ramming attack on Jews waiting at a bus stop in Jerusalem murdered two innocent little Jewish boys, Yaakov Israel Paley, 6, and Asher Menachem Paley, 8; and a young Jewish newlywed rabbinical student, Alter Shlomo Laderman, 20.

On Sunday, February 26, 2023, Palestinian Arab terrorists ambushed, opened fire and murdered two young Jewish brothers, Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19, as the Jewish brothers drove by the terror enclave of Huwara. Huwara is located along Highway 60, which Jews often need to pass through, and has been the source of numerous terror attacks on passing Jews. The town of Huwara celebrated the Jewish boys’ murder, handing out candies and more dancing and fireworks.

Afterwards, according to a knowledgeable source in Israel, Jews who were understandably enraged by the murders of the Yaniv brothers set fire to a car cemetery owned by an Arab terrorist in Huwara. The blaze accidentally spread to nearby houses. This was NOT the “pogrom” alleged by 120 left wing Jewish leaders and others. There is no proof that anyone was killed.

And the next day (February 27), a Palestinian Arab terrorist murdered yet another young Israeli-American recent Columbia graduate Elan Ganeles, as Elan was driving by Jericho. Elan was visiting Israel to attend a wedding.

Background on Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s Statements: The tweets and other statements by Minister Smotrich after the murders of the Yaniv brothers reveal that Minister Smotrich was deeply in pain over the murders of Jewish boys from a family whom he personally was well acquainted with; nonetheless called for calm and for responding with mitzvahs; did misspeak a statement but made it clear that he is seeking only to stop terror and not to harm civilians.

On February 26, 2023, after Arab terrorists from Huwara murdered the Yaniv brothers, Minister Smotrich tweeted about his personal connection to the Yaniv family, including noting that “Rabbi Shalom Yaniv Yavdla is a kind teacher who educated some of my children in the first grade. His son Hillel [one of the murdered brothers] worked with us with great dedication in the young leadership of religious Zionism. . . . An exemplary humble and righteous family that is simply the beautiful Land of Israel.”

Also on February 26, Minister Smotrich praised the slain boys’ mother’s words, encouraging Torah study and good deeds, as the proper response, saying: “Listen to Esti, the mother of Hillel and Yagel. She stands in the hospital over the bodies of her two sons, in pain and mourning. But she does not call to leave the country or to stop serving in the army or to pay taxes. Quite the opposite. She calls on the youth to increase their Torah study, to do meaningful service in the army and prepare soup to distribute to the soldiers. Blessed are the people whose sons and daughters are these.”

Also on February 26, 2023, Minister Smotrich tweeted a call for calm and not taking the law into one’s own hands, despite the pain of the murder of the Yaniv boys, saying: “My fellow yishuvim, the pain is great, but believe me we are working hard to provide a real answer to terrorism. Since the terrible attack we have only been busy with this. But we must not take the law into our hands and create a dangerous anarchy that could get out of control and cost human lives. Let us as a political echelon formulate the answer and let the IDF win in Israel.”

On February 28, 2023, after a Palestinian Arab terrorist murdered Elan Genales, Minister Smotrich tweeted: “Another difficult morning, where the beautiful face and the moving Zionist story of Ilan Genales are shown and hurt the heart. And the words fall silent.”

Also on February 28, 2023, Minister Smotrich tweeted: “Yesterday was one of the most difficult days in all my years in public work. Against the background of the security and political events, a personal letter from me to the national camp.” Minister Smotrich’s linked Facebook letter revealed his pained emotional state: He described his pain at the murders of Jews during the previous two days; their painful funerals; his personal acquaintance with the murdered Yaniv boys and their family; and his responsibility to calm people down and “ensure that we do not get dragged into anarchy and do not take the law into our own hands.”

Minister Smotrich also wrote about his pain that persons on the Left are rushing to stain residents of Judea/Samaria because of a few “that acted in a disloyal way,” but never show up when residents of Judea/Samaria are attacked every day. He also stated that fighting terrorism is righteous, and that silence is not the way to achieve this.

Regarding Minister Smotrich’s misspoken statement about Huwara on March 1, he used the Hebrew word, למחוק, which has several meanings. It can mean cleared or erased. “Cleared” is the first meaning listed by Google Translate. He thus very well could have meant “cleared” of terrorists from the outset as he himself explained.

On the very same day, March 1, 2023, Minister Smotrich tweeted this important clarification: “For the avoidance of doubt, in my words I did not mean to wipe out the village of Huwara, but only to act in a targeted manner against the terrorists and supporters of terrorism within it and to exact a heavy price from them in order to restore security to the residents of the area.”

On March 1, Minister Smotrich again also revealed his pain at the recent murders of Jews. He retweeted a tweet that quoted Elan Ganeles’s tweet before he was murdered together with “My heart burns for you, brother Elan.”

On Saturday evening, March 4, 2023, on Israel’s Meet the Press, Minister Smotrich apologized, explained that his statement was made when he was in the heat of emotions, and clarified that he was not calling for harming civilians, saying: “It wasn’t the correct word, I misspoke. The statement was made in the heat of emotions. I’m embarrassed that I have to clarify and that there are those who think that I support harming innocent civilians. We need to be clear in our fight against terror.”

Also on Saturday evening, March 4, Minister Smotrich again clarified that he did not mean to harm innocents, when Smotrich responded to U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides’ vicious, undiplomatic comments the previous day on Israel’s Channel 12 News. Nides called Minister Smotrich “a fool” and said, “If I could, I would throw [Smotrich] off the plane (coming to America).

Minister Smotrich tweeted: “I am not angry with @USAmbIsrael and am convinced that he did not mean to incite my killing when he said that I should be thrown from the plane, just as I did not mean harm to innocents when I said that Huwara should be wiped out/cleared. People sometimes use harsh expressions that they don’t mean to convey a harsh message. It happens to everyone.”

AIPAC and Other Jewish Groups Should Meet With Minister Smotrich:

ZOA strongly urges AIPAC to live up to its claim that it is “America’s pro-Israel lobby” by meeting with Minister Smotrich.

The very first item on AIPAC’s policy agenda states that AIPAC “advocates vital security assistance to Israel.” Israel’s finance minister is the key government official who can inform AIPAC about Israel’s finances and financial needs relating to security. AIPAC’s refusal to meet with Minister Smotrich thus harms AIPAC’s own ability to carry forth what appears to be AIPAC’s primary mission.

Indeed, it seems that AIPAC agrees that terrorist launching pads such as Huwara need to be dealt with. On March 7, 2023, AIPAC tweeted: “Palestinian terrorists have turned Jenin into a launching pad for attacks against Israelis, forcing Israeli counterterror units to step up their actions. The PA must clamp down on radicalization and enhance cooperation with Israeli security forces to combat terror.”

AIPAC’s refusal to meet with Israeli Minister Smotrich – over the single statement that Smotrich apologized for and clarified – also makes AIPAC look hypocritical and unfair. On September 13, 2022 (the 29th anniversary of the disastrous Oslo accords), an AIPAC delegation met with PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General and PA Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh. Al-Sheikh is a terrorist who spent eleven years in Israeli prison, and was in the Unified National Leadership of the Uprising (UNLU) for the First Intifada, helping lead the First Intifada in which over 3,000 innocent Jews were injured or murdered. And recently: (i) According to the British law firm Stoke White, there is solid evidence implicating al-Sheikh in the PA’s beating-to-death execution of PA dissenter Nizar Banat in June 2021. Almost two-thirds of Palestinian Arabs believe that Banat’s execution was ordered by PA leaders. (ii) During a July 2021 MediaLine interview, al-Sheikh failed to directly answer whether diplomacy was the only answer, and whether he was ready to put aside weapons and fighting. (iii) During a Palestinian “martyrs’ day” ceremony in January 2023, al-Sheikh vowed to continue the PA’s heinous “pay to slay” payments to Jew-killers “even if we have one penny left. They [Jew-murderers] are our purest, most permanent, loftiest, and most precious jewel.” Al-Sheikh has never apologized for any of this.

And as mentioned in the introduction to this article, AIPAC’s and others’ refusal to meet with Minister Smotrich gives cover to the Biden administration and others that seek to malign and boycott the minister, the Israeli government and the entire Jewish state. We accordingly urge AIPAC and AJC and ADL and the Reform and Conservative and all Jewish groups to meet with Israeli patriot Minister Smotrich.

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