ZOA Analysis: Israeli Pres. Herzog’s Speech to Congress – Important Positives, But a Few Concerns
News Press Release
July 20, 2023

ZOA Praises Congress Passing A Resolution (412-9) Condemning Ugly, False and Absurd Mischaracterizations of Israel By Jew-Hating Israel Bashers 

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

ZOA was delighted to see the fabulous bipartisan reception that Congress gave to Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s speech on Wednesday.

We also strongly praise and thank the U.S. House of Representatives for overwhelmingly (412-9-1) passing a resolution condemning and exposing the Jew-haters and Israel-haters who absurdly, falsely, embarrassingly and ignorantly call Israel a racist or apartheid state as vile bigots. The resolution also rejected all forms of antisemitism and declared that “the United States will always be a staunch partner and supporter of Israel.”

There were many important positives in President Herzog’s speech that the ZOA strongly praises — Most notably:

  • Herzog provided a stirring reminder of the Jewish people’s history – from the Almighty promising the land to the first Jew, Abraham; to Moses leading the Jewish Israelites to the promised holy land; to the Jewish people mourning the loss of Jewish sovereignty after the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem; to two millennia of national exile throughout which Jews continued to long to return to their ancestral homeland; to the Jewish people returning home and the rebirth of Israel 75 years ago; and to the rebuilding of the democratic Jewish Israeli nation that gathered in the Jewish exiles from over 100 nations, and that has remained peace-loving despite having to defend itself from radical Arab enemies.
  • Herzog also powerfully made the critically important case for strong action to stop Iran’s nuclear capability, instead of relying on diplomacy, saying, among other things: “Allowing Iran to become a nuclear threshold state, whether by omission or by diplomatic commission, is unacceptable. The world cannot remain indifferent to the Iranian regime’s call to wipe Israel (and America) off the map. Tolerating this call and Iran’s measures to realize it is an excuse — is an inexcusable moral collapse. Backed by the free world, Israel and the United States must act forcefully together to prevent Iran’s fundamental threat to international security.”
  • Another important message Herzog conveyed is that the impediment to peace is Palestinian Arab terror against Israelis, and the celebration, glorification and payments of lifetime pensions to the Arab murderers of Jews. Herzog noted: “My deep yearning, Mr. Speaker, is for Israel to one day make peace with our Palestinian neighbors. Over the years, Israel has taken bold steps towards peace and made far-reaching proposals to our Palestinian neighbors. However, true peace cannot be anchored in violence . . . It should be clear that one cannot talk about peace while condoning and legitimatizing terror implicitly or explicitly. True peace cannot be anchored in violence. Palestinian terror against Israel or Israelis undermines any possibility for a future of peace between our peoples. Israelis are targeted while waiting for buses, while taking a stroll on the promenade, while spending time with their families. At the same time successful terror attacks are celebrated, terror is glorified and the families are financially rewarded for every Israeli they attack. This is inconceivable; it is a moral disgrace. Terror is not a bump in the road. Terror is hatred and bloodshed;, it contradicts humanity’s most basic principles of peace. Israel cannot and will not tolerate terror and we know that in this we are joined by the United States of America.”

There were a few concerns ZOA had with the speech however:

  • When discussing Palestinian terror, Herzog should have specified and named President Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority as inciting murder of Jews, and glorifying and paying the Arab terrorists’ families – and to then insist that the U.S. must stop funding the Palestinian Arab projects ($800 million by the Biden administration) that help the PA until the PA stops its reprehensible “pay to slay” payments. Similarly, when discussing Hamas’ evils, Herzog should have called for ending U.S. funding of $700 million to Hamas-allied UNRWA, which promotes violence against Jews. Herzog should have specifically named and condemned Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh for regularly publicly praising the Arab Jew-killers as heroes and martyrs; visiting the Jew-killers’ families to praise them, while glorifying and disseminating posters of them; and naming schools, streets and sports teams and children’s camps after them. Omitting this was a missed opportunity to make more clear that Israel is fighting a monstrous, despicable Nazi-like enemy.
  • It was inappropriate for Herzog to repeatedly laud Israel’s “strong” judiciary, and to essentially oppose badly needed judicial reform in Israel unless there is “consensus.” (Such “consensus” means giving unelected opponents veto power.) There is already a consensus that the reforms are needed: this is what the Israeli people voted for. A strong judiciary is moreover not a virtue when this dominating and even tyrannical and dictatorial judicial strength is abused, as the Israeli Supreme Court too often does, to ignore or re-write democratically-enacted laws, overturn needed security measures (at the cost of Israeli lives), and replace the policies of democratically-elected government officials with the judges’ personal views. Continuing to allow unelected, self-selected Supreme Court justices and Bar association members to choose future Supreme Court justices prevents diversity of Supreme Court interpretations.

Better yet, we believe that Pres. Herzog should simply respectfully have said that judicial reform is an Israeli internal domestic issue which Israel should resolve itself without pressure from anyone outside of Israel – just as Israel should not involve itself in whether America should add justices to its Supreme Court, as many members of President Biden’s party have promoted. We also believe that any speech on judicial reform should have explained that the proposed reforms will make Israel’s system more democratic, not less.

It was also concerning that the White House readout of Presidents Biden and Herzog’s pre-speech meeting stated that they “discussed the need for a consensus-based approach to the judicial reform package.” Herzog’s partisan judicial reform comments were particularly inappropriate because the Israeli presidency is legally a non-political, non-partisan, ceremonial role, and the Israeli president signs a pledge of allegiance to the state of Israel and its laws. (See also ZOA Criticizes Herzog‘s ‘Phony Compromise’ Partisan Far-Left Proposal for Israel’s Supreme Court Which Retains Their Undemocratic Power,” Mar. 16, 2023.)

  • It was also simply inaccurate for Herzog to claim that President Biden has a “decades long ironclad friendship with Israel,” when in fact Biden has done so much to undermine Israel, including threatening to cut off aid to Israel in a hearing in 1982; to during his presidency: calling for a Palestinian (terror) state on the “Auschwitz lines” that would render Israel indefensible; ignoring the Taylor-Force Act by sending over $1.5 billion to UNRWA and the PA to benefit the Palestinian regime, which ends up financing terror; continuing to negotiate with Iran while easing sanctions; insulting Israel’s government as “extreme”; undermining Israeli sovereignty over her united capital Jerusalem by pushing for a Palestinian Arab consulate there; demanding Jews stop building in Judea/Samaria while Arabs build at 10 times Israel’s rate; removing the Israeli flag from his limousine there; refusing to allow Israeli officials to accompany him there; and refusing to visit Hadassah hospital there; boycotting U.S. funding to Ariel University and any projects in eastern Jerusalem or Judea/Samaria while funding terrorist Palestinian and UNRWA projects; refusing to meet Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House; appointing and nominating hostile-to-Israel officials to virtually every position dealing with the Middle East; and pressuring Israel into a terrible and illegal maritime deal that, as former Ambassador to Israel David Friedman explained, gave Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon 100% and gave Israel 0%.
  • It was also disappointing that Herzog’s speech did not mention or highlight the fact that Jerusalem is the sovereign undivided capital of Israel; has never been the capital of any other nation; and is mentioned 700 times in Judaism’s holy books but is never mentioned in the Koran. This was a missed opportunity to inform Congressmembers that the majority of people living in Jerusalem since at least the mid-1800’s were and are Jews; that when Arabs controlled eastern Jerusalem from 1948-67, they destroyed the 58 synagogues there and allowed it to become a slum, and that almost no Arab leaders ever visited the city while under their control. Herzog could have respectfully also mentioned that there should never be a Palestinian Arab consulate in Jerusalem.

We were also disappointed that, during Herzog’s pre-speech meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Herzog praised the U.S. for pursuing the (horrendous) maritime deal, which enriches Hezbollah with billions of dollars, surrenders Israeli resources, and was signed by Israel’s previous temporary interim prime minister, Yair Lapid, without a required Knesset vote. (See Surrendering Israel’s Maritime Waters/Gas Fields, Under Biden’s Pressure, is Illegal and Gives Terrorist Hezbollah Billions,” Oct. 12, 2022.) It was also inappropriate for Herzog to inject his views on this into his meeting with Secretary Blinken, because the maritime deal was and is opposed by the present Israeli government.

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