ZOA Opposes Nominating Former Obama Official Jack Lew to Become U.S. Amb. To Israel
News Press Release
August 16, 2023

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

In June 2015, while President Obama’s negotiating team, sitting in a palace in Vienna, was in the last stages of appeasing the terrorist Islamic Republic of Iran, with Obama’s head negotiator bursting into tears at the negotiating table, and begging Iran to enter into the disastrous anti-American, anti-Israel Iran deal (the “JCPOA”), Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jack Lew (who had also previously served as Obama’s Chief of Staff) appeared at the annual Jerusalem Post Conference in New York, to try to promote the JCPOA and its almost-as-bad predecessor, the interim Iran deal (the “JPA”).

During Secretary Lew’s lengthy conference speech, Lew stuck to and trotted out every Obama administration line (and lie) to try to sell the Iran deal to the American-Jewish public. Lew pledged that “the final deal will be built around an incredibly robust and intrusive inspections regime on Iran’s nuclear program” and that “this deal will only be finalized if the connective tissue of the agreement meets a tough standard of intense verification and scrutiny.”

But in fact, the deal placed military facilities (where nuclear weaponization development was most likely to take place) off limits to inspectors; placed virtually insurmountable obstacles in the way of inspecting potential secret sites; gave Iran significant notice before inspectors would arrive; and, in a side deal, even allowed Iran to take its own soil samples. In other words, the opposite of the “incredibly robust and intrusive inspections” and “intense verification” promised by Lew.

Lew also assured the crowd in New York: “we are not operating on an assumption that Iran will act in good faith.” But that assurance was belied by Obama’s Neville-Chamberlain-like lead Iran-deal negotiator, Wendy Sherman, who absurdly said in her book that the Iran deal “was anchored by a common wish to make peace,” “higher principles,” “reimagining of the world,” and seeing the Iranians as “partners.”

Early in his speech, Jack Lew also asserted that “what we are doing [is] to effectively guarantee that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon. Making sure Iran never gets a nuclear weapon is a national security priority of the highest order.” But “never” apparently really meant ten years – or even one year. Lew later mentioned: “Under the agreement we are pursuing, for at least 10 years, Iran will be kept at least one year away from having enough enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon.” Obama also admitted that, at most, after 13 to 15 years, all nuclear restrictions on Iran end.

For this reason and much more the Zionist Organization of America strongly opposes nominating Jack Lew to become U.S. Ambassador to the Jewish State of Israel.

Secretary Lew also had the gall to claim during his Jerusalem Post conference speech that “No administration has done more for Israel’s security than this one.” That’s not exactly the truth of an Obama administration that was about to enrich the extremist antisemitic terrorist Iranian mullahs with $150 billion of sanctions relief; repeatedly called for Israel to retreat to the suicidal pre-1967 lines with hypothetical small swaps (meaning, the 1948 “Auschwitz lines”); sent huge annual sums to the Palestinian Authority – thereby helping to enable the PA’s “pay to slay” payments to Palestinian and Israeli Arabs to murder Jews; sent Egypt $1 billion of the latest weaponry during the frightening one-year period when the Muslim Brotherhood was in charge; repeatedly castigated Jews for building a few apartments in the Jewish homeland; and much more.

The savvy Jerusalem Post crowd was not pleased with Lew’s lines. Multiple news outlets reported that the crowd booed and heckled Lew “loudly and consistently”; shouted out “nonsense” in response to Lew’s nonsense; and had “one of the surliest reactions ever accorded to such a high-ranking administration official by a Jewish audience in the United States.”

Sadly, it may be time to “boo Lew” again. The news that Jack Lew is the front runner to become the new U.S. Ambassador to Israel is deeply concerning. The fact that Jack Lew served as Chief of Staff to the most hostile-to-Israel U.S. president ever says volumes about Lew’s inappropriateness for the ambassador to Israel post. But it gets even worse.

In addition to shilling for the terrible Iran deal, Lew promoted a slew of other anti-Israel policies. These include Lew’s support for: the infamous virulently anti-Israel, antisemitic UN Security Council Resolution 2334; discontinuing using American vetoes to support Israel at the UN Security Council; insisting on the creation of a dangerous Palestinian Arab (terrorist dictatorship) state on Israel’s lawful land; opposing moving the U.S. Embassy to Israel’s capitol of Jerusalem; blaming Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for the partisan divide regarding Israel created by President Obama; falsely claiming Netanyahu was more hostile to Obama than Obama was to Israel; opposing Jewish communities in the Judea/Samaria and eastern Jerusalem and maligning Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s much-needed 2015 speech before Congress opposing the Iran deal as a “provocation.”

Jack Lew moreover promoted anti-Israel UNSC Resolution 2334 by portraying the Obama administration as merely not vetoing the resolution, and by downplaying the resolution as simply carrying out U.S. administration policy opposing settlements when it was so much worse than that.

In fact, UNSC Resolution 2334 absurdly, shockingly and falsely labeled Judaism’s holiest places, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, as well as Judea and Samaria, the Jewish Quarter, Hebrew University, Hadassah Hospital and the Mount of Olives (the site of the oldest Jewish cemetery in the world) as “occupied Arab land”; falsely claimed that the Jewish presence and homes in these historic Jewish lands has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation of international law”; and promoted BDS (anti-Israel boycotts, divestment, and sanctions).

UNSC Resolution 2334 was so bad that the U.S. Congress immediately and overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan Congressional resolution (H. Res. 11) condemning UNSC 2334 when Congress returned into session in January. Yet Jack Lew defended allowing the passage of this vicious Israelophobic UN Resolution.

Moreover, Obama didn’t only “not veto” UNSC 2334. Then-Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon revealed that the Obama administration orchestrated this terrible resolution; twisted allies’ arms to vote for it; and was trying to orchestrate yet another extreme, anti-Israel UN resolution during Obama’s final weeks in office.

Rabbi Prof. Dov Fischer wrote an open letter after UNSC Resolution 2334’s passage, imploring Secretary Jack Lew to resign, in solidarity with the Jewish people. This was Secretary Lew’s moment, Rabbi Fischer wrote, to earn a place in Jewish history by putting standing with the Jewish people above the high government position that Lew had attained. Rabbi Fischer reminded Secretary Lew of the great Don Isaac Abravanel, Minister of Finance to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in 15th century Spain. Although Don Isaac Abravanel could have remained in his high position in Spain, he instead joined his fellow Jews who were being expelled. Sadly, Secretary Jack Lew missed the opportunity to become a stalwart Jewish hero; and instead sided with the Obama administration’s hostility to the Jewish State and the Jewish people.

Many additional issues will also need to be explored if Secretary Lew is nominated. For instance, how was Lew – who was Treasury Secretary at the time – involved in Obama sending planeloads with $1.7 billion of cash to Iran?

We also hesitate to raise this, because there should never be a religious test for public office. However, we and numerous commenters are concerned that the Biden administration may be using Lew’s Orthodox Jewish identity as a cover to protect the administration from charges of antisemitism while the administration continues to push President Biden’s long list of anti-Israel policies.

Elevating Jack Lew to the important U.S. Ambassador to Israel post is also particularly unwise when President Biden is already widely viewed as disrespecting Israel and its Prime Minister, due to Biden’s interference in Israel’s internal affairs (including judicial reform), Biden’s $1.5 billion of funding to the Palestinians and Hamas-allied UNRWA; and Biden’s pressures on Israel to take steps that harm Israel’s security, and because Biden has continued delaying inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu to the White House. The previous U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, also enraged many Israelis and pro-Israel Americans, with Nides’ interference in Israel’s internal affairs; pressures to open a divisive Palestinian Arab consulate and to take steps undermining Israel’s security; and nasty comments, such as calling Jews living in Judea/Samaria “stupid” and “infuriating.” Appointing Secretary Jack Lew, who has a history of insulting Prime Minister Netanyahu and a harmful-to-Israel record, will only further harm the U.S.-Israel relationship, at a time when the relationship needs healing.

The Zionist Organization of America thus strongly opposes nominating Jack Lew to become U.S. Ambassador to the Jewish State of Israel.

Our Mission
ZOA STATEMENT
The ZOA speaks out for Israel – in reports, newsletters, and other publications. In speeches in synagogues, churches, and community events, in high schools and colleges from coast to coast. In e-mail action alerts. In op-eds and letters to the editor. In radio and television appearances by ZOA leaders. Always on the front lines of pro-Israel activism, ZOA has made its mark.
Center for Law & Justice
We work to educate the American public and Congress about legal issues in order to advance the interests of Israel and the Jewish people.
We assist American victims of terrorism in vindicating their rights under the law, and seek to hold terrorists and sponsors of terrorism accountable for their actions.
We fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media and on college campuses.
We strive to enforce existing law and also to create new law in order to safeguard the rights of the Jewish people in the United States and Israel.