ZOA Condemns URJ Head Rick Jacobs & Other Reform Jewish Leaders’ Statement Demanding a Palestinian State/etc. – Rewards Massacre, Endangers Israel, Defames Israel, Will Lead to More Anti-Israel Terror
News Press Release
February 5, 2024

Jacobs & URJ Previously Supported Anti-Israel Group Black Lives Matter – Now Supports Anti-Israel Palestinian State

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

On January 30, 2024, the leaders of nine North American Reform Judaism organizations, led by Union of Reform Judaism (URJ) head Rabbi Rick Jacobs, issued a shameful and dangerous statement rewarding the massacre, defaming Israel and making thirteen (13) demands on Israel that would result in more anti-Israel terror and existential threats to the Jewish nation. Back in October, Jacobs briefly spoke about the importance of Jewish unity. How quickly Jacobs jettisoned “Jewish unity,” in his zeal to impose on Israel his far-left, extremist, dangerous, hostile-to-Israel agenda! The Reform leaders’ agenda is opposed by over 80% of Israelis.

It’s especially unconscionable that Rick Jacobs and the other Reform leaders issued their statement at a time when Israel is under attack from all sides, and is still reeling from the October 7th barbaric massacre/rapes/torture/mutilations of innocent Jews by Hamas, PIJ, Palestinian Authority (PA) Arab Islamic terrorists, PFLP terrorists and thousands of accompanying Palestinian civilians who were as bad, or worse (if that’s possible) than the “official” terrorists.

We had hoped that October 7th would have woken up the Reform leaders to the existential dangers posed by their left wing policies that have damaged and endangered Jews and Israel for years. Rick Jacobs served on the boards of hostile-to-Israel groups J Street and “New Israel Fund” (“NIF,” which finances groups that promote anti-Israel BDS and that partner with PFLP front groups and anti-Zionist groups including IfNotNow – now active in pro-Hamas demonstrations). Jacobs also defended the corrupt, antisemitic, Israel-hating group BlackLivesMatter and recklessly and absurdly and falsely accused ZOA of “racism” and demanded ZOA and Klein be thrown out of the Conference of Presidents umbrella group when ZOA legitimately and truthfully criticized the BLM/M4BL organizations’ defamatory anti-Israel platform, social media posts, terror connections and anti-Jewish pogrom in Los Angeles. Jacobs is also infamous for joining anti-Jewish demonstrations on behalf of Palestinian Arabs illegally squatting in buildings owned by Jewish charities in Shimon HaTzadik, Jerusalem.

Another signer of the Reform leaders’ statement, the “Association of Reform Zionists of America” (ARZA) leader Josh Weinberg advocates for divestment against Jews living in the historic, lawful Jewish areas over the artificial “green line” (eastern Jerusalem and Jerusalem suburbs in Judea/Samaria). That’s a type of BDS. Weinberg even opposes funding building a Reform Synagogue in the ancient Jewish homeland of Judea/Samaria.

Sadly, the Reform leaders’ recent statement shows that they’ve learned little or nothing from October 7th.

Note: Fortunately, the Reform leaders who signed this shameful statement do not speak for everyone whom they claim to speak for. ZOA members and friends include many Reform Jews who adamantly disagree with the Reform leadership’s harmful, left wing Israel agenda – especially at this sensitive, dangerous time.

The Reform leaders began their recent statement by proclaiming that they “love” their “Israeli siblings.” So how did the Reform leaders express that love? Let us count the ways:

(1) The Reform leaders wrongly condemned the “ongoing West Bank occupation,” demanded that Israel must “commit[] to ending the occupation,” and also called for “halting the construction of [Jewish] West Bank settlements.” These antisemitic demands seeks to remove over 500,000 Jews from their homes in the Jewish homeland, ignore massive illegal Arab construction throughout Israeli-designated areas of Judea/Samaria, and falsely call Israel an “occupier” of her own lawful and historic Jewish lands. (See ZOA Resource “Israel has the Legal Right to the Land Of Israel, Including Jerusalem, Judea-Samaria & The Golan, Under Binding International Law”)

The Reform leaders’ demand reveals that they are frightened Jews who are ignorant regarding Jewish history and international law; are willing to reward Hamas’ Jew-hating atrocities; and are blind to the reality that every time Israel relinquishes her rightful territory, terrorists immediately take over and use the relinquished territory to attack Israel and murder Jews.

(2) The Reform leaders falsely blamed Israel for the lack of peace, and insisted: “Denying the Palestinians’ right to self-determination [meaning, a Palestinian Arab state] is an impediment to peace.” So what was the “impediment to peace” when Arabs were offered – and rejected – a state on the Jewish people’s lands in 1937, 1947, 2000, 2008, 2014, etc., and instead turned around and murdered and maimed thousands of Jews? What was the “impediment to peace” when the Arabs turned the areas under their control in the Palestinian Authority and Gaza into hotbeds of anti-Jewish terrorism?

(3) The Reform leaders insisted on the creation of a Palestinian Arab state on Israel’s rightful lands – even while the Reform leaders acknowledged that “the creation of a Palestinian state will pose serious short-term security threats to Israel.”  Actually, the creation of a Palestinian state would pose serious unending existential threats to Israel. But it is outrageous for Reform leaders – who claim to love their Israeli siblings – to reward Hamas and PA antisemitic violence by calling for any steps that create more security threats to beleaguered Israel – short-term or long term.

(4) The Reform leaders also absurdly claimed that the “serious short-term security threats to Israel” caused by creating a Palestinian state “will be addressed in any peace accords.”

Seriously? Do the Reform leaders seriously believe that a peace accord is going to stop Iran from arming a Palestinian state to the teeth so that it can launch non-stop missiles at all of Israel? No piece of paper has ever stopped the Palestinian Arabs from attacking Israel. Hamas has violated every single ceasefire. The PA has violated every aspect of the signed Oslo Accords, including its obligations to: dismantle and disarm terror groups; end incitement; arrest terrorists and extradite them to Israel; negotiate directly with Israel; not prejudge any outcome of negotiations [there is no mention of a Palestinian state in the accords]; engage in peaceful economic relations with Israel (violated by the PA’s BDS campaigns, etc.); avoid bringing claims against Israel in international tribunals; non-interference with Israeli settlements; and obligation to not engage in foreign relations.

(5) The Reform leaders called for “rejecting any suggestions of forced relocation of Palestinians from Gaza;” and claimed that “such relocation would be in clear violation of international law.” In fact, the discussion is about possible voluntary relocation of Palestinians from Gaza. Many Gazans want to leave. The Reform leaders ignored that Egypt is the party that is violating international law by sealing its borders and barring Palestinians from leaving Gaza. Arab nations are also violating international law by refusing to accept Palestinian refugee asylees.  (See Egypt’s Border Closure Flouts International Law,” by Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, The Hill, Oct. 25, 2023.)

(6) The Reform leaders called for a coalition to “rebuild Gaza” for the Arabs – but said nothing about helping to rebuild burned-out, bombed-out, destroyed-beyond-recognition Jewish communities in southern and northern Israel, from which hundreds of thousands of Jews had to be evacuated and still cannot return to. It will moreover never be safe for Jews to return to those areas if a Palestinian state rules Gaza and Hezbollah’s attacks are not stopped.

(7) Similarly, the Reform leaders called for “rejecting any Jewish resettlement in Gaza.” Calling for Gaza to be Judenrein (devoid of Jews) is antisemitic discrimination, and anti-peace. When 23 Jewish communities lived in Gaza, Gaza was relatively peaceful. But after the Gazan Jews were expelled in 2005, Israel was hit with tens of thousands of rockets, repeated wars and the October 7th atrocities. Why haven’t the Reform leaders learned anything from these devastating experiences?

(8) The Reform leaders failed to acknowledge that Hamas, other terror groups and accompanying Palestinian civilians are responsible for EVERY Arab and Jewish casualty in this war. Hamas could promptly end the conflict by surrendering and releasing the hostages. Instead, the Reform leaders stated that they “agonize over the many thousands of Palestinian civilians, including large numbers of women and children, who have died and been wounded in this conflict, whether by Israeli bombs or Hamas’s misfired missiles.” The extremist Reform leaders ignore the fact that 95% of Gaza Palestinians support the October 7th massacre, according to the Arabs’ own polls.

(9) The Reform leaders failed to call for eradicating Hamas, or for preventing Hamas from having any role in Gaza, Judea/Samaria or a Palestinian state. Instead, the Reform leaders only stated that “eradicating Hamas’ military capabilities” is a just goal and that Hamas must be held “accountable” – phrasing that implies that Hamas can still exist. The failure to call for Hamas’ eradication, coupled with the Reform leaders’ promotion of a Palestinian state, is particularly troubling because the Palestinian Authority leadership has made it clear that Hamas will be part of any Palestinian state and part of any PA rule over Gaza. (See ZOA Strongly Opposes Dangerous Biden Plan for Palestinian Authority (Pay to Slay) Terror Regime to Rule Gaza & Create a State,” Jan. 10, 2024)  

(10) The Reform leaders demanded that Israel “Forcefully address[] settler violence against Palestinians.”  “Settler violence” is a defamatory calumny. Jewish settlers are not running around attacking Palestinians. The real problem is “West Bank” Palestinian Arabs’ constant, daily, deadly attacks on Jewish civilians, which have caused dozens of Jewish deaths each year and hundreds of injuries to innocent Jews!  (See the long – but incomplete – list of daily serious terror attacks perpetrated by Palestinian Arabs against innocent Israeli Jews compiled by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at Wave of Terror, 2015-2023.)

(11) The Reform leaders also demanded that Israel must “deliver[] swift and regular humanitarian aid to Gazans struggling against illness and hunger, with safeguards monitored by the international community to ensure that such aid is not diverted to Hamas.” This demand ignores that Israel is already enabling the delivery of hundreds of truckloads to Gaza each day, and implies that Israel is not already doing so. In addition, calling for the “international community” to ensure non-diversion makes no sense. The “international community” has completely failed to stop Hamas from seizing and distributing the aid to its fighters and supporters. It is also unconscionable that the Reform leaders do not tie aid deliveries to assuring that the hostages receive aid and medicine.

(12) The Reform leaders also demanded that Israel must “prevent[] the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, including through the delivery of tax revenue currently being delayed by Israel.” This demand violates Israeli law and the humanitarian necessity to stop funding the Palestinian Authority while the PA continues to pay terrorists lifetime pensions for murdering Jews (“pay-to-slay”). If the Reform leaders really love their Israeli siblings, they should demand that the PA must not receive one penny until the PA stops spending $400 million/year to fund its heinous “pay-to-slay” practices.

If the Reform leaders really love their Israeli siblings, they should also demand that the PA must not receive one penny while PA-run schools indoctrinate students to become Jew-hating, murderous terrorists. See Education for Terrorism in Palestinian Schools,” Impact.se report, Nov. 2023, demonstrating that PA schools pro-terrorism education is more radical than ever, including glorifying Hamas and its October 2023 atrocities, and calling Jews “prophet-killers” and “enemies of God and humanity,” and calling for committing “jihad” against the Jewish “enemy” and “redeeming Palestine with our blood.”

(13) The Reform leaders also demanded “opposing any efforts toward unilateral annexation by Israel of areas of the West Bank.” Again, the Reform leaders’ demand ignores international law. The term “annexation” falsely implies that Israel has no rights to Judea/Samaria. In fact, Israel has the lawful right to Judea/Samaria, and doesn’t need to “annex” it. Israel only needs to exercise its pre-existing sovereignty rights.

(14)  The Reform leaders also demanded that Israel “stop[] incitement to violence, racism, and use of dehumanizing language against Palestinians by government ministers and others” – thereby demonizing government ministers who simply called for the eradication of Hamas terrorists. Moreover, despite the fact that the real, persistent, horrendous incitement comes from the Palestinian Authority, the Reform leaders only called for the PA to take “concrete steps” towards halting incitement – instead of simply putting a stop to it.

(15) It is also extremely concerning that the Reform leaders refuse to respect the Israeli public’s and Israeli government’s justified, lawful and intelligent opposition to what would be an Iranian-proxy Palestinian terror state that endangers every Israeli and is an existential threat to Israel’s continuing existence.

Israel can do without the Reform leaders’ brand of “love.” ZOA urges our brothers and sisters who are members the Reform Jewish community to contact their Reform rabbis and the national leaders of the Reform movement to rethink and retract this dangerous hostile-to-Israel document recently released.

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