April 27, 2012, New York -- Hundreds of Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) activists from 15 states across the country participated in the ZOA’s Annual Advocacy Mission to Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, April 25, 2012. Meeting with their representatives in the House and Senate, ZOA activists urged Congress to (1) Stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability; (2) Stop all U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) until it starts fulfilling its obligations to end the promotion of hatred and murder of Jews and Israelis, to imprison anti-Israel terrorists, and to outlaw terrorist groups such as Hamas, and until the PA stops pursuing unilateral recognition of a Palestinian Arab state at the United Nations; and (3) Support the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act, which restates a 1995 law requiring that the U.S. Embassy be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel.
At the ZOA’s Congressional Luncheon, held prior to the congressional meetings in a magnificent room in the Russell Senate Office Building, ZOA activists heard speeches from both Democratic and Republican U.S. Senators and House Members, who joined them at the luncheon. Here is a sampling of their comments:
Cong. Eric Cantor (R-VA): The House Majority Leader thanked the ZOA saying that “ZOA has always, has always been a stalwart defender of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. . . There are many in this town, around the country, and around the world” who say “Israel is the problem. Our job is to set the record straight once and for all. The problem rests with those who seek to deny Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.” The problem is those who deny “the Jewish people’s right to their homeland in the Middle East. . . . From Capitol Hill, there is and will be a strong bipartisan commitment to stand up and stand tall with Israel.” Commenting on the administration giving money to Israel’s enemies and interfering with Israel’s policies, Cong. Cantor said that Congress will ensure that “our taxpayer dollars don’t go to those who seek to do Israel harm and America harm.” In explaining “the reason we support Israel,” Cong. Cantor said, “Israel’s security is inextricably tied to the security of the United States. Now more than ever, our ally needs us to stand tall. . . . We need to provide a very definite stance that we’re not going to tolerate a nuclear Iran.” Cong. Cantor thanked the ZOA for its work, and to Mort Klein he said, “Thank you for being so clear, thank you for that moral clarity you bring to the debate. Carry on with strength.”
Cong. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL): Addressing the activists, Cong. Ros-Lehtinen said, “Thank you for everything you do to strengthen America’s role in the world and to strengthen the America-Israel alliance. . . . ZOA has been one of those outstanding organizations and institutions. It has such credibility, such respect, such admiration, on the House and Senate side. When ZOA says something, we listen. You’re so accurate. This is a friendship that will blossom even more in the future.” People often say, “Israel needs the U.S., but I think we’re safer at night because Israel exists 24/7.” Cong. Ros-Lehtinen raised the often-heard notion that a “settlement” is considered an “impediment to peace. But the Palestinians lobbing missiles – that’s not considered an impediment! What a concept! . . . On Iran, we’re running out of time from stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons capability. We’re buying Iran more time to obtain weapons – that’s what negotiations will do. We get nothing out of these negotiations. Iran gets more time to continue enrichment [of uranium]. We just gave the Iranian regime five more weeks. Enough is enough. No more freebies. No more wasted time. We have to act with the urgency that the situation merits. . . . The Palestinian leadership is still continuing its anti-Israel incitement. It’s still refusing to negotiate with Israel and to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. This administration released just days ago millions of taxpayer dollars to Gaza and the West Bank again. The administration used their authority to roll over Congress. We’re renewing their [the Palestinians’] offices with taxpayer dollars. The answer is to hold them accountable not to reward them. The same is true of the enablers, including the UN. Appeasement after appeasement, diplomacy after diplomacy.” Referring to the letter that she and Cong. Brad Sherman sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, opposing the restoration of funding to UNESCO because of UNESCO’s admission of “Palestine,” Cong. Ros-Lehtinen praised the ZOA: “When the ZOA says it’s going to get to work, we’re going to get more signatures,” that is what the ZOA does. “Supporting Israel means supporting Israel’s sovereignty, including designating its own capital.”
Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ): The Senate Minority Whip received the ZOA’s “Defender of Zion” award and, in celebration of his birthday that day, a huge birthday card signed by numerous members of the ZOA delegation. In presenting the “Defender of Zion” award, ZOA National President Morton A. Klein described Sen. Kyl as “one of the greatest Senators in the U.S. Senate” emphasizing the Senator’s “defense of the United States and defense of the United States’ allies, especially Israel.” Mr. Klein noted in particular Senator Kyl’s exceptional integrity, a person “who treats everyone with extraordinary kindness.” In accepting the ZOA’s award, Sen. Kyl said, “This has been a labor of love for me,” which “will not end with my departing the Senate.” He reflected on the fact that “Arab opposition” to the creation of the State of Israel “continues to this day, spawning incredible suffering. . . . There’s too much talk in the world about ‘If only Israel would . . .’ -- as if the solution is for Israel to change its ways and the Jews to change their goals. . . . That is not the solution. . . . Organizations like the ZOA make the point that Israel has the right to exist, to be the Jewish homeland, the Jewish state. . . . These tensions are not going to go away until Arabs accept the right of Israel to exist. . . . There is nothing more worthy” than fighting for Israel.
Cong. Howard Berman (D-CA): After thanking Mort Klein and the ZOA, the former Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee said that he was “born into a Zionist family in Los Angeles” and during his time in Congress, “there’s no single cause I spend more time on than Israel’s security. . . . On the Israel front, recent events have brought into stark relief Palestinian rejectionism. The problem isn’t the settlements. They were never the obstacle. . . . the Palestinian leadership doesn't have the will or the desire to make compromises to achieve peace. They cannot come to grips with a sovereign Jewish state. Commenting on the Palestinians’ efforts to achieve a state unilaterally through the United Nations rather than through negotiations with Israel, Cong. Berman said, “There will be serious consequences from the United States Congress” if the Palestinians continue along that path. If the United Nations recognizes a Palestinian state, there will be “no recognition from the U.S. and no aid.” After Israeli Ambassador Oren told Cong. Berman that Israel need additional iron dome batteries for its missile defense system, Cong. Berman introduced legislation to make that happen. He thanked the ZOA for its strong support of that legislation. With regard to Iran, Cong. Berman said, “We cannot afford to take any options off the table.” Cong. Berman said that America must bring to justice those Palestinians who have killed Americans in terrorist attacks. The Congressman wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder calling on him to enforce U.S. law and prosecute these Palestinian terrorists. “Not one Palestinian terrorist has been indicted or extradited," even though U.S. law demands this. “We must hold each administration accountable.” Cong. Berman affirmed that “we can never compromise Israel’s security, and can never force Israel to compromise its security.”
Cong. Michele Bachmann (R-MN): The former presidential candidate said, “It’s a privilege and a thrill to be able to speak to an organization that truly does believe in and stand for Israel.” Criticizing a statement issued the day before by the U.S. State Department that “the war on terror is over,” Cong. Bachmann said “that’s incredible.” When she traveled to Israel to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, “110 rockets were deployed from Gaza into southern Israel.” Because of the iron domes deployed by Israel, “not a single Israeli life was lost. . . . The war on terror is not over. . . . There’s a disease in this city – to put on politically correct glasses.” The Congresswoman criticized those who are not “telling the truth about the threat we face. . . . Israel is a creation of G-d. G-d created the Jewish people, but also a land, a physical piece of land that’s eternal and Jerusalem is its eternal capital.”
Cong. Brad Sherman (D-CA): “I’ve been on the cutting edge of maximizing the fight against terror” and “maximizing our sanctions against the government of Iran. We have to be willing to ruffle feathers.” We have to “create the reality: Either you do business with Iran or you do business with the U.S. . . . We need to sanction all the Iranian banks, not just the Central Bank of Iran. . . . It’s time to release Jonathan Pollard. It’s time to move our embassy to Jerusalem, not with a waiver, not with a delay. . . . It’s good to be among so many strong Zionists.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT): Sen. Lee noted that the people of his religious faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, have been friends of Israel for a period that goes back years. “Members of my church share many sympathies with the Jewish people,” with “those who suffer religious persecution.” That is “one of the many reasons why I’m a proud supporter of the State of Israel.” In affirming America’s commitment to helping Israel maintain its military edge in the Middle East, Sen. Lee said, “We have to do this.” Noting that “Israel is our greatest ally in the Middle East if not the entire world,” Sen. Lee stated, “I will continue to resist any effort of the Palestinians to become a state” through the United Nations rather than through negotiations. He suggested that there should be “a new United Nations” that should be called “Friends of the United States.” Sen. Lee said that we “will resist all efforts of the Palestinian Authority to become a state or non-state in the UN, or whatever they want to call it.” He reaffirmed his “commitment to stand behind Israel, America’s ally.”
Cong. Shelley Berkley (D-NV): To Mort Klein, Cong. Berkley said, “Mort, I love you. Thank you for the extraordinary job you do for our people.” When the Congresswoman came to Congress, “I prided myself on being one of the strongest, staunchest supporters of the State of Israel.” The notion that “building apartments in East Jerusalem” is “an impediment to peace is,” Cong. Berkley stated, “ one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard. It’s the Palestinians who are the impediment to peace. . . . We’ll never go back to the 67 borders. . . . There should be no extension of the moratorium [on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria]. Abu Mazen [a.k.a. Mahmoud Abbas] had 10 months to negotiate peace. He doesn't deserve an extension.” We must “never allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. . . . The rest of the world shouldn’t expect Israel to do its dirty work. . . . If Egypt cancels its agreement with Israel, we’ll take away the two billion dollars we’ve been giving them every year. . . . The ZOA’s work has never been more important . . . [to] make sure Members of Congress stand with us and with the U.S. . . . . The future of western civilization depends on this.”
Cong. Steve Rothman (D-NJ): “Thanks to the ZOA for standing up strong for U.S.-Israel relations and the Jewish State of Israel.” Cong. Rothman spoke of his 16 years in Congress where he has stood up for Israel, including his work on two subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee, which resulted in billions of dollars appropriated for foreign aid to Israel and U.S.-Israel joint defense spending. Cong. Rothman’s latest effort was in obtaining additional funds allocated for Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system. Cong. Rothman stated, “We’re going to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. . . . We do not bluff. . . . If it means military force, we are ready, we are prepared. . . . We will prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon.” Noting that “anti-Semitism is alive and well” in the United Sates, including at New Jersey’s Rutgers University, Cong. Rothman noted the problems that Aaron Marcus, a vocal pro-Israel student has faced at Rutgers, and said that he had “contacted Rutgers president personally and told him that this was unacceptable” and “must stop. . . There will be consequences for the university,” he pledged.
Cong. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY): “The Palestinians simply refuse to negotiate. . . . The basic issue . . . is that there can be no successful negotiations until they change. They’re not prepared to accept the legitimacy or existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East. Settlements and borders are important issues, but until” the Palestinians “concede that point, negotiations won’t go anywhere. I hope they change, but for the foreseeable future, there’s no possibility.” Cong. Nadler said, “The more immediate issue is the existential threat from Iran. When they threaten genocide, when they threaten to exterminate a state, you’d better take it seriously.” “Iran must not be permitted have” a nuclear weapon. Some in America and in the West believe that “we can live with a nuclear Iran’ and that deterrence can work, but “deterrence can only work if the people are not suicidal. You can’t let such people have nuclear weapons.” There are some in Iran who think a nuclear war is a “good idea” to help fulfill their messianic agenda. While a war with Iran would be catastrophic, should Iran develop nuclear weapons, this would also be catastrophic. “We’re in a bad situation today. We may have to choose between catastrophes. . . . If sanctions don’t work, we have to do what we have to do.”
Cong. Robert Turner (R-NY): Invoking the recent commemoration of Yom HaShoah [Holocaust Remembrance Day], Cong. Turner compared the Iranians to the Nazis, saying “we “hear the same rhetoric coming from Iran. . . . I think they can be believed when they threaten to destroy Israel. “I think we [the U.S.] are doing a poor job” when it comes to Iran. On the decision to allow continued negotiation with Iran over its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons, Cong. Turner said, “Allowing those five weeks [of talks] is a mistake, a sign of weakness that they may do what they want. . . . It’s not sound foreign policy.”. . . On Egypt, the Congressman said it makes no sense for the U.S. to continue to give foreign aid to Egypt “with no strings attached. . . . We have a lot to do here. The timeline is working against us.” Israel, Cong. Turner said, “will need the absolute support of the United States if it does what it needs to do to stop Iran. . . . If Israelis do what has to be done, I believe they’ll get support from both sides.”
Cong. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL): Cong. Diaz-Balart thanked the ZOA for “giving us the legs that we need.” He told the ZOA activists, “Your involvement is more important than ever. Thank G-d you are here” to tell Congress to support Israel. Calling Iran “the enemy of humanity,” Cong. Diaz-Balart said that when the U.S. does not stand firm against such enemies, “the world doubts the United States’ resolve. . . . Congress stands with Israel.” To the ZOA, the Congressman said, “Thank you for never giving up, for standing up” for Israel.
Sen. Trent Franks (R-AZ): “The reality is we’re in a year of destiny for Israel and the world. The reality is this administration is willing to let Iran get closer” to having nuclear weapons.” After the Holocaust, “the Jewish people did not allow their faith to be crushed by the atrocities of the past. They built a country. The threat of the Nazis is gone. With the grace of G-d, tomorrow the threat of jihad will be gone.”
Cong. Joe Walsh (R-IL): “I truly believe that the State of Israel is at risk like never before. . . . I’m doing everything I can to change this debate and stand with Israel.” Cong. Joe Walsh introduced a resolution expressing U.S. support for Israel’s right to annex Judea and Samaria, and it has 52 co-sponsors. “I can proudly say there is no such thing as a two-state solution. There never has been, there never will be. . . . Don’t talk to me about land for peace. You can never have peace with a people that doesn’t acknowledge my right to exist, that teaches their people to hate me.”
Cong. Paul Gosar (R-AZ): The ZOA “has consistently stood for Israel’s right to exist. . . It’s one of the most effective pro-Israel organizations in the world. . . . I look forward to working with you to ensure a strong and secure Israel. . . . Israel and its allies in America face tough times. . . . Israel has a moral and legal right to defend itself against its existential threat. . . . The bonds between Israel and the U.S. are so strong – as they ought to be.”
Cong. Ted Poe (R-TX): “In 1948, it took the United States 11 minutes to recognize Israel as a free and independent country.” Cong Poe recalled that when he asked his father about his experience in the army during World War II and what the war was like, his father responded “with the word ‘Dachau.’” Cong. Poe said that that is why “we must as a nation forever support the great nation of Israel. Se we don’t let a situation like Dachau ever happen any place on earth.” Cong. Poe said, “Israel is sitting in a hotbed surrounded by people who want it to be destroyed. . . . Make no mistake about it: Israel is like family to us. We stand together. . . . Israel had been promised peace if it traded land for peace. They trade the land and get no peace. . . . Quit trading the land! . . . How many times do you have to be promised? . . . We must support the national right of Israel – to be left alone. Leave us alone.”
Cong. Andy Harris (R-MD): “It’s in America’s best interest to support a strong and vibrant Jewish state in Israel. . . . We should finally implement the Jerusalem Embassy Act and move the embassy [to Jerusalem].”
Cong. Doug Lamborn (R-CO): Showing a model of the Iron Dome and describing how it is used by Israel to shoot down missiles from Gaza, Cong. Lamborn said that “the iron domes have saved lives.” Cong. Lamborn committed to more funding for the iron domes, and said, “I will do everything I can to support the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
Cong. David Rivera (R-FL): We’ll do “whatever we have to do to prevent a nuclear Iran.” There will be “no compromise on Israel’s right to defend itself. It’s in America’s interest for Israel to be able to defend itself. . . . I sleep better at night” knowing that Israel can defend itself.
Cong. Louie Gohmert (R-TX): Holding up a photo of the Temple Mount, Cong. Gohmert talked about Israel’s careful archaeological excavations, noting that he saw them working with “toothbrushes so they didn’t disturb anything.” The Arabs used “front-end loaders.” Speaking with a note of sarcasm, Cong. Gohmert said that he has not found anything in the scriptures that says that if you try to interfere with Israel’s self-defense you will be blessed. “We don’t need to be choosing leaders who will choose to betray Israel. . . . Congress, almost unanimously, we stand in support of Israel. . . . It’s time to make the message clear to Iran: We know what you’re doing. The new gas chambers are being connected. We can’t allow them to be completed. Iran must be stopped or we’ll be held accountable.”
Cong. David Cicilline (D-RI): Proudly identifying himself as the first Jewish Member of Congress from Rhode Island, Cong. Cicilline said that Israel is our “strongest ally in the region and the only democracy in that part of the world.” The Congressman’s recent first-time visit to Israel “strengthened my belief that we must continue our strong and steadfast support of Israel.” It is “ultimately absolutely necessary to guarantee the security of the State of Israel” and it is “an honor and privilege to advocate that as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.”
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein also addressed the crowd, thanking all of the ZOA activists for coming to Washington, DC to promote a strong U.S.-Israel alliance and a safe and secure Israel among the federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill: “There’s nothing more important that you and I can do to express our support for Israel . Simply being on Capitol Hill, being counted, is critically important. Thank you for taking a full day out of your busy lives to be here.”
Commemorating Holocaust Remembrance Day, Mr. Klein reminded the ZOA activists that “we must fulfill our sacred obligation – to learn the lessons of the Holocaust and ensure the survival of the Jewish people. Once again there are calls to annihilate the Jewish State of Israel. Today, the regime of Iran openly calls for Israel’s destruction. Iran actually clams that it is enriching uranium for medical reasons, to advance medical research. What preposterous nonsense!” Remember who we’re dealing with: the foremost sponsor of terror on this earth. On the major web sites of Iran, there are calls for the Jewish people to be annihilated. There are those who don’t want to hear these uncomfortable truths. A nuclear armed Iran is an existential threat to Israel and a great threat to the United States of America. The memory of the Holocaust goes beyond holding memorial services. We must apply the lessons of the past to the future.” Mr. Klein’s words were met with resounding applause and a standing ovation.
Mort Klein thanked the entire ZOA staff for their hard work in making the ZOA’s Advocacy Mission to Washington, D.C. such a success. Josh London and Dan Pollak, Co-Directors of the ZOA’s Government Relations Department, were the masters of ceremonies at the luncheon event and led the discussion of the issues. The ZOA is also pleased to acknowledge that its Philadelphia district had the largest single delegation to the Mission.
About the ZOA
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States. With offices around the country and in Israel, the ZOA educates the public, elected officials, the media, and college/high school students about the truth of the ongoing Arab war against Israel. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations through educational activities, public affairs programs and our work on Capitol Hill, and to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media, in textbooks, in schools and on college campuses. Under the leadership of such presidents as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbis Abba Hillel Silver and Stephen Wise, and current President Morton A. Klein, the ZOA has been - and continues to be - on the front lines of Jewish activism. www.zoa.org