Why ZOA opposed giving President Biden a major Israeli award

It only encourages his hostility towards Jerusalem and sends the message that Israel is comfortable with his wrongheaded policies.

U.S. President Joe Biden boards Air Force One after a farewell ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport, July 15, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
U.S. President Joe Biden boards Air Force One after a farewell ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport, July 15, 2022. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Morton A. Klein
Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA).

The Zionist Organization of America opposed giving U.S. President Joe Biden the Israeli Presidential Medal of Honor. This award makes no sense. A true friend of Israel and fighter against anti-Semitism would not pursue the numerous policies undermining Israel’s sovereignty and security that he and his administration have been pursuing, including hundreds of millions of U.S. tax dollars aiding and abetting Palestinian Arab terror against Jews.

Nor would “a true friend of Israel” take advantage of Israel’s caretaker government to make visits, as Biden is doing, to symbolic Palestinian Authority institutions in eastern Jerusalem. Former Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon noted that these Biden visits are unprecedented and were “created to pave the way for the U.S. administration to challenge Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem.”

Biden’s hostile policies towards Israel include Biden bragging about giving $500 million of U.S. taxpayer dollars to the Palestinian Arabs and announcing an additional aid package for Palestinian Arab facilities during his trip to Israel. This funding for the Palestinian Arab government functions aids and abets terror by freeing up the $400 million per year that the P.A. spends on substantial lifetime pensions to reward Arab terrorists for murdering Jews and Americans. (The more Jews murdered, the higher the reward.) Biden is blatantly violating and/or circumventing the Taylor Force Act. The Biden administration’s indirect funding of these heinous P.A. payments needs to end.

In addition, Biden restored funding to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), which hides Hamas rockets in its schools in the Gaza Strip; employs Hamas terrorists; and teaches children to murder Jews. UNRWA textbooks currently used throughout Gaza and the P.A. teach students to die as a martyr by killing Israelis.

Outrageously, Biden and his administration (including U.S. Secretary Antony Blinken and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides) condemn Jews for building homes in the lawful Jewish homelands in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria while saying nothing about massive illegal Arab construction. It’s time for the Biden administration to end these blatant anti-Semitic attacks on Jews’ rights to live in the Jewish homeland.

Biden has attacked Jews for living in the Jewish homeland throughout his political career. In 1982 as a Democratic Delaware senator, he threatened then-Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting to cut aid to Israel if Israel refused to agree to Biden’s demands to stop Jews from living in Judea and Samaria Begin famously responded: “Don’t threaten us with cutting off your aid. It will not work. I am not a Jew with trembling knees. I am a proud Jew with 3,700 years of civilized history. Nobody came to our aid when we were dying in the gas chambers and ovens. Nobody came to our aid when we were striving to create our country. We paid for it. We fought for it. We died for it. We will stand by our principles. We will defend them. And, when necessary, we will die for them again, with or without your aid.”

Notably, Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s father, Chaim Herzog (who was an Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and the sixth president of Israel) passionately defended Israeli “settlements” in Judea and Samaria in his 1978 book, Who Stands Accused? Israel Answers Its Critics.

Biden is ignoring the sanctions on Iran and is reportedly resuming efforts to negotiate a disastrous Iran deal immediately after his upcoming Mideast trip. The deal is a mortal danger to Israel’s survival. It would give Iran the pathway to a nuclear bomb in a few short years and give Iran $90 billion of immediate sanctions relief (which will enrich the Iranian terror proxies Hamas and Hezbollah). Biden’s administration said it remains committed to reviving this terrible deal, even after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated last month that the deal was dead due to Iran’s removal of monitoring devices and cameras, and even after the IAEA board of governors censured Iran on June 8 for failing to provide credible information over manufactured nuclear material found at three undeclared sites.

Biden appointed and elevated anti-Semites and Israelophobes to top positions in his administration. They include Hady Amr, who wrote that he was “inspired by the intifada”; Maher Bitar, who organized the Palestine Solidarity Movement anti-Israel boycott conference at Georgetown and ran a session on how to demonize Israel, and also held positions with and/or assisted anti-Israel hate groups SabeelStudents for Justice in Palestine, Badil and the misnamed Foundation for Middle East PeaceKarine Jean-Pierre, who helped orchestrate Democratic presidential candidates’ boycott of a major pro-Israel conference; Avril Haines, who signed a vicious letter falsely accusing Israel of violence, terrorism and incitement; apologist for Hamas and a nuclear Iran Robert Malley; and numerous others.

Biden has failed to condemn or take action against the anti-Semitic progressive “Squad” in Congress. Its members’ vicious anti-Semitic and Israelophobic speeches, tweets and legislative proposals help foment anti-Semitism throughout the United States.

Horrifyingly, instead of condemning such rhetoric, on May 18, 2021, while Israel was being bombarded by more than 4,000 Hamas rockets, Biden strongly praised Jew-hater Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who opposes Israel’s very existence. Shortly after Tlaib again promoted anti-Israel boycotts and falsely called Israel an apartheid state, Biden said to Tlaib: “I admire your intellect, I admire your passion, I admire your concern for so many other people. You’re a fighter, and G-d thank you for being a fighter.”

The Biden administration has continually pressured Israel to allow the opening of an illegal, divisive, wasteful U.S.-“Palestinian” consulate in Jerusalem, despite strong Israeli opposition to it. The consulate is designed to undermine Israel’s sovereignty in her eternal capital and divide Jerusalem. Opening the consulate would violate the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995; the Vienna Convention on Consular Affairs; and the Oslo Accords. Yet at a press briefing on May 31, Biden’s State Department again reasserted that the administration is “committed” to its reopening.

On July 4, in a statement that seemed to be designed to intimidate Israel’s new caretaker government, the Biden administration asserted (contrary to the evidence) that an Israeli bullet “likely” killed Al Jazeera journalist Abu Akleh during an Israel Defense Forces’ counter-terrorism raid in Jenin. (Palestinian Islamic Jihad was shooting indiscriminately at the IDF and others. See “U.S. Statement on Al Jazeera Journalist Killing Is Biased, Irresponsible and Wrong.”) Biden is reportedly even planning to demand that Israel pay compensation to Abu Akleh’s family and to Arab terrorists in Israeli jails—an utter outrage.

In sum, the Biden administration is constantly pressuring Israel and undermining its rights, safety and sovereignty. These are not the policies of a “true friend of Israel” and fighter against anti-Semitism. Giving Biden this major award only encourages him to continue his hostility towards Israel and sends the message that Israel is comfortable with Biden’s wrongheaded policies.

Morton A. Klein is the national president of the Zionist Organization of America.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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